“An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity”, observed Martin Luther King.

Sounds very ideological, right? Truth be told, it is not easy to rise about our individualistic concerns. Why? Because, in reality, our main concern is to care for the self first. But, here is the moment of truth – if we want to be successful, either in material or spirit, you must transcend our own petty little selves, and this is how you do it: by aligning your personal goal to the pressing needs of the society, you are more likely to be successful. Because, by pursuing your personal goal, you are automatically enriching the lives of others.

This approach will help you whether you have worthy ambitions such as starting your own business, or taking up a new profession or enrolling in a new college program or a person trying to beat the status quo.

This is where successful people rise above others. They will focus on their goals that are aligned with the greater good of the society. And when they make a lot of money, this is what they will do – they will use money to have a comfortable life and save for future; then they use surplus money to uplift the lives of those who are genuinely less privileged.

But this is easily said than done. They key to putting this into action lies in the broader understanding of our “needs”. As individuals who are part of a society, we have two needs; one is personal need and the other is social need. Both personal needs  and social are those that necessary for one’s survival – physical security and emotional wellbeing. Abraham Maslow observed that along with our basic needs such as food, clothing and shelter, we also need emotional support for the wellbeing. Our personal needs are met by caring for ourselves and our family. But as an integral part of society, each individual has a fundamental responsibility to fulfill the needs of our society as well. Most of the time, these two are simultaneously achieved, merely by being an active participant of the society organization we have crafted since the dawn of human civilization. One example of such individual participation in social frameworks is taxes; a percentage of our earnings go to fulfill social needs.

In the past, when were transitioning from a hunter-gatherer to settling down at river beds and cultivating farms, we developed a system of saving surplus and distributing the surplus to those who need. The surplus food cannot be stored beyond a point because it would perish. So we had to redistribute. But, after the invention of currency and trade, we gained power to store our “surplus” in the form of material possessions and currency. With time, we became a victim of our invention, the currency, and became indulged in this habit that we accumulated material wealth to a point that we became a prisoner of our own success. I am not suggesting that you become a minimalist by giving away your hard earned possessions, but realize their role in one’s wellbeing.

No one can teach you how to micromanage your own surplus possessions. The only way to find out yourself is go back to the roots of why money became the center of our universe. If you go back far enough, things will become clearer to you.