This post was written by Leo Babauta, originally for Zen Habits. Republished here with permission.
To Those Who Are Struggling
On Twitter I met a struggling soul who shared a lack of friends, family, motivation, self-esteem and confidence. I feel for him because I know what it’s like to struggle, to feel down and even depressed, to have no motivation. I have suffered from confidence problems, many times. So I’m writing this for him, and to those who are struggling.
You are struggling, maybe even hurting. And that is really difficult. It can feel hopeless, lonely, confining.
These feelings are very real, and really hard. How do you climb out of this when you don’t have the motivation to change? How do you make friends who can help you if you don’t feel the self-esteem and confidence?
I am sorry you’re hurting and struggling. But know that even if you feel alone, you are not alone. I, for one, am connected to you because I’m thinking of you, all of you. I’m connected to you because I too have suffered in similar ways. We have shared pain, shared hopelessness, shared loneliness.
And it’s not just me: every single human being who is alive has felt this kind of pain, hopelessness, and loneliness at one time or another. We are all connected through this shared pain and struggle. We feel alone, and in this we are connected.
The feeling of being alone, separated from the rest of the world, is an illusion. Sure, it’s an illusion that feels very very real. But it’s not true.
Consider: you are supported by millions, even billions, of people. You are using electricity that is powered by an electric company, with thousands of employees working to give you that electricity. You drink water brought to you by yet more thousands of people. You eat food raised and harvested and brought to you by thousands of people. Brought to you on roads built and maintained by thousands of people, on vehicles (ships, trucks, cars, planes) built and run by thousands of people. You wear clothes, use gadgets, sit on furniture, all built and brought by thousands of people. And all those thousands and thousands of people are themselves supported similarly by thousands more.
You are supported by millions of people, and those millions are supported by millions. The entire world supports each other. We became the people we’ve become only because we’ve had that support, we’ve connected to share ideas, learn from each other, serve each other.
I believe this is a miracle. We each are supported by a miracle of connections to every other person on the planet. We feel alone, but it is only an illusion.
The way to rise from this struggle is to turn from your own pain to the pain of others. Who else around you is struggling? How can you offer them love? How can you help them, ease their pain in some way?
By turning outwards, toward the pain of others, we can fill our hearts with love for them, wanting nothing but happiness for them. Then, by this simple turning, we have hearts filled with love. I think that, too, is a miracle.
I can’t take away your pain, but I can offer you two miracles: the love that comes from turning toward other human beings, and the connection we have to everyone on Earth. I feel connected to you, and my heart is filled with love for you.