I learned one huge lesson this past week (and also the few weeks before), something that is increasingly getting lost in the noise of today’s society. And indeed, as I continue to write on this site, my thoughts are slowly but surely crystallizing and forming the ideal mindset that I believe everyone should have – or at least, a huge component of it – and this is one concept that floats to the top of it all.
Here it is. The one thing that everyone should have is… Social Consciousness.
It is startling to note how little social consciousness is present in today’s society, but not particularly surprising. After all, from young we are taught that we need to study hard so that we can find a good job for ourselves, earn lots of money so that we can enjoy it, as well as take good care of our own family, and eventually, hoard enough money so that we can retire and have everything that we need and want.
And isn’t this the American (or Singaporean) dream? And isn’t it picture perfect?
Except, oops, we forgot about practically everyone else in the world outside our own little circles. The suffering, the pain, the less fortunate, the dying, the starving, the hungry, the neglected, the unloved.
This may sound harsh, but let’s be honest. As I’ve mentioned so many times, happiness based on fleeting things is unsustainable. But even if we commit to social causes for the sake of our own happiness, isn’t that inherently selfish? In fact, if I am to be honest with myself, isn’t everything that I do, in the end for my own benefit?
That is an incredibly pessimistic diagnosis of our lives on this earth. Are we doomed to selfish and self-absorbed endeavors? Is it inevitable that our so-called social consciousness is unattainable?
My answer? Well, my answer is no.
I say that true altruism can be cultivated.
I say that practice inevitably makes perfect.
As we practice being socially conscious intentionally, the mere act of doing brings about a life-altering paradigm shift.
We begin to help people – and really want to help.
We start to be aware of the needs around us – without even intending to.
We start to perform acts of love and kindness – without thinking of the rewards.
And in doing so, we truly have it – social consciousness – and with it, happiness.
So do this. Be socially aware, build up and practice your social consciousness. Consider others before self. Sooner or later, it will merge into your own consciousness – and everyone around you will know it.