Maybe it was how I was raised, or maybe I’ve just always loved material things, but I’ve had a huge change in mindset. It all started when I was watching a documentary like I normally do. One that was supposed to change the way we think about things, life, the world in general. The documentary itself wasn’t that great, but the message it was conveying hit me like a rock. It caught my attention specifically when they mentioned Charles Darwin. Darwin was famously known for the thinking of “survival of the fittest“. Anyone who’s ever taken a psychology class or even a science class has most likely heard this term. Survival of the fittest is what Darwin believes evolution came down to. The animals that had the correct traits survived and the ones who didn’t…well…didn’t survive; survival of the fittest. Sadly, Darwin’s main message was supposed to be about how animals naturally wanted to help each other, a community like relationship among one another. But all we took from his research was that if you weren’t the best you were going to die off.
For some time now my life goal has been to; get rich, get famous, live/die happy. I quit my day job, thinking I would have all this time to think of some “get rich” plan. Well, here I am, almost 5 months later, and I have yet to come up with anything at all, well, except for this blog, but this too has yet to monetize itself. One thing my stupid day job was good for was taking me to a stupid conference. Yes, a stupid orthodontist office took its stupid employees to a stupid two day, three night, conference. Most of the speakers were boring and talked for an entire hour each about how you can turn your dinky office into a multi-million dollar corporation. But then there was one speaker who turned the subject from money to people. Not only did he talk about people, he talked about helping people. He brought the entire room of orthodontic assistance, and finance ladies, and front desk workers, to tears. Most of us were unhappy with our jobs, unhappy having to be away from our families all day and now all weekend, but this guy made it all worth it. This self made orthodontist did not come from a wealthy family like most. His parents were poor hippies, he had 8 or so siblings, and he had lived in a one bedroom apartment with his wife until last year. He told the story about how he had been judged as a child for being poor, how he distinctly remembered front desk women at a doctors office being rude to his mom because they didn’t have nice clothes. This orthodontist wasn’t telling us how to make our office rich. He was telling us how to have more compassion for people.
After getting home from the stupid conference, I was overfilled with excitement and optimism. It felt like I was just seeing the world again. My outlook on life was all wrong. People were the reasons for everything. I had always been nice to patients at my job, but when I got back to work the next week, I saw them more as people and not as work. Instead of my life long goal being to just get rich, I realized that I wanted to get rich AND help people.
Every now and then compassion still takes effort. You see people at the grocery store as a hassle, you feel like everyone is in your way. Before this documentary I still saw so much in material things. When I was still working, I made around $2,000 a month. I was essentially living paycheck to paycheck, not because I didn’t make enough, but because I was spending all of my money on things I didn’t need. I would feel terrible after working a long, hard, exhausting week, then make myself feel better by going to Target and buying whatever I wanted. The thing is, I would feel good only while doing the actual shopping, but almost as soon as I got to the register to pay, the good feeling went away. The good feeling would come back when I got home and took all of the stuff I bought out of the bags. But then, as I sat there in my tiny apartment, I would go right back to feeling…just ugh. That’s the only way to explain it. A feeling of wanting, but not knowing what I wanted. There was an emptiness not being filled. I notice the same thing happens around Christmas time. The good feeling comes with buying things for others but it’s not the same good feeling when you receive gifts from others.
After quitting my job I had an extreme feeling of guilt. I sort of had an epiphany that was this; what makes me any better than anyone else and vise versa. This goes for anyone. Celebrities, millionaires, billionaires, business owners, your boss, your co-workers, the homeless man begging on the street corner. I have been guilty for years of judging people on the clothes they wear, the cars they drive, the houses, or lack there of, they live in. It doesn’t make any sense. People are not what they wear. People are not their jobs. People are not the size or quality of their homes. People should be judged on how they treat other people.
In nature, animals have an amazing sense of community among themselves. The wolf pack for example; the weak and old walk in the front, the females and pups walk in the middle, the strong and the leader walk in the back. Why? Because they take care of each other. The wolf pack is designed so that the weak and old do not get left behind. So why isn’t mankind the same way? Well, we used to be similar to the wolf pack, but along the way, we decided that each man for himself. Whoever was better got more. The strongest and the more powerful have more than they need while the weak and the old get the scraps, or sometimes nothing at all. Nature is designed to take only what it needs and nothing more. Humans used to do the same, but some how we got greedy and our compassion and sense of community was lost. Even the places that are supposed to be designed to have the most compassion, like churches, are failing do enough. Churches used to be a place anyone could go and usually get help, or food, or a place to stay. Now, churches are just as judgmental as the rest of the world. Most of the time they don’t actually give or do anything for other people except for maybe the ones who actually go to the church.
So now, the joy I used to get out of buying a nice, new, more expensive, outfit is not quite there anymore. The expensive, delicious, pricey, meal I used to love at a fancy restaurant doesn’t taste the same. How am I supposed to enjoy my lifestyle or even feel deserving of my lifestyle knowing I only get it at others expense. The way our economy is designed is that someone always gets more than they need because someone isn’t getting anything. Over the years, this has become the norm. Instead of striving to give everyone what they need, we strive to get more than our neighbor or more than what we got last month. The truth is, the resources, the money, it’s all there. There is absolutely no reason that people still need to go hungry, especially in our own country, other than that someone is getting more than what they need.
My goal is not simply to “get rich” anymore. If I get rich that’s great but if I don’t, I hope it’s because I spent more time helping than getting. I used to think my dream was to have this big, nice, gorgeous mini mansion. I don’t need it. Nothing I used to want will make my life any better or myself any happier. The majority of people think they would be so much happier with more money, bigger homes, nicer things. Think about how much better you would feel doing more for someone else. Help someone. It doesn’t have to be constant. But every now and then, if everyone shows a little more compassion for each other, if we could all see that we are all just humans and not machines, the world would be a much better place.