Wow, that’s a big question.
But it’s a wrong question to ask.
Hmm…, why? That’s what we talked about in school today
I wish they taught you more concrete and effective things about the world in school. But anyway, let me explain. Question – what is “the world”?
This planet, and all the people on it.
Okay. Are all people the same?
No, each person is different.
Right, each one of us is totally unique, with different desires, needs and thoughts. So, what do you mean by “making the world a better place”? better for whom? better in what way?
I don’t know – safer, richer, more advanced?
Okay, how do you know that all people want to be safer or richer or more advanced?
I assume that being safer and richer is better for everyone.
Why do you assume that? I know a lot of people that are perfectly fine risking their lives every day in car racing and enjoy it, I know people that won’t like to be richer and are perfectly fine where they are. So who are you to decide for them that the world needs to be safer or that everyone needs to be richer?
I was just assuming it’s good for everyone.
You can’t assume those kind of things. Forget about the world, I don’t even know what is good for you and you don’t know what is good for me. Each of us is so different, that assuming anything about what will make them happier, is false by definition.
So how does one know what is good for him?
Now that is a very valid question and a hard one to answer.
If you want to know how to become happier, you’ll have to know yourself really well and discover what are those things that make you happy. The best way to know, is think about how you react to things – what pleases you, what makes you uncomfortable, what bores and what excites you. Those are important signals to who you are and what makes you tick. Those things are hints to the life you should aspire to live.
You mean, like the way I get excited about a new Manga book?
Exactly, that fact that you like Manga drawings says something about you. I don’t understand what you find in those cartoons, but that doesn’t matter and you shouldn’t care about what I think about Manga – this is your thing and you should explore it all the way.
So you think I should be a Manga artist?
First, it doesn’t matter what I think. You should be the one deciding about that. Secondly, you need some time alone to think about what it is that you specifically find exciting, are those the drawings, or characters or the storylines, or maybe it is something else?
Understanding exactly what you like and how to go about getting more of it, is one of the toughest things for a person to figure out. For some people it is very obvious, people usually say “they were born to do that” about them. You should discover what you were born to do and what will bring you the most happiness.
But what if what I like is not productive or regarded as important? what if I just like to play games?
My suggestion is not to accept other people’s standards to what is considered “productive” or “important”. Someone is making a very good living from drawing those Manga books, and creating the games you’re playing with, right? Is that “important”?
It’s important for me.
Right, and I guess it is important for him or her as well. So disregard what other people say and just do your thing. Many people “decide” on what they are going to be without thinking about who they really are, what they are good or bad at. You shouldn’t be a businessman if business doesn’t interest you, and you shouldn’t be a doctor if curing people is boring to you. You should take the time to understand yourself and then do what you can to build yourself the right life that will make you the happiest you can be.
If everyone followed that advice – the world will be a better place – one person at a time. No one could or should “make this world a better place” for anyone other than him or herself – if they tell you otherwise, they want something from you.
So I need to think about what I truly like?
Yes. Understanding that is a key to happiness.
Okay Dad. I’ll think about it.
You do that. The time just before you fall asleep is a great time to think about it.
That means I need to go to sleep now?
I guess so.
Good night Dad.
Good night my dearest.