Every human being usually lives in his own world. We all are the center of our worlds and it’s easy to get lost in such a world and assume that the world really does revolve around you. But in reality we are just one individual of one species of life on one planet in a lonely little corner of the universe. There are certain facts that make our insignificance in the grand scheme of things pretty obvious. It is quite an overwhelming experience to think about these facts and realize what they imply about us and our life. Here are the top 10 realizations that make you feel insignificant.
One small thing that does make us feel a little insignificant sometimes is the success of others. When you read a biography of men such as Steve Jobs or Albert Einstein or any other great man of our times, it forces you to consider your life and how much you are contributing to humanity. When you realize how little your contribution is, it makes you feel insignificant. You realize that if you were to die tomorrow not a lot of people will be affected if at all.
There are 7,106, 967,290 humans on earth at the time of writing this article. That’s 7.1 billion people. You are just one of these 7.1 billion people. There are about 4 births happening every second in the world! If you want to feel overwhelmed and insignificant click on the link provided below and see how fast the population is growing.
We tend to believe that mythology is all made up stories and there is no truth to it. The religious people of course believe that it all is true and that it all happened at one time or the other. But even if you don’t believe that mythological stories are true, they can still be a little overwhelming if you think about the deeds of Gods and men of those times. Myths and legends can sometimes make us feel insignificant about the small lives we live today.
If mythology doesn’t do it for you then history can. Even though a lot of history is also theory based on evidence, we modern scientific rational humans tend to believe that it was all true. And when we read about the lives some of these men lived it can make you feel insignificant. Imagine living as a gladiator or a knight fighting the crusades or as a cave man, struggling to survive on a daily basis and you’ll know what I mean.
If you’ve ever traveled on a ship you’ll know the feeling of insignificance that comes from being all alone out at sea. Once you lose sight of land and all around you there is nothing but water, there are no other ships, no animals and no birds, it can be very overwhelming. You suddenly realize the ratio of your size to the size of the earth and it can make you realize how insignificant you really are.
We tend to think that humans are the pinnacle of evolution. While that is true in a way there are many other species that are much more abundant and better suited for survival than us. The fact is that as a species we are very vulnerable despite of all the progress we’ve made. (Maybe because of the progress we’ve made.) Insects, algae, bacteria etc. are all much better suited to survival than us. In fact there are more bacteria on earth than stars in the whole observable universe! In our own bodies there are more living bacteria than our own cells! Think about that.
Another thing about life is its diversity. We are just one tiny little branch in the tree of life. There are single celled organisms that have been living on earth ever since life began and will probably go on living long after we are gone. There are animals in deep oceans that can live without any sunlight at all. We don’t even know how many species of life there are on the planet and we keep discovering new species all the time. Life even survives deep inside caves where the air has no oxygen and no sunlight ever enters. This is just another overwhelming fact about our own insignificance.
Nothing makes us feel insignificant more often than the power of nature. In our ignorance and arrogance we sometimes think that we’ve become the masters of nature but when it strikes all our technology and intelligence is reduced to nothing. Whether it be a flood, tsunami, volcano, tornado, earthquake, snow storms, forest fires or hurricane, nature keeps reminding us time and again that it still is the boss.
One fact that can make you feel really insignificant is the age of the universe. Now just saying that the universe is 13.7 billion years old is not enough. To make things clear let’s assume that 1 billion years equal just one year. So the age of the universe is 13.7 years. Out of these 13.7 years, earth was formed only 1 year ago. Life started only 6 months ago and all of human history happened only in the last 6 seconds. In the time scale of the universe humans have existed for just 6 seconds. And our individual life is not even a blink of the universal eye.
Pale blue dot is the most famous picture of our planet as it is the most distant picture taken by the Voyager probe from the outskirts of our solar system. In that picture our planet earth is just one little pixel of blue light and that is just from the edge of our solar system. Our solar system is part of the Milky Way galaxy which contains billions of stars and out galaxy is just part of millions of galaxies in the universe. That is the overwhelming size of the observable universe. What’s beyond that we don’t know because we haven’t observed it. This huge size of the universe can definitely make us puny humans feel insignificant.