There is a simple way to make a rather dramatic change in the trajectory of your life. It involves letting go of a self-centered approach to life and embracing a life dedicated to the common good of all. I call it turning your “m” upside down – taking the letter “m” from the self-centered word “me” and turning it upside down until it becomes the letter “w” and the word become “we”. It is a conscious effort to consider the impact on others when making decisions in your life and not just yourself. It is also a commitment to be more inclusive, less prejudiced and more open to others – to expand the “we” members in your life.
We became a very me-oriented society sometime in the 1990’s and things have only gotten worse in the new century. It is that focus on “me” that has also increasingly lead to the polarization of society, as people began to seek out and gravitate towards others who thought like “me”. It became the norm to also identify the “them” in our lives who were not like “me” and thus to be vilified. Prejudices whether racial or based upon other factors like sexual preferences are basically a definition of people who are not like “me”. We seek the comfort of others who think like they do because it is less lonely than just “me” and it provides some sense of justification of our beliefs within the anonymity of a group. At the end of the day it is still a “me” reaction to life.
The truth is that we do not and cannot live in a “me” world. The world is not about me and our lives cannot be about that either. Christ did not say “Love yourself”; instead he said love your neighbor as you love yourself. Christ was telling us to take that “m” in me and turn it upside down so that it made the word “we”. Jesus did not tell the rich man to go get more money, more possessions and more power for himself. He told him to sell everything that he had and give the money to the poor. He was trying to help that man see that “we” is more powerful that “me”. Unfortunately, that man wandered off unable to bring himself to turn his “m” upside down.
There are those who have a knee-jerk reaction to any discussion of the “we” aspect of life – the common good for all. They immediately label it as Socialism and, out of their limited understanding of that term and their misguided prejudices, they dismiss it. That reaction is driven by the fear that becoming concerned about “we” means giving up something for “me”. Our lives are about much more than just money and possessions – they are about how we live them. It is time to stop and think about how focused you are upon the “me” and what you can do to turn your “m” upside down and become more about the “we” in your life – your family, your friends and all of the people that you’ve been leaving out because they were not part of “us”.
If you can do that, I think you’ll find that you are living a much more rewarding and fulfilling life. There is happiness, joy and reward to be found in “we” that are missing when you r focus in just upon “me”. Even if the “me” ends up with a little less, the reward to be found in focusing upon “we” more than lakes up for any sacrifice, made by me. The country that consistently ranks as having the happiest society in the world is Finland, followed by Denmark, Norway, Iceland, and The Netherlands. One might ask how societies in such remote and somewhat rugged locations be so happy? In all those countries there are societies more attuned to “we” than just to “me”. Even our neighbor to the north – Canada – provides an example of how much more friendly a society can be when it is more focused on “we” than “me”.
It all starts with each ”me”. Each me must each make the individual decision to focus more on the common good and not just on our own good. If enough “me’s” start doing that it will tum into an “us” that we can be proud to be a part of and “we” will all be better off.
What will you do today to turn your “m” upside down and become a “we” person?