Do you know how badly our world needs people like you? people who are thinking about these problems? people who want to do something about it? I want to counteract your logic in that a life taken early is in anyway good for the world. If you are in a position to pursue an impactful career or donate money than you are able to help so many more people than if you were to end that life. Do you know how many people in our world aren’t paying attention to the problems of our world? Or intentionally choosing to ignore them? The fact that you care and want to help already puts you in a different space—one where you can begin to work toward doing the most good.
EA, in the early stages at least, seems to be a bit like a hammer—it’s a new tool in your kit but then the world starts to look like it’s filled with nails. Instead of creating nails that didn’t exist, try researching and finding the ones that already do and work toward addressing those problems first. You don’t need to make “grand gestures”, just start small and level up as you learn more.
You have a unique opportunity—you know you’ll have money coming in which means you can plan for how to use it now and maximize its impact. You seem to be stuck on a very extremist view of spend it all or donate it all but I’d like to offer up some more suggestions—you can:
downsize and use it as runway while you do a career change or get a relevant degree
invest in EA projects or organizations
start your own project or build a business that can generate even more money to donate toward EA causes
start a small fund and invest in the EA community by sponsoring trips to the EA global events for first-timers
save it and continue learning more about EA—great ideas are out there, you just have to look!
As for your perception that being depressed is the most effective way to motivate yourself to do good—anything sounds logical when you are trying to rationalize and justify your feelings of unworthiness. Being depressed closes you off from the world—you are less likely to engage with others, pursue new opportunities or challenges, your creativity diminishes and a whole host of other issues crop up with depression. Therefore, it’s not a good mindset to start from—if you can’t help yourself, how can you help others?
If we’re trying to take on big problems affecting the world we have to keep a positive mindset around the intent of trying to do good and acknowledge these are deeply complex, time-consuming challenges. It’s important to step away and renew your wellness and happiness, in order to come back with positive energy and an open-mind—growth-oriented minds are more creative and complex problems necessitate innovative solutions.
I recently heard a great parable that people, particularly those who care deeply about helping others, tend to be like vases and water is flowing in and they feel inclined to tip over and let the water spill out to others here and there—but over time they tip over so far they fall and shatter. Whereas if you just stand tall and let the water fill you up, it will eventually overflow and spill out to all those around you.
The point is that you must first and foremost get your own life in order, take care of yourself and when you are in a stable state—go for it! the world benefits more from people who are comfortable and confident in choosing to pursue impact and change… those paralyzed with anxieties because they are feeling like everything in their life is a trade-off, tend to spend more time worrying than participating and helping. Happiness, wellness and a state of peace are contagious. Lead by example.