Everyone, basically, wants to have a positive impact on the world around them. We all want to feel as if we’re doing things with our lives that are meaningful, in ways that extend beyond our own sheer self-interest.
It’s likely for that reason, in large part, that so many people are drawn to engage in political movements and causes, and to sign up to charitable services.
Ultimately, though, there’s a good argument to be made that to really have a positive impact on the world, we need to approach the entire question of our behaviour in the world in a more holistic and all-encompassing way, one that might include such things as our choice of career, hobbies, and personal development.
Here are a few ways in which you might be able to structure your life so as to have a positive impact on the world at large.
Make self-understanding and self-mastery your project, first and foremost
Joseph Campbell, the famous academic and commentator on myth, famously said “we’re not on our journey to save the world but to save ourselves. But in doing that you save the world. The influence of a vital person vitalises.”
There’s a powerful lesson and idea here. Namely that positive change and influence radiates outwards, first and foremost.
In your own life, you’ve probably noticed this phenomenon playing out in plain sight. Perhaps you’ve met a person who seemed so impressive, inspirational, and well put together, that just being around them seemed like a privilege, and inspired you to be more than you currently were.
Gandhi is quoted as having said something similar, too; “be the change that you want to see in the world.”
Make self-understanding and self-mastery your project, first and foremost, and you can’t help but have a positive impact on others.
Pursue a career which does some good for others
We all spend a major chunk of our waking hours working and engaging with our careers, and it’s a particularly good and fulfilling thing to feel that the way we’re spending our work days is serving some bigger purpose.
Pursuing a career that goes some good for others is perhaps one of the best ways of ensuring that you have a positive impact on the world, as a whole.
Studying criminal justice programs online, for example, may be your first step towards contributing positively to your community on a daily basis.
Do things that make you come alive, not just things that are strategically sound
Another famous quote from Joseph Campbell is “follow your bliss”, and the idea has been echoed in many times and places before and since.
When you work only on the basis that there’s going to be some practical or strategic benefit in it for you, you miss out on the deeper meaning in life.
As it so happens, a sense of meaning — or maybe “bliss” — may be one of the surest ways of knowing that you’re spending your time well, in a way that aligns with your higher values.
This, in turn, is likely to result in a positive impact on the world, while also making you a more positive and engaged person, in your dealings with those around you.