I spend a fair amount of time talking about ways to make the world a better place. However, I rarely address an important issue:
What if MY idea of a better world is different than YOUR idea of a better world?
This is a major problem for a few reasons. First, what would give me the right to determine what is best for you? My rights end when your rights are being infringed upon. I have pretty strong libertarian leanings, so that idea makes me balk at suggesting wholesale changes to the greater society.
Second, all plans are nothing more than guessing. Life likes to throw curve balls. And sliders. And if life has runners at first and third with one out and is protecting a one-run lead, maybe even a ground ball-inducing sinker. Those variations would require constant adjusting of a universal plan. Also, plans have a tendency to inhibit the embracing of serendipity. If a great opportunity comes along and isn’t part of the plan, we might not risk going after it.
Third, what’s good for the goose isn’t always good for the gander. From a purely practical standpoint, ideas that would work great for individuals living in urban Southern California could be useless or even counterproductive for people living in the mountains of Tennessee.
Fourth, trying to change others is a waste of time and energy. This prevents us from intensively working on ourselves to make our own world better.
So Why Bother?
We have incredible control over our existence… if only we recognize it. We can control what we do. We can control what we think (mostly.) We can control what we do as a career. We can control how we let others treat us.
We can use this control to live our lives however we want. We can choose to surround ourselves with things that excite us. Or we can choose to surround ourselves with things that make us miserable.
The key- it’s a choice.
We can use that power to choose to create our own utopia. If we focus on that goal, we can let go of the tendency to try to change others. When creating our own utopia, we circumvent all the problems listed above:
- We don’t have to worry about infringing on the rights of others because were not trying to change them… we’re focused on changing what we can control: ourselves.
- We can be open to serendipity, even if we have a very detailed plan. Smaller organizations can change direction a lot faster than larger organizations. When that organization consists of a single individual, a 180 degree change on a moment’s notice is entirely possible.
- We don’t have to worry about generalizing our utopia to other, different people since were only concerned about our own personal utopia.
- We don’t waste time and energy trying to change others since our lone goal is to change ourselves. Like frying ants with a magnifying glass, focusing energy on a single target is exceedingly powerful.
Weird Unintentional Benefits
When we create our own personal utopia, we welcome the positive and eliminate the negative. Our perceived happiness skyrockets. This has a powerful effect on those around us… it makes their lives far better.
In The Sexpressionists blog, relationship health is a reoccurring theme. The key to a great relationship is creating your own utopia. When you’re happy and secure, you can grow. When you can grow freely, you can help make sure your significant other is happy and secure so they can grow. At that point, your positivity can feed off each other. If you have kids, that happiness can trickle down to children. It can spread to other extended family members, too. Maybe even friends and neighbors.
Far too many people want to do that backwards. They want to assure everyone else is happy at the expense of self. You can’t create utopia on a foundation of unfulfilled needs.
Another benefit to creating your own utopia is person filtering. If you’re open and honest, you feel empowered to put yourself out there. You make yourself available to developing social relationships. That process attracts like-minded positive people that share your utopian values. It also repels those that do not share your values. If you really embrace the idea of your own personal utopia, you can freely welcome new people that share your ideals. You can also be free to allow those that do not share your values to leave.
A few years ago, I met a dude named John DeVries. If his name sounds familiar, I’ve written about him before. It was more or less a random meeting based on barefoot running (as I’ve met most of my really good friends.) Our first few interactions weren’t especially notable. Over time, though, I got to know John fairly well. He turned out to be one of (if not THE) most influential person I’ve ever met. Why? He was creating his utopia. And writing about it. His ideas about friendship, careers, and life had a profound effect on me. His post about finding your passion is still one of the most powerful things I’ve ever read.
Anyway, there was a time where I would not have been open to developing a friendship with someone like John. His ideas probably would have scared me because they would have threatened the lifestyle I thought I wanted. Cognitive dissonance is tricky that way. Luckily I met him after Shelly and I decided to make wholesale changes to our lives. We started creating our utopia, and that utopia included embracing free thinkers like John.
So How Do You Make Your Own Utopia?
Unfortunately I can’t answer that. By definition, it’s YOUR utopia. You have to write the rule book. You have to paint the picture.
I can give one bit of advice- building your own utopia usually involves overcoming fear. Maybe you’re scared of change. Maybe you’re scared that you don’t really know what you’re doing. Maybe you’re scared other people won’t like your utopia. We don’t like fear. It’s one of our most powerful emotions. After all, it’s what kept our ancestors alive. It’s primitive. It’s visceral.
Luckily, overcoming fear is a lot easier than we think. All we have to do is define the fear, figure out the worst-case scenario, then make a plan for that scenario. I talked about overcoming fear in more detail here.
So there you go. You have no more excuses. Life is short, don’t wait until tomorrow. Choose to take control of your life. Start making your own personal utopia right now.