September 28
The purpose of life is to matter--
to count, to stand for something,
to have made some difference
that we lived at all.

Leo Rosten


Today's Meditation:

Making a difference seems to be one of our core desires, one of the deepest yearnings of our hearts and spirits.  It's also something that's relatively simple--at least, it's simple until our rational mind and ego start telling us that what we're doing really isn't making a difference and that we're wasting our time being useless.  Both the rational mind and the ego seem to need constant reinforcement if they're to allow us to believe that our efforts are worth something.  They need to hear "thank you for making a difference" over and over again until they leave us in peace.

But it is always possible to stand for something, whether we actually choose to do so or not.  And it's more than possible to stand for something wonderful and positive, and not just something pedestrian and safe.  When we do this, we are making a difference even if we can't actually quantify the difference that we are making.  We cannot know the difference that we're making all the time, nor should we try (unless we love to be frustrated).  The difference that we make is often one piece in a puzzle for others, who may not even recognize the positive influence you've had in their lives.

I've had crummy days made brighter by cashiers and waiters or waitresses, and have then gone on to make the day even better, enabled to do so by the slight change in perspective that those people gave me.  I've heard a kind word from a student and have felt empowered enough to do something different that day, or to be kinder to other students, and I haven't made the connection between my kindness and the kindness of the student.  I know that my life has been made better by many, many people whom I've never acknowledged--and thus I know that I've contributed in a positive way to many other lives, even if I don't regularly receive positive responses. 

You do make a difference, so be kind to yourself and leave behind the need to hear that truth from others.  Keep on keeping on, and keep on being kind, and you'll find that your life will brighten in many ways as you make the lives of others brighter--even if your contribution is just one small candle of many hundreds or thousands.  That light relies on the contribution of every single candle, and no candle is worth less than any other.

Questions to consider:

Why is it hard sometimes to think that we're making positive contributions in the lives of others?

Why do we sometimes think that our contributions have to be major and quantifiable in order for them to be "significant"?

How might you find new ways to make a difference in the world?

For further thought:

The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful,
to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make
some difference that you have lived and lived well.

Ralph Waldo Emerson
(the quotation by Rosten is a paraphrase of Emerson)

More on purpose.


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