How Do You Want to Help?

Jul 26, 2019

5 minutes

How do you want to help?

How do you want to help the world you live in?

How do you want to help the community, the city, the country, the planet you call home?

Maybe I’m asking the wrong questions – of you, and of myself.

Maybe I should start with something simpler.

Let’s try this:

How CAN you help?

How CAN you help the community, the city, the country, the planet you call home?

With our world of social media + instant gratification, it’s easy to focus on the big stuff. The big wins, the big changes, the big names.

Do you ever feel overwhelmed? Like nothing you do matters? Like you’re just a drop in a bucket with a hole in it?

That’s OK. I feel that too.

Maybe paying so much attention to what everyone else is doing isn’t helping us?

Maybe we’re forgetting the basics?

“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” – Lao Tzu

If you’re reading this, you’re probably human. Me too! Nice to know we’re playing for the same team. *wink*

While I think to think of myself as a progressive person, there’s a fact that I can’t escape.

I’m not that far out of the cave. Neither are you, or any other human alive right now.

What I mean is that I’m still driven by very basic instincts: the need for food and water; the need for connection; the need to be safe: the need to reproduce (or at least attempt to, ha!).

When we think about the overall evolution of the planets, then our planet, then basic organisms, more complex organisms, leading to plants, fish, mammals, and then humans … it’s been a long journey.

Humans that are similar to us, anatomically modern humans (or AMH as the scientific community calls them) – those humans who started to develop abstract thinking, music, dance, art, large game hunting, and planning; emerged around 50,000 years ago.

With our modern lifespan of around 70 years, 50,000 seems like an eternity, but in the full 4.54 billion years the universe has existed, that’s absolutely nothing.

For my math nerds, that’s .000001102% of the entirety of measurable history.

In that time, modern humans have gone from living in caves to mass migrations to establishing farming communities and cities to the Roman Empire and the birth of Christianity to Buddha to the Dynasties of China to Columbus sailing “around the world” to the Industrial Revolution to World Wars … and here we are.

It’s still kinda hard to fathom, isn’t it?

The best explanation I’ve ever seen is Carl Sagan’s Cosmic Calendar. In it, he uses an entire calendar year to map the full history of the universe.

If you haven’t watch Neil deGrasse Tyson’s first season of Cosmos (re-made from Carl Sagan’s original version), he explores the Cosmic Calendar in-depth in a fun + mind-blowing way.

Here’s what you need to know: if the entire history of our known world, since the Big Bang, is placed on a one-year calendar, human existence comprises less than the last 60 seconds on December 31st.

So, we’re not that far out of the cave.

The progress that our human species has made in just the last 200 years is unfathomable in comparison to the long time scale of the universe.

That also means that we are in no way; mentally, physically, emotionally; adapted to our modern world.

You and I operate from brain chemistry that would be strikingly similar to a fellow Homo Sapien from nearly 50,000 years ago.

We’re in awe of other people’s lives, other people’s accomplishments (no matter how filtered they are), and at the same time, we feel deeply threatened by them, as if they were a lion chasing us at full speed.

But it’s not that big of a deal.

Those followers who left you on social media?

Those shiny, super-styled selfies you envy?

Those clothes, that car, that house that you lust after?

None of it is that big of a deal.

Your brain may try to make you think it is, but it’s not.

You won’t be worried about that shit when you’re on your deathbed, so why worry about it now?

So, what IS a big deal?

How you want to help. How you can help.

Humans (like you and I) are social creatures. We are community-based, and yes, even as an introvert + Enneagram 5, I’m saying that.

I seek out communities of people that I can relate to: science-minded people, Yogis, entrepreneurs, writers, authors, people who like in-depth conversations and don’t want to talk about the fucking weather (unless it’s about weather patterns … etc.).

I also seek out local communities here in Austin, Texas, from fellow foodies (I know nearly the entire staff at my favorite ramen place I go every Saturday) and local entrepreneurs to Japanese language practice partners and hikers.

Within these communities, I also like to contribute. I like to help people, especially in the unique way I can help, with the wacky combination of knowledge + experience that I have.

I doubt that I’m going to change the entire trajectory of our society or culture by the ways I help, but seeing someone smile after a long talk or watching their body relax after we do an in-depth dive into planning the next 90 days in their business – that’s priceless.

I love sharing meals with people and being a good friend.

I love volunteering to help local nonprofits make a bigger difference than I could ever make on my own.

I love sharing what I know with entrepreneurs in communities I’ve never been in because we can all help each other in one way or another.

Even if what I’m doing on a day-to-day basis isn’t Instagram-worthy (I doubt you’d want to watch a live stream of me typing this article), I’m here. I’m helping. I’m contributing. I’m making the world a little better, one choice, one conversation, one article at a time.

If at least half of the world was asking themselves, “How do I want to help? How can I help?” and taking the first step, our world would transform drastically (even faster than the Cosmic Calendar could track).

Without going all political on you, this world is focused on stupid shit that won’t matter to our great great great grandchildren. I refuse to fight with someone because of their race, gender, sexual preference, religious or spiritual beliefs, or anything else that tries to separate them from me as a fellow human being.

We all have a skeleton, we all have a body, we all are here for a limited time. 

Don’t waste it, my friend. 

Instead, ask yourself:

How do I want to help?

How can I help?

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.

No small gesture goes unnoticed. No small kindness is wasted.

Help any way you can, big or small. Help by doing. Help by asking. Help by paying.

No matter the form, help is always needed, and helping serves you as much as those you choose to help.

Photo by J W on Unsplash

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