For many people, and especially for those who find themselves stricken by dissatisfaction with the way things are, and by a tendency towards strong emotional reactions, there is a deep temptation to try and “save” the world.
This tendency typically manifests itself in the form of strong affiliation with political ideologies, and activism. The more extreme the person in question, and the more extreme their dissatisfaction, the more radical and aggressive they will tend to be in their desire to transform things.
Often — maybe even mostly — this desire to save the world is actually a misdirected desire to change oneself.
Here are some reasons why you should try to save yourself rather than trying to save the world.
Positive change radiates outward by example and influence
Perhaps the most famous quote attributed to Mahatma Gandhi is “be the change you want to see in the world”.
It’s a truth of life that the energy and behaviour patterns which individuals manifest in their own lives, spiral out into broader society and often have a profound impact on other people and the culture in general, and much has been written about the disproportionate power of small actions.
When you become bitter and resentful, you spread an aura of bitterness and resentment through society at large. In such a case, it’s all but impossible for you to do good, even if you have the best intentions.
If, on the other hand, you make positive changes in your life, and become more fulfilled, more honourable, with more integrity, you can expect these positive traits to have a ripple effect on society, too.
When you focus primarily on issues much larger than yourself, you’re likely to do more harm than good
The world, and the things within it, are stunningly complicated. It could be argued that no one really understands all the nuances of the way that different economic systems play out, and that’s only one piece of the puzzle that makes up society.
Organising and improving your own life is hard enough. In fact, it’s hard (and worthwhile) enough to be the work of a lifetime. But it is something you can actually do.
If you attempt to change the big, broad world, but aren’t able to improve your own life sufficiently, you are likely to do far more harm than good to anything you touch.
Be humble enough to focus your energies properly.
By focusing on helping yourself, you become better and more capable of helping those closest to you
The more you get your own life in order, the better equipped you are to help your loved ones and the people closest to you.
If, on the other hand, you preach advice that you haven’t figured out how to meaningfully and effectively apply in your own life, you may well be causing further distress, rather than benefit.
If you get on a healthy regimen of good nutrition, focus supplements, and exercise — and find that you’re able to stick with it, and that your life is vastly better for that fact — then the advice you pass on to others is likely to be much more potent and true.
Improving yourself will also leave you feeling better, and more confident. And both of these things can positively affect those we hold dear.