Hi, today I want to talk about life purpose. But before that, allow me to quote one of my most favorite speeches ever. It’s by Mark Zuckerberg when he’s giving a speech at Harvard’s commencement. He says,
“One of my favorite stories is when John F Kennedy visited the NASA space center, he saw a janitor carrying a broom and he walked over and asked what he was doing. The janitor responded: ‘Mr. President, I’m helping put a man on the moon’. Purpose is that sense that we are part of something bigger than ourselves, that we are needed, that we have something better ahead to work for. Purpose is what creates true happiness.” (Disclaimer: I’m not a fan of Mark, I just love this part of his speech)
A part of something bigger. That really hit me. Don’t some of us often feel that our life is pointless? That we are useless? That there’s just no point in living. We don’t know what we’re living for. We’re not sure if our life is worth living for. We often doubt ourselves and wonder, “why was I born to this world? Why don’t I just die? I’m sick of this life. It feels that I can’t do something right. I just cause other people trouble. Everything I do is meaningless. Etc.” I don’t know about you, but I know I do feel like that sometimes. And when I talk about dying, I don’t mean suicide of course. It’s something like, I don’t know, you just want to die – normally and naturally, but soon. And that’s because you just don’t know your purpose or if you really need to have one.
So, a part of something bigger. I think it is true. Some of us often want to be great. We want to excel. We want to be well-known. We want to achieve something big. Etc. No? Well, I know sometimes I do. But guess what? Sometimes, it’s exhausting. And instead of feeling great, it makes me feel small, useless, especially when I can’t achieve that despite all the hard work I’ve done. On the contrary, often times it’s the little things that make me happy. I write something – didn’t intend to inspire or motivate or something like that, just trying to voice what’s in my head, hoping nobody will judge – but then some people tell me it means something to them. It just makes me happy. Not that I’m crazy about people’s thanking me, neither am I craving for praises or gratitude or such, no, but I’m happy more because they make me feel that my life is, after all, not pointless. That I am not useless. That my existence actually matters. That somehow I mean something to them. It’s not something big, but it means big to them. And who knows that one of those people reading my story is actually becoming someone important, or someone big later? Someone that can bring benefits and happiness to more people? That will make me a part of it, right? No?
Now let’s go back to JFK’s story. Yes, right, maybe people will not talk about the janitor or how great he is by helping put a man on the moon. It’s very likely that the man landing on the moon will get the talk, attention, and such. But can you imagine what happens if the janitor is not there? Will it cause trouble if the janitor doesn’t clean the NASA space center? We tend to praise something because of its existence, but we often forget to appreciate something because we fail to see what happens in its absence.
A part of something bigger. I think we really need to teach and learn this. This is good not only for us to appreciate ourselves but for us not to look down on others. For us to appreciate ourselves, so every time we feel small, useless, meaningless, etc., we can remember that we are a part of something bigger. It’s not a fact, no. It’s a hope. It’s a probability. Well, no, I guess that’s just the truth. I mean, our life is always linked to others’, right? I am sure that everyone of us contributes something to this life. Well, yeah, the contribution might be different, some contribute more, some contribute less, but it doesn’t mean that the little contribution is less meaningful, no. Can you imagine a car without a brake? A car without a tire? A car without the engine? Well, yeah, one might argue, “I am okay without a brake, I can drive slow so it will still be safe”. Or, one might argue, “I’m ok missing one tire, I can use the other three, somehow, or find something to replace it.” Or one might boast, “Fool, no matter what, the car will not start without an engine.” Etc. Maybe at one point you feel like a brake, that you are not really needed. Maybe at one point you feel like a tire, that you can be replaced. And maybe you think that others are more important than you. It’s normal. I understand. But you know that it’s somehow better if you are there, no? The car will be better with a brake, tire, etc. Simply put, it’s not complete without you. Why? Because every big thing is built on small things. So next time you feel that your existence doesn’t matter, that it’s better if you don’t exist, I want you to stop, look around, and think: “What will happen if I really stop existing?”
Btw, I’m not trying to preach you or others here. Actually, it’s more like reassuring myself; i.e. I’m trying to “console” myself. I often feel that my life is useless and that it might be better if I just die. I don’t have to be responsible for anything. I don’t have to worry about whether or not my life is useful. Etc. My logical self scolds me, saying that such thought is ridiculous. I understand her. But I also understand a part of me who has those thoughts. Then I remember my parents, my sister and brother, my family, my friends, etc. Maybe they’ll be sad. Well, I know it’s kinda ridiculous that you have to carry on living for others instead of for you yourself. But I think it’s ok; if we can’t find reassurance or a reason to live within ourselves, it’s ok to find it in others. After all, living only for our own happiness is selfish, but then dying because we don’t want to suffer (while causing those we leave to suffer) is also selfish. We’ll always be selfish.
Anyway, what did I say? About being a part of something bigger. It’s good so that we don’t look down on others; i.e. so that we can appreciate others more. Don’t some of us often underestimate certain professions? A janitor, a waiter, a housemaid, etc. Then we feel superior, that we’re better than them. That’s not true. No matter what, we’ve never known their whole stories. We don’t know how many people have been inspired by them or touched by their kindness. And no matter how small we think they are, we have no idea how big the people they’ve inspired are. They are a part of something bigger, and that’s enough to make them big.
So, well, acknowledging and understanding that everyone of us is a part of something bigger will help us not to feel inferior or superior. We don’t have to be great, we don’t have to be extraordinary, we don’t have to always be successful. We just need to do the bests we can do. Earnestly. And whatever comes from it is not supposed to make us feel inferior. And when we see others that we think achieve less than we do, we can stop ourselves from being superior than them. Because, what? They’re also a part of something bigger. Just imagine how the world will be if they don’t exist! (By the way, I am not including criminals like corruptors, rapists, provocateurs, racists, etc. I’m sure the world will be better without them :p )
So, chin up! Our life is not without purposes. We might not always know what it is, but surely, it’s a part of something bigger 😊 Yes, we might be small, but the world is big, and we are a part of it. Isn’t it clear enough to illustrate that we are a part of something bigger? 😊
[…] If you feel you’re useless, you might want to read this post here. And if you think of dying, maybe you can read this one here. Please hang in there, please stay […]