What is a human and how does it work?
I strongly believe that the purpose of life is to spend as much time as possible trying to discover the purpose of life. The constant trying is the journey and living an MPI life is the vehicle that can carry you along the journey and in the right direction.
If we want to maximize our positive impact we need to figure out how to become the best version of ourselves and that means understanding ourselves. This entire chapter is dedicated to what humans are hardwired to want, need and feel and how humans react to things that happen in their lives and why they react the way that they do. Read this chapter with a self-knowledge and self-improvement frame of mind. This chapter is obviously only a very brief introduction to an enormous subject.
Special versus unique
Nobody knows the exact purpose of life but we know that we will benefit greatly from trying to figure it out and, more specifically, figuring out what it is that we should be doing with ourselves. You are unique therefore the things you need to do in your life are unique to you. There is a big overlap between the things that make you unique and the “real you” (the most unrestrained version of you).
There is an unquantifiable and indescribable magic that comes from setting the real you free. You feel more connected with the world and there’s a reason. Getting the real you to come out from inside of you and into the external world around you creates a bridge that uniquely connects you to your world. The connection is real. It may not be physical but it is real. The connection is even stronger when you have let the real you come out and you did it in a way that made a positive contribution to the world by helping people. You feel more connected to people that you have helped. Being your real self in a way that helps people is a magical combination. We have all had a taste of it. It’s as if nature pats you on the back and says “well done, you’ve done your part”. “Your part” refers to taking “action” using your “unique” perspective or skills.
As a result of your unique DNA and experiences you have a unique perspective and unique capabilities. You also have unique passions. When all of this uniqueness is channeled into an MPI direction you don’t just end up with pleasure, fulfillment and connection also fulfilling your responsibility to your fellow humans by contributing the things that only you can contribute to the world.
In the meantime, there is a critical difference between being unique and being special. Many parents tell their children that they are special and it seems that many children have interpreted that to mean that this somehow makes them successful and can act accordingly. You are not special – if special means that you are a human that happens to be alive and nothing more. However, you are unique and this means that you are “potentially” special. The problem people with thinking that they are special when, in fact, all they have are the natural gifts that come with being a unique human is that some of them have interpreted this to mean that they can sit back and do nothing and feel good about the fact that they have these gifts. This is like claiming to be successful as a result of inheriting $1 million. Yes, you have $1 million and therefore you have a lot of potential (depending on how you use the million dollars), however, we are only interested in what you do with this “potential” and we will judge you or respect you based on what you do with this potential. You do not deserve any credit for inheriting this potential. We will not have any respect for you for simply being in possession of the million dollars or being in possession of unique DNA.
People that fail after trying are failures in the best sense of the word. They are respected and encouraged to try again. People that fail as a result of not bothering to try are failures in the worst sense of the word. They not respected. There is no shame in failing. However there is shame in failing without trying.
In case it hasn’t been made clear many times in this book, all of the philosophy, science and personal experience tell us the same thing – it’s all about the “trying”. The trying is the journey and the destination is the result of the trying. None of us care about your natural gifts for the obvious reason that we all have them. It’s all about what you do with them – or at least try to do with them.
You inherited your natural gifts from your parents. You did not do anything to receive these gifts. Possessing natural gifts and not bothering to try to use them to have a positive impact on the world is the kind of failure that has no silver lining or redeeming value. There is no way to have a positive impact on the world by simply possessing natural gifts. MPI can only be achieved by “doing”. It starts by using your imagination to think about how your natural gifts can be utilized in the most optimal to have a positive impact on the world then get up and actually try to do whatever it is that you imagined, then learn from the experience then repeat.
Kids that are told that they are special tend to end up with an attitude of entitlement. They tend to choose not to engage in any activity where the outcome is uncertain because they know that engagement, trying to do something, means dealing with life’s inevitable messiness. It easier for them to just continue to exist within the psychologically coddled state created by their well-intentioned but bad parents because this is the state in which they are “special”. They intuitively know that if they were to attempt to apply their natural gifts to the world there is a possibility that the result may include failing and that would mean the removal the “special” label they have become permanently psychologically attached to.
Next article in this series: “Love & Self Worth”