The Two Most Important Questions
I woke up the other morning at 5 am with two questions burning in my mind. It had been a while since I'd woken up early and did any writing so I got up, fixed a pot of coffee and decided to explore the two questions that were lingering in my head.
I didn't wake up in our Baja home where I thought my family and I would be at this time. I woke up in our room at Kassie’s parents house in Garden Grove. A series of family health issues along with the news of my best friends passing lead us back to Southern California early. You don't usually ask big questions when you are in paradise feeling dandy; no they usually arise when things seem to be falling apart and you find yourself without a clear plan on what's next.
The two questions that came up that I feel are the most important questions we can ask ourselves are “What can I give?” and “How can I give more?”
A couple of weeks ago I received news of my best friends passing at all too early of an age. In the last week, two other dear family friends have passed suddenly. When we lose loved ones we are reminded of how fragile life really is and how we are never guaranteed tomorrow. It's sort of a cruel gift imparted upon us by the loss of others. The best thing we can do to honor them, perhaps is to listen to the message and live our lives in the most authentic way possible.
I feel these two questions (or rather the answers to them) are the best way to live an authentic life.
What can I give? How Can I give more?
What talents or skills are you holding back from giving the world? Maybe it’s time to pull out the paintbrushes or time to pick up the pen and put some energy into the things we are most passionate about. I believe everyone is an artist in their own way yet many don't realize it. Whether it’s cooking or an ability to create warm atmospheres in which people gather for a good time. My Mom is a great example of this type of artist (and many others will agree!) though she may not consider herself an artist. Many people have incredible talents that are never shared with the world. We may not always realize it, but these creative endeavors are gifts to the world. Holding back is doing no one any good. One of the most tragic things to me is the idea of leaving this world with unspoken poems, with unheard music, with all the gifts of our heart, kept to ourselves.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” - Marianne Williamson
One of the most valuable things we can ever give is time. What ways can we give our time? Presence is perhaps the best expression of time that we can give. With who or where can we give that presence? Start with the ones closest to you, the people you hold dearest to your heart. Are we giving presence to our partners? To our kids? To our parents? From there we can branch out. I have a bad habit (and I am sure a lot of us do) of letting that shiny little device come out and kill presence all too often. It’s the downfall of modern life. At the dinner table, in conversation, and walking down the street, we are continuously checking our phones, looking to get one more hit of dopamine from seeing a “like” or even better— a comment! I have a feeling at the end of life many of us will regret how much time and presence was wasted on our phones and social media.
Who else can we give presence to? Maybe we can take the time to send a message to that old friend we haven't talked to in a while or better yet, make a phone call! We often don't realize how many people genuinely care about us and would love to hear from us. It really can make a difference in someone's day. At the end of life I don't believe it will be the things we did or where we went that matters, but rather who we were with and who we gave our time and presence to that really matters.
Where else can we give time and presence to? How about ourselves? Again, in the modern day our phones and devices steal presence not only from others but from ourselves. Whether it’s in meditation, self-reflection, a quiet walk, or doing our favorite hobbies--there is immense value in giving presence to ourselves. As the Dalai Lama said, “But who can you help if you're unhappy?” This includes giving presence to our bodies; after all without them we couldn't give anything in this world. We can give presence to our bodies in many different ways whether it’s yoga, exercise, or just presence in prepping our meals.
What Can I give? How Can I give more?
How about in terms of energy? Where in our lives do we need to give more energy? Perhaps in making our living space more comfortable. Or in areas of our work. Or maybe giving energy in helping a friend finish a project? How about volunteering with our community? In the book, The Five Secrets You Must Discover Before You Die, in which author John Izzo interviewed over 200 people between age 60 and 106 who were identified by others as having lived happy lives and as having found contentment and purpose states, “The happiest people I interviewed knew their life had mattered, they had been of service. The most miserable people had focused on themselves and finding happiness, getting love, accumulating things, status, and fame.”
I feel these two questions are the most powerful questions we can ask whether in our personal lives or in entrepreneurship. As author, engineer, entrepreneur, and X Prize founder Peter Diamandis says, "If you want to be a billionaire than help a billion people."
In what ways can we give? What are you giving? How can we give more? Let us know in the comments!