There are three ways to live. The first way is to spend your life fighting for personal gratification. To be so selfish that you are reluctant to grow up, to commit and to sacrifice.
You become the thirty-year-old man who is afraid of being a husband and a father. Or the fully grown woman who would rather sell her dignity than sweat for anything. You become the leader who is willing to let his country burn to the ground as long as his thirst for power is quenched.
Personal gratification is born from being obsessed with individualistic happiness. And then trying to find that happiness in taking as much as possible for yourself. You aim at going up and being better than everyone even if it means using your fellow human beings as stepping stones and bruising them in the process.
Naturally, it doesn’t work out very well. Because personal gratification is a vain and temporary illusion. On the whole, it is unachievable because as human beings we are built to always want more. So we continue to take from each other, and subsequently from future generations.
You can make insincere attempts at selflessness by giving back and then awarding yourself with medals, trophies and applause. But in the end, nothing can fill the void created by a life lived in selfishness.
The second way to live life is to be a mediocre human being. To exist within the space that is available, make sacrifices when it is required, and have an ordinary life. You lie and cheat sometimes, and sometimes you are generous and noble.You live your life without contributing anything significant and without taking anything significant. This is the life that most of us live.
The third way to live is to be in constant pursuit of the greater good. You aim at living life, not to satisfy yourself but to make a positive change in the lives of those that you encounter. Your family, your community and your country. You become one of the greats.
The pursuit of the greater good is the foundation on which countries and empires have been built and sustained. Because the ‘greater good’ encompasses patriotism. Instead of aiming at a comfortable life for yourself and building only what’s good enough for you, you build for longevity. You strive to give a better life to future generations.
The pursuit of the greater good requires that you become honest with others and with yourself. This means that you don’t fight to take on work that you know you cannot execute. It means that you make decisions because they are right, not because they make you look good. It means that you swallow your pride and admit it when you are wrong.
There are only a few people who are fortunate and strong enough to pursue the greater good. To create a ripple effect. These are the people who are at peace with themselves at the end of their lives.