In the middle of the last decade, I attended a “personal growth workshop.” It wasn’t a workshop about eating healthy or working out to maintain wellbeing (as important as they are). It was about putting together a personal mission statement. I took the workshop seriously and got to work. I put some mission centers together of what I wanted to achieve and wordsmithed the statement until I was satisfied. The mission statement I compiled for myself is supposed to provide direction to my life and is, contrary to popular belief about mission statements, very flexible.
“To empower myself and others to actively contribute to the singular communities they live in, in order to impact the world through increased quality of life.”
Since this mission statement was put together, it has given me great direction through the years and really added comprehension in 2019. I summarize 2019 in three words; outlook, self-actualization, and benevolence.
The Outlook of Life.
In 2019, one of my good friends gave me a gift – a book. It’s called Factfulness and was written by late Professor Hans Rosling, a Swedish author. This book changed the way I look at the world, understanding that each day, despite what I see online, the world is getting much better. Conceptualized emergencies can add stress to our lives and Factfulness reminded me to stop and evaluate the effects of the messages I see in the world. So I changed my environment; the pages I follow online, the content I read, and the personalities I interact with.
Contrary to what we see online on a daily basis, the world as a whole is getting better. More children are going to school, poverty rates around the world are decreasing, there are fewer deaths due to war, there are fewer wars, and diseases are being eradicated all over the world. True, we can’t just throw our hands up in the air and say it’s a perfect world. We must consistently keep urging resources to maintain these standards and to help those we haven’t reached yet, but some of the emergencies we see through our screens can displace us of our earthliness.
The wants and needs. self-actualization.
2019 also provided me many opportunities to identify myself. Maslow would be proud (for context on the joke, refer to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs). Over the year, I understood that I am extremely privileged – the blessings of the people around me, my ability to pursue an education, my willingness to serve, and everything in between. So it allowed me to understand my responsibility to become a sense of hope, not to the entire world, but to the people around me.
I also realized that patience and virtue are the two things I should grow in. For me, the growth of IVolunteer International was a dream and now that it is established and expanding, I wanted to realize that slow and steady expansion can do more good. Too often, we get involved comparing ourselves to others and their accomplishments, that we miss out on what is right in front of us. 2019 provided me the opportunity to understand that our nature is not to compete but to collaborate. Wishing the best for everyone and steadily focusing on my individual goals brought focus, peace, and actualization into my life.
The responsibility of benevolence.
Kindness is a long-known value of humankind. But kindness is seldom practiced. In 2019, I learned how deep kindness can run with forgiveness and hope. I learned that there is a possibility to wish the best upon the people who harm, empathize with those who are hurt, and to give the gift of humanity to everyone.
I learned that as human beings, the foundational value of our existence is benevolence – do unto others as you would have them do unto you – repeated in all forms of languages, scripts, philosophies, and memes.
I look forward to 2020 for more opportunities to grow and serve, as we keep contributing to the increase in the quality of all of our lives.