Girish Joshi

How to Feel Significant?

4 min read

You must have heard of Butterfly Effect.

Let me introduce it to you anyway. A butterfly flapping its wings in the north can cause a cyclone in the south. That’s the most non-technical introduction to Chaos Theory, but how does that make you feel significant?


All the world is the same but with just one minor change. Without you. A world without you. Try to imagine how different it would be.

Yes, my pessimist friend. It looks all the same to you. And it is, in a way, but it isn’t. If you have already seen the movie It’s a Wonderful Life then I rest my case already. You are free to leave. The movie is wonderful enough to make you feel significant. But if you haven’t watched it, then hear me out.

What is life? A recollection of all the stories lived. I believe. That is why the best of them have been preserved in books. Some people call them biographies. The act which we associate with the rich and famous. But honestly, we all have great stories. Our best conversations are based on that. Our best speeches are based on that. Our best memories are based on that. And when we are telling our best stories, with laughter and drinks to the company we love, of our heroism, we feel significant.

Now people may be tempted to assign the highest significance to the hero but in reality, it is the narrator who remains disguised. For he is the one who made the acts of the hero truly heroic by providing the much-needed perspective and context. A narrator has the power to turn a story of despair into a story of hope. So the first lesson on feeling significant is to narrate your stories well and often.

Only when you start to narrate your stories do you realize that you’ve lived a life that’s meaningful. Because now you know, if you were not there, these stories would never have unfolded, and things that you have done would never have been done.

And in these moments you realize that feeling significant is more about the impact you have on others than yourself. The impact you don’t often realize you’ve made. There is an entire section in the library called Self-Help, but it’s very hard to find books that teach you to Help-Others. Probably the laws of publisher’s economics explain this. No Readers, No Books. Personally, I’ve felt most significant not when I achieved a seemingly impossible milestone but when a friend said to me that it’s because of you that I’ve achieved this seemingly impossible milestone. In those moments, I feel significant, I feel larger than life. So the second lesson on feeling significant is to help others.

But. To help others or to be able to tell your stories you must have what it takes. Now some people call it passion, some call it the drive, some disdain from talking about it, some doubt if such things exist. I prefer to side with Victor Frankl and call it the meaning. If you have read the book Man’s Search for Meaning you’d know what I’m going to talk about. Life is not primarily a quest for pleasure or a quest for power, but a quest for meaning. He who has a Why to live can bear almost any How. True as it may sound. Now, where do people find this meaning, usually not at bars (that was me trying to be funny)?

  • In Work
  • In Love
  • In Courage during difficult times.

Now I can go on elaborating on these points and trust me that’s my favourite part but I’ll take the liberty to assume that my point is self-evident (Yay. Saved some effort). So the last and most important lesson on feeling significant is to have a meaning.

A world without you would have been dull. All those stories would never have been lived. All those people will still be helpless. And a meaningful life would never have been lived. A world without that butterfly will have one less cyclone. What will this world miss out without you? Feeling significant yet?

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