|Most people want to live healthy, fulfilling, happy lives. We want to do things that are not only exciting and fun, but meaningful and important as well. Besides our personal goals, we want to be involved with something that improves our overall quality of life in society. But how do we go about choosing a cause that is meaningful and important and worthy?MISTAKES TO AVOIDDiscovering what is meaningful and important takes effort, and we can make mistakes along the way:
- Mistake One: Thinking that a cause must be good because it sounds good. Not everyone wants to put forth the effort to choose a worthy cause, but they still want to feel like they “are making a difference.” So without giving it much thought, many folks latch onto somebody else’s great-sounding idea of what is meaningful and important. The trouble is, many great-sounding “causes” have harmed millions of people, including the proponents of those causes.
- Mistake Two: Thinking that a cause must be for other people – not for you. You might think that a cause must have nothing in it for you if it is to be considered a “worthy” rather than a “selfish” cause. This mistaken idea puts each person’s welfare at war with the welfare of everybody else. It makes you think you have to choose between your own wellbeing and the wellbeing of others.
Thank goodness you don’t have to accept this false alternative because the conditions that improve your quality of life are the same conditions that improve everyone’s quality of life. For example, in order to strive for opportunity, justice and freedom for yourself, you must strive for opportunity, justice and freedom for everyone in society.
- Mistake Three: Thinking that a cause has to be “bigger than you.” How many times have you heard that you have “to lose yourself” in something that’s “bigger” than you? The fact is no cause is bigger than you because there is no cause without you. However, a “cause” is bigger than most of your other goals because it encompasses a bigger view of your life. It helps you see your everyday doings in terms of the total picture of your life. The “size” of the cause depends on the size of the overall goal you are after.
When you think that a cause has to be bigger than you, you can also fall into the trap of thinking that a cause is something you must “live for.” This kind of thinking sacrifices you “for the sake of” the cause (which ends up sacrificing you to the people who are “running” the cause). This is all backwards: you don’t choose a cause to have something to live for – you choose a cause in order to make your life better. You and the betterment of your life are the reason for the cause. Freedom, for example, is an all-encompassing cause, but you do not exist for the sake of “freedom.” You strive for freedom in order to improve the conditions that make living among other people mutually beneficial. Your goal is your freedom to pursue a better quality of life when living in a society.
WHAT IS A WORTHY CAUSE?
A worthy cause is an overall goal that is both HEALTHY for you as a human being and IMPORTANT to you as a human being.
1. To Be Worthy, A Cause Must Be PERSONALLY HEALTHY
A worthy cause must first and foremost improve YOUR physical and psychological health. Human beings cannot live healthy, fulfilling, happy lives unless they are free to do so. Without the freedom to act according to your own best thinking and judgment it becomes dangerous to think outside the politically-correct box. This destroys your creativity and initiative and reduces human beings to living (like children) by permission, rather than living (like adults) by right. A healthy cause must honor each person’s freedom to act when it comes to personal choices for his or her own life. To honor personal choice, a healthy cause must be voluntary, not forced upon you by other people, and not forced upon other people by you. A cause that fosters voluntary relationships is healthy; a cause that fosters forced relationships is unhealthy.
2. To Be Worthy, A Cause Must Be PERSONALLY IMPORTANT
You must feel personally passionate about your cause, not personally indifferent to it. If you think you should feel indifferent toward your cause where YOU are concerned, but passionate about your cause where OTHERS are concerned, your indifference will transform your passion into a mere DUTY. Any worthy cause MUST be aselfish cause – one that YOU deeply care about, one that is important enough for you to strive for!
HERE’S HOW TO GET STARTED
How do you discover a cause that is right for you? Above all, avoid picking a cause just because other people have chosen it. You don’t have to depend on other people or their causes – you can come up with your owncause and you can strive for it on your own. You can also team up with other people who share your same overall goal.
But first YOU must find out what is most important to you and then decide if that is something you want to strive for. Only then does it truly become your cause. Here are some helpful steps you can take:
STEP ONE: Make a list of the things that are most important to you. Important things are things that will make your life healthier, happier, and more fulfilling FOR YOU. And important things are things that you think are worth striving for. These are your most important goals.
Your list will depend on your interests and your circumstances. If someone else is trying to run your life, you may want to list freedom as one of your top priorities to strive for. If you are already free, you may choose to strive for better ways of doing things in your favorite field of interest: food, clothing, shelter, tools, health, education, art, recreation, transportation, communication, money management, entertainment, or human relationships.
Warning: Do not list anything that you yourself aren’t willing to strive for – if you are not willing to go after something, it is not one of your most important goals.
STEP TWO: Make a list of “beautiful-sounding” causes that you have heard of. Just because they are other people’s goals doesn’t mean that you can’t choose those goals, too. Put a checkmark beside the ones that are important to you for your life. Add these to your first list.
STEP THREE: Convert one of your personal goals into a cause. Each of the things on your “important” list can be converted into a cause.
If one of your goals is to lose weight, you might want to dedicate yourself to the cause of helping other people lose weight so that you can have positive reinforcement and live among happier, healthier people.
If one of your goals is to become a teacher, you might want to dedicate yourself to the cause of teaching people how to think and learn on their own so that you can live in an educated, civilized society.
If one of your goals is to become a great pianist, you might want to dedicate yourself to the cause of helping young people appreciate music so you can live in a culture where good music is appreciated.
All three causes benefit you. And all three causes benefit your fellow human beings.
STEP FOUR: Give your cause a “Worthiness Test.” Before you to dedicate yourself to a cause, see if your cause passes the following “Worthiness Test:”
- Does this cause sacrifice your life and your liberty to pursue your happiness to someone else’s idea of what’s good?
- Does this cause sacrifice someone else’s life and his liberty to pursue his happiness to your idea of what’s good?
- Does this cause promote the life and the liberty of everyone to pursue his or her own happiness, including you?
If you said yes to (a) or (b) you will know that the cause is unworthy because (a) allows other people to violate your freedom to make personal choices for your own life and (b) allows you to violate other people’s freedom to make personal choices for their own lives.
If you said yes to (c) you will know that the cause is a worthy one because (c) honors each person’s freedom to make personal choices for his or her own life.
STEP FIVE: Circle the life-promoting cause that is the MOST meaningful, important, and exciting to you. (Don’t be afraid; you can always choose another cause if you discover something that’s more important to you.) If your choice is something that will improve your life, and if it is something that you truly want, then making it your cause will give your life a wider scope of direction and purpose and make you feel more vibrantly alive!
I’d love to hear how these steps work for you — feel free to email me at Terry@YourRecipeForLivingCoach.com, or post a comment on my Break Free Blog at www.YourRecipeForLivingCoach.com. Please know that you are welcome to share this BREAK FREE TIP by forwarding this message to a friend or colleague.