There are at least two different ways you can save a life. The first is the obvious one where you save someone from physically dying. When you prevent someone from dying you postpone the inevitable. You give the person extra time, which is the stuff life is made of.
The second way to save a life isn’t so much about giving the person extra time, but about making sure the person gets the most out of the time he or she has. A 90 year old can still have wasted away his or her life by spending it doing things he or she wasn’t passionate about.
So how do you save someone (including yourself) from wasting his or her life away? You can save someone’s life by helping him or her find a purpose, a life goal, and the courage to pursue it.
In order to be able to save the lives of others you first have to save yours. Find your calling, do something meaningful and fulfilling with your life. By chasing your dreams you lead by example, nudging others to follow your lead. This is the great thing; you don’t have to sacrifice your own dreams and happiness in order to help others. You just make sure you get the most out of your life (which is already one life saved plus it will benefit others as well) and give the people around you advise when they ask for it.
Actually, it would not make sense to sacrifice your own well being for the sake of others. Be the change you want to see in the world as Gandhi said. Imagine what would happen if everyone would follow your example. If everyone would sacrifice their own dreams and ambitions for the sake of others the world would be a dark and depressing place.
If instead people would start pursuing their dreams and cheering each other on a different picture would appear. People would constantly push themselves to grow in order to achieve their goals and motivate others to do the same. Constantly learning new things and gaining a better understanding of the world around them and themselves. I’m well aware this is an utopian picture but you can influence your environment to come close to this by being picky who you spend your the majority of your time with adhering to the rule of five.
I’m not saying it’s going to be easy. Getting the most out of your short time here on earth requires hard work and you’ll have to overcome many challenges. However, every time you overcome a challenge you become stronger and get closer to your goals and life is going to be full of challenges anyway. In the meanwhile you’re setting a great example for the people around you.
So set your goals high and realize your dreams. It might not be easy but it is well worth it.
At school, some fellow students gave a presentation in which they discussed a questionable company of which the CEO was accused of being a cult leader and only employing cult members. The personnel for the company allegedly worked almost 80 hours a week for this person for a minimum wage without much complaining (except for the people who quit the cult/company). I wondered how this CEO got his people to sacrifice their time and energy to work so much unpaid overtime. Why do people choose to join such a “company”? I later realized that this company/ cult clearly gave these people something in return which they valued higher than mere money or even their precious time and energy. Something that all people deep down crave for, and is the driving motivation behind the choices people make and what they do. Joining this group gave them something to dedicate their life to. It gave them a purpose.
Life itself is without any meaning, however this doesn’t mean life has to be meaningless. We humans give meaning to actions and things. The definition of meaningful is something that serves a desirable goal/ purpose. We often lack the motivation to do certain things because we don’t see the point in it, it lacks a desirable goal. The same goes for life; a meaningful life is a life with a desirable goal/ purpose. This ability to give meaning to actions is both a blessing as a curse. By finding a worthwhile higher life goal we can achieve great things, however it is also a serious security hazard in our system.
All people want to live meaningful lives deep down. No one likes to waste away their lives, especially since this is the only one we have. We are hardwired to find and pursue a higher life goal. However as long as we haven’t filled in this slot ourselves by choosing our own goals we are open to being hijacked. People crave this gap to be filled, when this gap is not filled by a person’s own ambitions and dreams it is easy for others to offer to fill it. They offer people a purpose; this is how cults can get people to sacrifice themselves for the benefit of the cult leader. By hijacking the “Life goal/purpose slot” in a person’s mind, people with bad intentions can hijack their lives by getting them to sacrifice their time and energy and in some cases even wealth for the sake of the cult leader’s goal. Cult leaders don’t even have to force people, people make these decisions themselves because their choices are guided by the higher goal that makes life meaningful.
So how do we protect ourselves from this happening to us? It is really simple; make sure you are the one who fills the gap. Put your priorities straight and find out what dreams and goals you want to achieve so your choices and actions are in the benefit of you. Make sure you are the one who controls your life. This purpose is the ultimate control center. If you don’t take control over it, other people can do it.
To quickly come back to the ethical part of this all. Is it really this bad that this CEO got his people to work 80 hours a week for a minimum wage? It depends, he is fulfilling a deep craving in those people and it gives them some sense of self-worth and being productive, making them feel they are not wasting their lives away. However, it is bad to use these mechanics to your advantage at the costs of those you control in this way. By keeping this gap filled you prevent people from filling it with their own goals and you get them to sacrifice their precious lives. This is in my opinion unethical. The same goes for getting people to fill the gap with serving some higher being which may or may not exist.
To conclude: Make sure that no one can hijack your life by finding your own higher goals to pursue.
Does the universe have problems? We have them, but are our problems a problem for the universe itself? Will it matter to the universe if we lose our job or destroy the planet? Not really.
A problem isn’t an intrinsic flaw in reality, it’s just an obstacle that gets in the way of achieving one or more of our goals.
This doesn’t make problems less real, it just makes them more personal. A problem for me isn’t necessary a problem for you. However if we both face the same obstacle towards a common goal we should work together to find a solution. Problems are our responsibility to solve.
If we turn the earth into an inhabitable mess it would be a problem for life itself since it gets in the way of its objective to survive. If I lose my source of income it’s a problem because it gets in the way of my goals of affording to pay my rent and buy food so I can survive. If I get sick it’s a problem because it inhibits my ability to achieve a bunch of other goals.
No goals no problems. But at the same time; no goals no purpose, no meaning (our goals provide us with a purpose and make our lives meaningful).
We’ll just have to accept the problems we face as part of the price to pay in order to live a fulfilling life. Let’s just face them head on and see them for what they are: Challenges to overcome in order to achieve our goals. Nothing more, nothing less.
Think about the following for a moment. You only live once; and relatively short in the larger scheme of it. After you die you will be there no more. You also have no preset mission for which you have been born. The universe doesn’t even notice if you cease to exist. This might sound pretty bleak, but is it really?Because you only live once, and live is short, it makes it that much more scarce and precious. There is only one person quite like you. After you die there will never be anyone exactly like you again. You are unique and precious. You can choose to have a serious impact on the world. Because you are unique, you can change the world in a way that no one else can. You have the potential to help humanity progress in a unique way which will be forever lost after you die.
Leave your mark by living to the fullest. It’s your life and you are free to choose how you spend it. However, make sure that you really make the choice on your own. This means accepting the responsibility over your choices and life. You only get one chance to experience the beauty of the universe and to make yourself immortal by your actions. If you want to contribute to some higher good that’s truly worth it, do something that improves the quality of the life of you and your fellow people. This, so people can fully enjoy this precious life we have. The universe might not care, but your fellow humans sure do.
So what can you do to improve the quality of life? The thing you should never do is sacrifice yourself. Whatever you do, never depreciate yourself for the sake of others. It’s perverted and directly contradicts the goal of improving the life quality of humanity. Be the change you want to see in the world Gandhi once said. If you sacrifice your own pleasure and quality of life, what kind of change are you really contributing to? What signal are you giving to other people? What if everyone would do that? Everyone would be worse off. Instead be an example, excel in some area. Write books, play music or paint. Do whatever you can to express yourself and inspire others to live life to the fullest as well.