What would the world be like if...

What would the world be like if...

There's a little thought exercise I like to do from time to time.

Anyone can do it, and it may provide instant insight or leave you ruminating for hours

All you have to do is answer the question:

What would the world be like if everyone was like me?

That's it. Just answer that question as honestly as you can.

You'll probably find that it makes you feel a little uncomfortable, but that it also makes you think about your own behavior in a way you haven't really done before.

When I answer this question myself I imagine a pretty grim world, though lets look at the positives first.

It would be a healthier world where everyone exercises daily and eats a lot of healthy whole foods. Excessive consumption would be avoided and materialism would be less of a thing.

Everyone would listen to heavy metal and drive a little too fast. The whole world would be educated and dance music probably wouldn't exist... Actually maybe just The Prodigy.

Sport probably wouldn't exist either... I like to keep fit but I'm not competitive at all and have no real interest in keeping up with the world of sport.

Everyone on public transport would be a lot more respectful and conscious of others, which is something anyone who has read this blog before will know is of inexplicable importance to me.

But that’s the easy, more superficial stuff. What if we go a little deeper?

The world would also be an anxious place where no one is particularly happy or fulfilled.

I think there would be a lot of cynicism and that negativity would outweigh positivity.

I think about people that volunteer to help those less fortunate than themselves and how I just don’t do that.

In this world of me's there would be no shortage of people willing to give money and talk about how terrible the plight of others is, but they wouldn’t be queuing up to help the elderly, disabled or those generally in need.

I think about nurses and care workers and how I can't imagine myself doing what they do.

I think about how I wouldn't want to live in that world.

What does it all mean?

We often look at other people and wish they were more like us. That they would behave in a way that aligns with our own individual moral codes (I discuss this idea more here and here).

However the more I do this thought experiment the greater the importance I begin place on individuality and diversity.

I can't imagine that there is a single person on this Earth that could be used as a template to create a perfect society of clones.

At the extreme ends you would end up with a world full of people that are so nice and meek that no progress is ever made, or people that that are so ambitious and aggressive that society would end up in a constant state of war.

In the middle of the spectrum you get people that are well rounded, but but overall lacking in traits required to make societal leaps (though this is probably more true for early society than it is right now).

A stable and healthy society needs both. It needs ambitious aggressive people that constantly push forward, and it needs caring and compassionate people to keep the others in check. It also needs everyone in between.

I reckon the same can be said of relationships. Couples that live long happy lives together probably balance each other out, meaning their best traits are allowed to flourish but their worst traits are balanced out by their partner.

In my mind it is no coincidence that all major religions and spiritual practices talk about balance.

Anyway, that's enough about me... What would the world be like if everyone in it was like you?

The world wide web

The world wide web

Hands free

Hands free