John-Paul Flintoff

If you say you want to "change the world"...

Kofi Annan talking to Chris Martin at Live Aid

People might think you are a bit odd. A bit messianic. Who do you think you are, they might ask – Gandhi? Chris Martin (the Coldplay singer, pictured here with the then-UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, at Live Aid)?

But even if we don’t say we “want to change the world”, we all wish that things could be different.

Every day, we notice aspects of the world around us that just seem wrong. Sometimes we lie in bed at night worrying about it. Alternatively, in sunnier moments, we allow ourselves to dream, conjuring parallel worlds that seem entirely delightful.

But whatever our disposition, we often conclude that to change the world would be hard work, if not impossible. And so we don’t even try.

That’s a shame, because actively creating change brings benefits for us, individually, too. We discover deeper reserves of empathy, opportunities to be creative, and we can cultivate a habit of fearlessness. Better still, it turns out that changing the world produces a deep, lasting sense of satisfaction – not only when we’ve “finished” (as if that were possible) but at each step along the way.

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