The 28th President of the United States, Woodrow Wilson, had this to say about the meaning of life:
You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand.
In my notebook I have a collection of thoughts, quotes, images, reflections and things people have said that I use to guide, direct and inspire me in life. This one has been near the top of my list for a few months now, and I have been reflecting on it often in recent days.
You see, all too often we see the point of life as being that we should work hard to become sufficiently wealthy to create happiness. I’ve been around the block often enough to have seen behind that particular deception – and I have seen people surrender their dreams and their goals to do ‘the sensible thing’ and make a living for themselves and their families. And that’s OK.
But in the end, it’s not enough. Each one of us is here with gifts that make the world richer, that create more love, more life, more joy – not just for ourselves, but also for those around us. And if we forget that, then actually we end up stealing from ourselves, as we find the noose of fine wire that is ‘making a living’ ensnares us more and more tightly.
The more we refuse to let our gift propel us forward, then the more frustrated we’re going to feel.
I think it’s a matter of intention. If we set out to enrich the world, to make the lives of others richer and fuller, then we find ourselves enriched, in all sorts of ways. If we intend to lift the sights of those we come into contact with higher, to help them see that little bit more clearly, that little bit further – if we look to bring more love, more light, more hope into the world.. then the karmic principles built into the universe will start to move. As we start to give out, then the Universe will find ways to give back to us. Perhaps not in the ways we expect, and certainly not in the ways we demand, but there are no exceptions to the rule that what we give out, comes back to us.
But perhaps we feel we have nothing to give – that others are more gifted, more capable, more able to change the world. Changing the world isn’t restricted to politicians, statesmen, rock stars and aid workers. In every moment there is the chance to bring life and light into the world.. not by forcing it, but by allowing your true nature to shine out.
In a wonderful and thoughtprovoking essay that I have quoted before, author and entrepreneur Randy Gage suggested that:
You have gifts that no one else in the world can offer. You have skills you don’t yet know you possess, love you haven’t experienced yet, and hope that has your name upon it. There are songs you have yet to sing, dances you are meant to dance, and stories that only you are able to tell.
The world is poorer when you don’t bring your best game.
You may not change what you’re doing – you might just choose to infuse it with a shed load of joy and meaning and richness that transforms your day job into something where you’re seeking to enrich those around you. Or you might find yourself suddenly drawn into a life of creativity and wonder that you couldn’t have imagined. I don’t know. But what you will find is that it all becomes meaningful. Somehow, life seems to matter – and the more that we give it away, the more we find it.
Find out more at www.timhodgson.org