The following is an excerpt from Ray Dalio’s book Principles (you can find the Linkedin post for it by the author here):
“It is a great paradox that individually we are simultaneously everything and nothing. Through our own eyes, we are everything—e.g., when we die, the whole world disappears. So to most people (and to other species) dying is the worst thing possible, and it is of paramount importance that we have the best life possible. However, when we look down on ourselves through the eyes of nature we are of absolutely no signiﬁcance. It is a reality that each one of us is only one of about seven billion of our species alive today and that our species is only one of about ten million species on our planet. Earth is just one of about 100 billion planets in our galaxy, which is just one of about two trillion galaxies in the universe. And our lifetimes are only about 1/3,000 of humanity’s existence, which itself is only 1/20,000 of the Earth’s existence. In other words, we are unbelievably tiny and short-lived and no matter what we accomplish, our impact will be insigniﬁcant. At the same time, we instinctually want to matter and to evolve, and we can matter a tiny bit—and it’s all those tiny bits that add up to drive the evolution of the universe.”
The book: Principles: Life and Work by Ray Dalio
Though, the excerpt sounds a little dampening at the beginning it’s just so true. Many things may appear to us to be very, very important and of enormous significance. Some days will be the “Big Days” when you have to do work of tremendous importance. During those times, we really don’t think that all this stuff, universally speaking really doesn’t matter. For example, when high school students have their final exams. Everyone is pressuring them about their studies and that they have to get good grades and stuff, but they never wait a second and think if this really matters. Getting nervous before speaking in front of a huge crowd, ask yourself, “Does this even matter?” You just need to give a speech that you think will benefit the listeners. There’s no need to think much about it. The list is a long one, that of things which really don’t matter.
But then if you live life in accordance to this principle of “We are insignificant.”, for you literally even revolutions, presidents, technologies and humans going to the moon won’t matter. Obviously, in theory, at least for human beings that won’t be a good way to live even if we live on Earth which is “one of 100 billion planets in our galaxy, which is just one of about two trillion galaxies.“
So, through this, I just wanted to remind many of you about how big the universe really is and literally 99.9% of things—even in a life not in accordance to the unsound principle—don’t matter. And that simultaneously, even the most famous or the richest or the most powerful man in the world is everything and nothing.
But still, things do matter and even though we can’t make a universal impact, we can make a local, state, national or even an international worldly (or Earthly) impact. And as more and more people start making these impacts, I’m sure we’ll be getting closer, as a species, to making a universal impact. For that though we need space exploration, which I can talk about the importance and significance for hours but it’s beyond what I had to say today.
I still think that the beginning of this principle sounds a little bit crazy, but it doesn’t matter anyway, does it?
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