To Be a Human Being = Having Problems
Something unique about humans is that we have problems. No matter what, we have a struggle to fight against.
When things are going great, we find something to call a problem, even manufacturing things to be problems, just so we can have something to battle against.
So what does it mean to be a human being? It means, simply stated, to have problems.
Now I’m using the term “problems” broadly here. It can be a flat tire, or you being out of sugar for your coffee. It can be a breakup that you are going through, or a life changing event that’s much bigger. It can be your desire to make more money, or a boss you can’t stand. These are all problems, and we all have them. When we start to feel like we don’t have any, then we create new ones.
This realization could lead us into thinking that life is kind of a negative thing. It’s just all about problems??
But an important distinction to make is that this realization isn’t a negative, or a positive about life.
It just…is life.
So then, if what it means to be a human being is to have a bunch of piled up problems, then maybe life isn’t really about problems, but rather about SOLVING PROBLEMS.
After all a problem only exists because you want to solve it. If you didn’t want to solve it, it wouldn’t be a problem.
Let me illustrate this…
The Plainest Water (Small Problems)
I drink a lot of water. It’s good for me, and I like it.
I have a buddy who doesn’t drink much water at all.
One day he says to me that he knows that he needs to drink more water, but he doesn’t because he can’t stand plain water.
Its just too plain for him?
So that means that he has a water-taste problem. I however do not. Same water, both human beings, but only one of us has a problem, because only one of us want to solve this dilemma of water being “too plain”.
Small problems like this are easily solved…
If you want to solve all your crummy little problems…take on bigger problems.
So for my friend that can’t stand plain water, he can drink gatorade or lemonade instead. That might solve his problem…but in solving it he’s going to create new ones.
Too much sugar, and he’s going to be drinking a large amount of calories, which leads to likely weight gain.
Small problems beget more, small problems!
I’ve got a better way that he can solve his crummy little water problem. Take on a much larger water problem.
Do a little research on clean drinking water in Cambodia or Ethiopia. Its enough to make you realize that we take for granted what we have, and that plain water is something that we should relish.
If he were to set out to help provide clean drinking water for these people around the world where its scarce, all the sudden his goofy little problem of water being just to plain to stand would go away.
The size of a person’s life is measured by the size of the problems they solve.
Let’s use another analogy to explain this…
If you hand a granola bar to a homeless man, how big does your life feel? Slightly bigger, right? Like you “did you good deed for the day.”
If you volunteer to work at a soup kitchen, how big does your life feel? Much bigger! You’re giving your time back to the community.
If you were to solve world hunger for good, how big does your life feel? Indescribably big, right? You would be a world-wide hero!
To make that big of a difference would be life changing for billions of people…
It’s Actually Not About Making a Difference Though…
We’re all familiar with that term, “make a difference”. As in, “I just want to make a difference in the world!”
Here’s the funny thing…
You already do make a difference in the world.
You commute to work, you made a difference in the traffic on the road. You cut a guy off, you made a BIGGER difference in the world.
You go to the grocery store, and you buy the last pound of sugar they have. You’ve now made a difference in the amount of sugar in the world.
Seems trivial? To you maybe. That guy you cut off on the commute to work, he’s under some serious stress, and for a problem like that to happen in the morning, you didn’t just wreck his commute, no, you wrecked his whole week!
The answer to the question, “do you make a difference?” is an automatic yes. We all make a difference. Every decision makes a difference.
There is a better question to ask. A better goal to set out after.
A bigger problem to solve…
Do You Make a Difference That Makes a Difference?
To actually make a difference, you have to make a difference, that makes a difference.
If you want to get up to something bigger than the rest of society, then you need to DECIDE what problems you are going to solve.
Obviously we don’t get to choose all of our problems…
Some were given to us at birth. Disease.
Some are our fault. Overweight.
Some are someone else’s fault. Car accident.
What we do get to choose is how we react to our problems. We can take responsibility for these crummy little problems. Our problems. Own them, and then solve them, and quit whining about it.
You can obviously solve the “overweight” problem very simply. It’s called diet and exercise and all it takes effort and discipline.
You may have to solve the “disease” problem daily. Maybe multiple times per day. But you can almost be certain that there is another human being out there that had it worse, and not only overcame it, but then also took on bigger problems and overcame those too!
Some problems are simple, some are complex, but rest assured that they can all be solved. It’s called ownership. Stand up, take ownership for the fact that solving this problem is your responsibility, and GO. ATTACK.
Now you’re making a difference that makes a difference in your own life.
And on we go!
How Do You Change the World Then?
Paralysis by analysis.
You analyze the worlds problems, and it causes hesitation. Inaction. The problems are just so big! “What can I do…little old me? What can I do to change the world?”
The world is to you, what it is to you. Your perception. It occurs to you in a unique way. Maybe positive, maybe negative, maybe extremely neutral (if there is such a thing).
That also means that the world is to someone else, what it is to them. Their perception. It occurs to them in an entirely different way!
You want to change the world? You don’t do that by curing world hunger, or ending all war.
You do that by changing how the world occurs for someone else.
You can’t change THE world (sorry to rain on your parade).
You can change SOMEONE ELSE’S world.
First let me tell you how you DON’T change someone’s world…
Complaining. Moping around. Being lazy, selfish, ignorant.
So how is it done then?
Does it have to be huge? No.
Can it be? Sure!
I know this post seems like it’s going somewhere righteous, and holy, but I assure you it’s not.
Changing someone’s life doesn’t have to be you building a house for them, or giving them a car, or solving world hunger. It’s often more subtle.
You are going to get less credit than you deserve for it.
I’ll tell you my favorite way to change someone’s world with a proverb used so frequently it’s almost cliché…
“Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, feed him for life.”
The key to that phrase lies in one word…
To invest knowledge in another person is one the most rewarding feelings that you can have. You add something to them in a way that can never be taken away, and can never run out.
You watch them grow and you mentor them as they make mistakes and you watch them change their own life using the techniques that you taught them.
By adding value to them, you are altering the trajectory of their life, and you have accomplished the seemingly huge task of changing the world, by changing their world.
Those “Bigger Problems” that you need to solve, are someone else’s problems. Take those on, and you’ll solve your own crummy little problems, and you’ll be making a difference that truly makes a difference.