This Article First Appeared in Happify
The odds are pretty high that at some point you faced a major setback in life that, while it was happening, seemed like the worst thing that could ever happen to you. But, with the gift of perspective, when you looked back months, years, even decades later, you smiled at how what happened turned out to be the best thing possible.
I think that’s how 2020 will be remembered. Right now, while we’re in the thick of it, it feels like nothing could be worse. First came the pandemic. Then the economic downturn, job loss, and financial insecurity. And now, the acknowledgment of long-standing racial injustices that make us doubt our very humanity.
The masks we wore to feel in control of our lives have been snatched away and we’ve been brought face to face with reality. But from this raw and fragile place, I believe something beautiful can emerge. The year 2020 can, in fact, become the best year of our lives. And yet, not in the way we’d imagined when it was fresh and new. Recall that as 2019 drew to a close, most of us were planning a year where we’d pursue our dreams and let go of fears that had held us back. In hindsight, those were mostly selfish dreams. But 2020 has reminded us, every day, that our collective lives are intertwined in more ways than we can appreciate. When you fall ill, I do too. When you bleed, I bleed alongside you. And when you rise, I rise on your shoulders.
We are each other’s only safekeepers. Each other’s only hope.
This year can be the one when our humanity goes through its rebirth. When we recognize that the baggage we’ve been dragging disservices us. And learn to value the sacred interconnectedness that binds us.
If you’re a mother, you know the birthing process. Painful, sometimes excruciatingly. Full of moments when you wish you could give up. Times when you start losing hope and have to find strength in the vision of something beautiful about to be born. In the sound of a little heartbeat, however faint, that keeps ticking.
We can hear that sound in the many acts of goodness we’ve seen over the past few months. First, in the frontline workers, whose bravery brought tears to our eyes as these individuals put their lives at risk to heal, feed, and help those in need. Now, in the hundreds of thousands who are voicing their cries for peace and fighting for a world where human lives are no longer stolen because of the color of their skin.
Human goodness is the heartbeat of our societies, the elixir that takes our breath away.
But just as a mother must do her part in order for an unborn baby to emerge into the world, we all have an important role to play in our planet’s emergence. It’s the role we were given through the gift of life—to spread love and light. It really is the ultimate purpose of life and one that we forget as we go about our dreams and ambitions. Personal goals are important, but not at the expense of what makes us human.
Here’s a tangible way of fulfilling this essential role that I find particularly helpful. Think of yourself like a drop of water being released into the ocean. Because isn’t that who we really are—little droplets in this vast flow of life?
The ripples you create determine the lives you impact and the mark you make in this world. If you live your life in fear, you weaken your soul and create only a few ripples. You’re only able to connect with family, friends, and your religious, cultural, or political communities—the people who you think of as “like me.”
But if you own your worth, your heart-centered and soulful life creates ripples that extend far into the richness of humanity until they become one with the ocean. That’s what the world needs of us. It always did. But now it isn’t giving us a choice.
So, take some time today to think about the ripples you’re creating. How far do they go? How many circles are you creating? Who are the people in them? And what will you do to extend your ripples, one circle at a time? You may want to begin with one person, or an entire community. You may want to start closer to home or step farther away from your comfort zone. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that you begin.