Taking the time to reflect on who we are

Whatever your religious beliefs (or otherwise), you have to admit that life is an astonishing thing, especially when considered on the microscopic scale. Every living thing on this planet is made up of trillions of minute particles, far, far smaller than atoms, called quarks. These all whizz around each other, attracted by the nuclear weak and strong forces and the pull of gravity and magnetism, in such a way that, as well as rocks, minerals, and elements, they form living, breathing, and procreating beings.

And as far as we know, this planet could well be unique in the universe, in which there are more than a hundred billion galaxies, each of which (moving up to a macroscopic scale) contains over a hundred billion stars, many of which have planets. The universe is simply huge and we and everything around us are absolutely miniscule in comparison. Yet there is this one amazing thing that makes our planet stand out, and that’s the fact that it’s teeming with life. And all human beings are organic wholes comprising billions (perhaps trillions) of constituent parts that make up our bodies and minds. When you consider this it’s truly incredible.

We have the most advanced optical system built into our eyes, computer technology in our brains are far superior to the large and clunky devices we have so far been able to build ourselves, our bodies can turn even the smallest amounts of food into large amounts of energy to keep us going, and we have an interconnected set of internal organs that work together to help us grow, keep us fit, and allow us to reproduce perfect (yet different) copies of ourselves.

What’s more, we even have billions of living things dwelling in side us working together symbiotically. In our stomach there are many different types of bacteria that help to digest our food, and every single cell in our body possesses mitochondria, factories that produce energy for our cells, that are themselves very ancient bacteria and which still contain their own DNA and replication machinery.

Even our white blood cells are millions of determined individuals that patrol our blood, seeking out and destroying contaminants for the good of us as a whole. And in the way that all these things within us come together to make us, we who too often consider ourselves as individuals, are really all members of a larger organism known as mankind.

In turn mankind is a member of the group of life, which is a member of the universe, which scientists tell us was created with a big bang, resulting in galaxies containing numerous stars, many of which expired billions of years ago, and that our solar system and everything in it comprises elements forged inside these expired stars, and perhaps more than one such star.

Now I don’t want to get into a debate on creationism and evolution (etc) because how we got here is not so important as the fact that we are alive and existing right this minute. Whether it was God or the big bang (which could still be God) is not the issue when contemplating the vastness of the universe, and then comparing that with just how small we and the minute things that comprise us (and all there is).

And yet, tiny as we may be, we have something amazing – we are conscious. Being aware of our own existence we are able to think. We are curious about our surroundings and how we got here. We want to know why we are here and whether we have a purpose. We readily understand the concept of God, and billions of us are members of one or other religion. Why? Because we innately realise that the world we live in and life itself is a really big deal, and religion helps many of us receive answers to the questions that fill our minds.

But more than this, out of our consciousness comes something non-physical, something you can’t pick up and hold in your hand, or measure with a meter. It’s called love. And not only humans love – you simply need to watch animals caring for their young to understand that. So it’s something inherent to life. In fact all emotions are non-tangible. They are beyond the realm of physicists, who can explain which parts of a brain seem to do what, but not how this results in feelings and emotions.

And these least tangible of all things, these thoughts, feelings and emotions, are the most important things there are. We thrive on companionship and communication. We need to feel loved and needed. And we want to give our love to other people (and animals too). This is why the richest people in the world have nothing of real value if they don’t possess these things. Oh yes, such people can change the world, have people at their beck and call, and can physically manipulate our lives. They may have power, but that doesn’t mean they have our respect, or our love.

Whether or not we have lots of money, our real wealth is (and has always been) who we are, and what we hold in our hearts. But sometimes we need to remind ourselves of this as we get caught up in the hum-drum, day-to-day world. We need to take a timeout and reflect on the true value of the things we have, what we do and, most of all, who we are.

For more about our need to reflect in order to be more fulfilled and achieve personal growth, check out my book Creative Visualization For Dummies.