Much of the personal growth rhetoric concludes with the highlight, "contributing to something greater than yourself" and often provides examples limited to volunteerism or helping others. This is one I have struggled with for some time. Admittedly, I limit my "giving" to generous monetary tips - just about everything else denigrates into a racket, even tithes were I so possessed given the overwhelming supporting evidence of televangelism - but much like the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, I see giving, belonging, and contributing as a trinity of mythological beasts; a hypostasis of distinct yet one - the latter of which I now believe being wholly inclusive of, while simultaneously superseding, the former two.
To contribute to something [greater than yourself] is going to require giving more than just time, money or ineffective membership. More than satisfying the instinctual sociological desire to belong - the raw visceral appeal of political parties, organized religion, sports affiliation or violent gang membership - contributing is much more of an investment, requiring an almost sacrifice of self, a rebirth or self-starting intrinsic motivation. We're all familiar with working harder at doing better on projects which interest us - a gazillion job satisfaction surveys tell us so. Think then of that level of contribution to something greater than yourself as a life project, something which pays us back far more than we could ever put in it through simple vocal or monetary alignment. Something which pays us back in unwavering, universal happiness.
To what then, do those who eschew such dichotomous associations vis-à-vis the Two-Party Swindle seek out to contribute? This is what has plagued me. Until I found the answer in the most unsuspecting of places - my past. Looking back, while almost always marred by our own idealized projections, can still provide a unique comparison to our present selves. A veritable built-in time machine function which, if utilized with the understanding that our filters will likely misinterpret the results (The Blindfold and the Chestnuts), can be used to give us a fairly accurate glimpse into one possible future.
As an empiricism junkie, I was authoring a carefully constructed piece detailing flaws in a broad assumption which I admitted I would have made myself had I not experienced it first hand. In trying to be as correct as possible in debunking some very specific (and awkwardly erroneous myths), I settled upon anecdotal troubleshooting.
[Having assumed a position] every problem I encountered proved an exciting challenge to overcome; deep philosophical issues that could touch on every aspect of societal existence. Most people complain about the same three things THEIR ENTIRE LIFE: time, money, and sex. Finding the opportunity to be faced with so much more and joyfully accepting the challenge gave purpose to my life. I wonder how many of my doe-eyed neighbors feel their life is full of purpose? Maybe they each have a story about it happening once. I found myself having created a life-purpose generator which was running full-tilt all day, every day. Life wasn't just very, very exciting - it had purpose.
A fascinating aspect of that experience was how little I focused on time, money, or sex as anything disquieting - the bane of existence for most fell to the wayside. I'm now fairly convinced only those without purpose use those three things as their focus. Hence so much unhappiness in the world.
Contributing to the purpose-filled life may very well be the apex of self-actualization, and I'm the amateur who got a peek behind the curtain. There is a world of difference between "impossible" and "hard to imagine." The first is about it while the second spotlights our own limitation.
For all others, I hear yoga is nice.