Stop trying to change the world

For the longest time, I’ve had this incredible thirst to “change the world”. Doesn’t it sound amazing that little old me could change the lives of 7 billion people? Goose bump worthy thought. A very feel good thought.

I think I was first told that I could change the world in elementary school. It’s a popular 1st world statement that’s given without any direction as to how. As a result, one enters adulthood knowing that they want to change the world but without a single clue as to how to do this. This can lead to dissatisfaction when landing that first job. It’s only a matter of time before the realization sets in: I can’t change the world doing this job! And so it begins: quitting decent jobs to find the one that will achieve the end of “changing the world”.

When I travel, I’m struck by the amount of people that I’ll never know. This reality strikes me when traveling inside of Canada, let alone to other countries of the world. There’s BILLIONS of people that I’ll never rub shoulders with. Billions of people who don’t even speak the same language as me. How am I supposed to change the world exactly?

We all want our lives to matter. We all want to make a difference. There’s nothing wrong with this! This desire is very good. Where we’ve gone wrong is in our message: “change the world”. It’s a goal so big that it renders us motionless. We want to….but we have no clue where to start. So we do nothing. Or we make several attempts to change the world and get discouraged with our results.

“Change the world” is a motto that isn’t giving us the results that we want. I suggest instead we take to heart the wise words of Mother Theresa:

“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”

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More good will be accomplished when we stop trying to change the world and begin with changing our own lives. How can I love myself better? How can I love my partner better? My children? My extended family? And what about my neighbours? And those in the community that I live?

Reality check: it’s VERY unlikely that you are going to change the entire world. I’m sorry to break it to you. There’s too many people. There’s too little of you. And where do you even start? BUT there’s hope. If we all begin to care more about our immediate areas of influence (no matter how mundane), WE can make the world that we live in a better place. Start small. Set practical, attainable goals. You’ll be more effective this way, and more satisfied. Stop feeling badly that you aren’t “changing the world” and start changing your areas of influence for the better.

We can have people say at our funeral that the world is a better place because of how we lived. Love well. Love even when you get nothing in return.  Do small things with great love. When loving others is the goal you will never fail. No matter where you work. No matter what you do.

My suggested new motto (replacing “change the world”):

“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love” – Mother Theresa.

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