Opinion | You want to fix society? Fix yourself first

Remember all the hopes and dreams we had in our childhood? We were going to accomplish everything, save the world, restore kindness, and fix society. Now back to earth!

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Being an adult has certainly made us all more realistic albeit cynical. We’ve abandoned a lot of our previous lofty dreams. Yet, deep inside each one of us, nests a secret longing to heal the world and fix society- one that never really goes away. We protest, we riot, we take over social media activism and have nothing to show for it. That’s not surprising since we seem to have ignored one fundamental truth: In order to fix the world, we have to fix ourselves first.

When things go wrong, we collapse. We’re experts at playing the blame game, thinking of ourselves as victims and taking out our pent-up frustration on others. When we look at the problems currently plaguing our society, we do so with a dissociative lens. That’s quite understandable since none of us want to believe that the current state of society is our fault. Actually, it would be better if it were our fault. Because then, we would have full control over the situation and be able to do something to fix it as we do for events in our life.

We can’t win external battles till we manage to triumph over our internal demons. Fixing ourselves would make us more positive and force us to implement real solutions for most, if not all of society’s problems.

There’s no doubt that the world would be a much better place if each person tried to do their bit and fixed themselves. That’s how civilizations have always progressed- through innovation and improvement. There’s no reason why it shouldn’t be applicable here as well.

There’s no instant remedy for fixing ourselves. It takes a lot of time, sacrifices and hard work. Neither is there a concrete ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution, since different people have different things they need to fix, and this process is an ongoing one- continuing throughout an individual’s life.

But it always helps to start small; with yourself. The first step is to identify some of your flaws and write down what you can do to rectify them. You could do this by asking some close and trusted people about what they think you need to improve as well as the areas in which you’re naturally gifted. But just remember, nobody’s perfect. So don’t the process of fixing yourself as a justification to look down on the ones who aren’t on the same path.

A big part of fixing yourself is accountability and the ability to control your basal urges. In life, there are a lot of annoying situations and tugs of war. Being defensive and losing control never helped anybody. But deferred gratification definitely did. You can’t control how you feel, but you can definitely hold yourself accountable and control how you react. Making excuses is the easiest thing in the world. But getting things done and actually putting yourself through the grind isn’t. This is where discipline comes in. Motivations and desires change constantly. But habits take much longer (66 days). So make the discipline of evaluating and improving yourself a daily habit.

It also helps to seek out honest, moral people who inspire you to improve and become the best version of yourself. Such people will help you grow and join you in making the world a better place.

Now I’ll be the first to admit that this is a mammoth task one that requires a lot of fists clenching, tongue biting and being critical of our faults. But we owe to society and our future generations to do so. This is the one actionable solution that will really restore our world to its former glory.

When we fix ourselves, we unconsciously inspire others to do the same. We motivate our spouses, teach our children and our communities to fix themselves. And just like that, society and ultimately the world fixes itself. We don’t need a superhero to come and save our planet. It starts with you and me.

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