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.

5 Love Languages

I remember the day I approached my mother to tell her that I felt as if she did not love me. I could barely get the words out because I was crying so hard. She was totally shocked that I would question if she loved me. She listed off all the thing that she did for me out of love: meals, housekeeping, taxes, education, etc. I left that conversation starting to feel that maybe my mother loved me all along but I was expecting her to love me in a different way…

At a later time, I came across the concept of the 5 Love Languages. If you have never heard of the 5 Love Languages or would like a quick refresher click here). For the first time, I was able to understand that my love language is Words of Affirmation (to learn your love language click here: love language quiz). The reason why I felt as if my mother did not love me was because I was looking for compliments and encouraging words while she was showing her love to me with her love language: Acts of Service. We were speaking two different love languages. Both were saying I LOVE YOU but one was speaking Spanish and the other English.

Since my love language is words of affirmation, it’s my default to show love to others with the way that I feel loved (giving loving & encouraging words). But not everyone’s love language is the same as mine. Derek’s love language is Acts of Service. It means more to Derek if I do something nice for him instead of writing him a loving note. So instead of trying to tell him “I love you” in my own language, I have to make it a point to say “I love you” in his language. This is my attempt at telling Derek that I love him on Valentines Day a couple years ago:

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 What’s your love language? When was the last time you tried to speak the love language of someone else despite the fact that it’s easier to say “I LOVE YOU” in your own love language? Food for thought.