A Few Words on Being Useful


Be Useful - It is a wonderful lifeMany people chase happiness as the ultimate goal.  This is flawed in many, many ways.

Many leaders also tell us to follow our passions.  This is not too far from the truth, but not exactly right either.

As humans, we can exist.  We can live everyday by simply eating, sleeping, using the bathroom, and being zombies.  We exist for the sake of existing.  This is fine, but striving for something better usually makes life more interesting.

Over the past week, I found myself sitting in my apartment in San Antonio, enjoying YouTube, books, and all the great things the internet has to offer.

I started to notice how alone I felt.  I started to consider that I was an extrovert instead of being the introvert I always thought I was.  Then I realized something was missing from my life.  Something of use, perhaps.

And that was just it.  Being useful to the world around me.  While I am exploring career opportunities, in recent weeks, I’ve spent quite a lot of time alone, working on projects here or there.  These projects are quite solitary and really useful only to myself.

While many of us chase happiness, I think the real goal in life is to be useful to your community.  That is, you are providing value, giving back, and participating in your community on a regular basis.  Doing these things on a regular basis has been quite devoid of my time for the entire year.

I was sick for six months, I left my job to take time off, and now I am able to realize the value of being useful.  Being useful not only helps us be a part of our community, but also provides us with an opportunity to socialize, build self-esteem, and even make our community and others better.

As you become useful, you will share a bit of yourself and others will share a bit of themselves with you.  This sharing of experience is a vital part of life and is essential to living longer.  Those with high quality relationships with others tend to live longer.

As you go through your day, think of the ways you are being useful to those around you. Engage with the people around you and discover what makes them useful.  Stop chasing happiness, stop searching for your passions, and just be useful. The rest will come.

Reflecting on Spirituality


Nature is my spiritual placeOur spiritual beliefs are a key part of accomplishing goals.  For many, many years I considered myself an atheist.  I only went to church when I was forced to, mainly for a family friend’s event.  Instead, survival from the family dysfunction was my spirituality.

When you live in a household without the stability, love, and nurturing psychologists claim a child needs (read The Absentee Mother for more), you revert to survival which includes being the invisible kid, having no preferences for your birthday, and going with the flow.  Since I couldn’t be me as a kid, I lived in a fantasy world in my mind.

Then I found anthropology.  Through this discipline I learned that humans have created numerous belief systems over the thousands of years of our existence. Believing in one god or multiple gods separated cultures spiritually.

Religion has been used as a means to profit. During Manifest Destiny, Christianity and other European religions were used to classify the Native Americans as savages and that the “land” needed to be civilized.  It was all in the name of profit, expansion, and nationalism.

If you believe in god, that’s great!  You believe! If you believe in many gods, that’s great too!  Having a spiritual platform is key to happiness.  Even atheists have a spiritual platform; they may not even know it.

For me, I reflect back on my life and recognize my own makeshift spiritual ways.  While honesty, hard-work, and perseverance align with my need for survival as a child, I realized something deeper after I graduated from college.  My need for nature to be an important part of my life hit me like a Greyhound bus one morning.

Nature is our life blood.  Without trees, oxygen, sunlight, vegetables, and animals, we simply do not exist.  In fact, many ancient religions incorporated nature into their beliefs and practices.  Agriculture required an understanding of the earth’s cycles.

What has come of this reflection is something which leans toward Stoicism.  A philosophy from 3rd Century BC, it is a belief that logic is the way, not our emotional reactions.  The world is unpredictable, but we do not need to be unpredictable as well. In fact, we can find happiness in failure.   We only control what we can control.

As I said before, I always believe hard-work, truth, and perseverance are key to a good life. Due to my childhood, my emotions tend to get in the way at times.  Therefore failure was never a good option and when it did happen, I lost myself almost entirely.  Of course, you get through it by understanding, learning, and adjusting.  Sounds a bit stoic?

For me, nature is my church.  A good hiking path, a grand canyon view, a creek-side rock are all places I can let my soul go and listen to myself.

Stay tuned… more on this later.