Take as much personal responsibility for yourself and the others people in your life as you can bear. This is what gives your life meaning. The heavier the burden, the more satisfied you will be bearing it and the more bearable life’s inevitable tragedies will be.
You cannot fix the world, but you can improve your own life, the lives of most of those you touch. You can have a positive impact on your family members, the lives of your friends, the lives of people in your workplace, the lives of your customers, and so on. You cannot tell others how to live their lives, but you can live your own life as an example to them. Most will love you for this, but some will also hate you for it. Don’t be naive in thinking all people are good and want the best for others. Most do, but some definitely do not. Over a lifetime, who knows how far your impact can positively affect the lives of others.
You improve lives by making your decisions based, not upon how good those decisions make you feel now, but how good they will make you feel a week from now, a month from now, a year from now, ten years from now. By serving your future selves, you also learn to serve others. You cannot get anywhere in life without the support of others. Others will only support you if it is in their best interest to do so.
Treat the real individuals who are around you now as though you want their support over the long-term. This means avoiding a number of common mistakes:
- Do not lie to them or abuse them because over the long term, you will always pay,
- Do not weaken them, but make them stronger. You want the support of the strong, not the weak.
- Do not turn them against each other, for they cannot be for you if they are against each other.
Finally, avoid falling prey to your own intellectual ideas about what is wrong with the world. The world is bigger and more complex than any of us can imagine. We cannot fix the world by changing it. That would mean changing or controlling six billion other people. This cannot be done, and, in the case of controlling them, should not be done.