You Don’t Have to Change the World – And That’s Okay | The BridgeMaker

You Don’t Have to Change the World – And That’s Okay

By on May 20, 2014

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Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you. – Dr. Seuss

Graduation season is here. Over the next few weeks, students will hear inspiring speeches from accomplished, well-meaning people. Last Friday, I heard an encouraging commencement address at my daughter’s hooding ceremony.

The speaker provided hope and gave recognition for the work the students had completed. The speech also motivated me to do some self-reflection and to measure my life against what I thought it was going to be like when I was an eager 21 year old. My conclusion: Not bad – not bad at all. I haven’t changed the world – and that’s okay.

Not So Politically Correct

I doubt that I’ll ever be invited to give a commencement speech, but if given the opportunity, I think I would share the amazing truths I’ve learned over the last 30 years.

My speech might not be considered politically correct as far as what the students should hear, but at least it would come from the heart and be filled with honesty. I think my speech would go something like…

As you welcome the life that is waiting, I hope you continue to nourish the dreams that live inside of you. And if your dreams don’t contemplate the need to change the world, please know your dreams still have value and are worthy of the pursuit.

You don’t have to change the world – and that’s okay.

Maybe your dream is to continue your education. Or it’s to start a career and contribute your best work to the profession you love. Your dream might be to share your passion every day. All of these are wonderfully noble dreams.

You don’t have to change the world – and that’s okay.

There will most likely come a day when you meet someone with whom you share a heart connection. Commitment follows and a new family will be created. So, now your dreams may shift. Your partner and children become your focus. Your dream becomes to care for them the best way you can. Your world is them – and that’s okay.

It’s not selfish if you don’t want to change the world. If your dream is to be happy, that’s enough because through your pursuit of happiness, good things will happen.

You will encounter kindness and you will be kindness. You will lift others up so they can find happiness, too. You will be thoughtful, mindful and intentional to do things that nourish and not destroy. You will use your love to cherish the best things life has to offer.

Leaving here today, there’s just one thing for your life’s to-do list. It’s not to change the world; it’s simpler than that. It’s this: Find a way to be happy.

If you do that, the world will naturally take a slight pivot in the right direction.


I’m blessed to have a meaningful career and blog, but it won’t be those things I think about on my last day. Instead, I will think about the happiness I claimed.

I will think about Mary Beth, Brandon, Caitlin, Andrew and Emily and how I hope I made their worlds a little better. I will know that I gave them everything I had, even though it didn’t necessarily change the world.

And you know what?

That’s okay.

The BridgeMaker Founder Alex Blackwell is the author of Letting Go: 25 True Stories of Peace, Hope and Surrender. Join the community to connect, share and inspire: Twitter | Facebook | More Posts

  • You don’t have to change the world…and yet we all do to some extent. Maybe not like a Steve Jobs or George Bush, but we do.

    That being said it’s a refreshing perspective. I often feel like I must change the world to validate myself.

  • I like your slant on changing the world. The best thing most people do to make an impact is make sure they are living a vibrant happy life. If everyone were living that way imagine how that would affect the world.

    • Absolutely true Lovelyn. Thank you for sharing your perspective.

  • I’m one of those people who thinks “I need to change the world!”. But there’s also a part of me who wonders whether that’s truly a worthwhile goal. After all, I have very little control over the outcomes of my efforts and there are often negative, unintended consequences to even the most well-intentioned efforts to change the world.

    I still think it’s a worthwhile goal. But I like Gandhi’s advice “In a gentle way, you can shake the world”. That reminds me that I should proceed cautiously with my efforts.

    • Ed,

      I think you and I are aligned with the same approach. As I write above, “If you do that, the world will naturally take a slight pivot in the right direction.”

      Our actions, for better or worse, can make an lasting impact!

      Thanks for reading and sharing,


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