The great use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it. – William James
What does that mean?
What do we do with our lives? Yes, we eat and work and sleep and play, but when it is all said and done, what do we leave behind? To me, this is the point of the quote. What we wish to leave behind should regularly occupy our minds, if not completely dominate them.
When we die, what do we leave behind? Yes, we can make buildings, but buildings are regularly torn down to make room for newer buildings, obliterating their legacy. Instead, I would suggest that the way to make something that will last beyond our lives is to find ways to improve the human condition.
Whether it’s scientific research, new techniques and methods, or new materials, the impact can reach well beyond your lifetime. In my opinion, helping people also qualifies as something that will outlast our lives. And it may be the greatest gift we can give to the future.
Why is helping others important?
Whether it’s coming up with better ways to do things, turning ideas into inventions, or providing inspiration, you are helping others. By helping others, you are improving not just their life, but the lives of all the other people they become involved with.
Just think of all the people helped by Tesla’s AC power system and Edison’s light bulb. They made ideas into inventions, and the inventions have helped not just the people alive when they were invented, but everyone who has been touched by them since.
Where can I apply this in my life?
Most of us aren’t professional inventors, but how many of you have seen something on TV and thought “I had that idea months ago!”? I know I have. That doesn’t mean you have to act on every thought and become an inventor, although you can if you want.
For most of us, helping other people is where we are most likely to be able to make an impact that lasts. This can be anything from working to keep people safe, to improve their lives, to help them in some way, shape or form. This includes police, fire, medical, and many other professions.
For those of us not in those professions, there is always one of the oldest and most honored of profession, that of parent. After all, that is close to immortality as humanity can get. You pass along your genes and as much of your knowledge, attitudes and beliefs as your kids will accept. This also applies to extended family, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and so many more.
Beyond the familial tie, how can you help others? Just count the ways! Anything that anyone might need can count. Helping one old lady across the street might not make that big a difference in the grand scheme of things, but a lifelong habit of such action will. Not only will you help a fairly large number of old ladies across the street, but by your example, you may well inspire others to do the same. Now you’ve started a movement that will likely outlast your life.
I realize that my example in the prior paragraph was a bit silly, but it does point out how a small pattern, repeated and passed on, can make a significant difference in the lives of others, and provide a service that lasts long after you are gone.
Take a few moments and consider what you already do that might qualify. Then consider how you can do it more often, with greater intensity, or in some other manner that makes it more effective in the long run. Consider how you might pass this on to others, to allow others to join in and multiply the effect. Grab some paper and write down your top couple ideas.
Then take a few moments to consider what you might have done once or twice in the past (or almost done), things you might want to do again and more regularly. Consider when you could do these things, where you could do them, and who you might be able to talk into helping you do them. Add a few of those to your list.
Now that you have some ideas, consider how much time you have (along with any other constraints) and pick one item from the list to do more of, or to start doing. Circle or highlight it on the list, and add some thoughts on when and where you can start, and what other steps might be needed to get it rolling. Now all you have to do is get busy.
From: Twitter, @tonyrobbins
confirmed at : http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/w/williamjam101063.html
Photo by 顔なし (tasteful_tn)