Ashton Kutcher: “Build a Life, Don’t Live One, Build One”

At this years Teen Choice Awards, Ashton Kutcher decided to get real with teenagers, and in a way that most of Hollywood as been avoiding for sometime now. In just four minutes, he preaches of humility, integrity, and the power of an imagination to an audience of youthful admirers hanging on to his every word.

What resonated with me the most, however, wasn’t Kutcher’s first point about working hard when opportunities present themselves, and it wasn’t when he redefined sexy as being something of the mind and not the body.  It was at the end of his acceptance speech that spoke to me, when he gave the audience one of the most valuable gifts: the power to believe in their own potential, to envision the world they want to live in, and then make it a reality.

“Steve Jobs said when you grow up,” says Kutcher,” you tend to get told that the world is the way that it is. And your life is to live your life inside the world, and try not to get in too much trouble, and maybe get an education, get a job and make some money and have a family. But life can be a lot broader than that when you realize one simple thing. And that is that everything around us, that we call life, was made up by people that are no smarter than you. And you can build your own things, you can build your own life that other people can live in. So build a life–don’t live one–build one.”

I’m not a teenager, but that doesn’t mean this speech didn’t give me chills or feel just as relevant to my own life. When you look outside and see everything that is happening in the world today, it’s impossible to not feel powerless. I’m that guy that acknowledges the negative things around me, and then just willfully accepts those as my only options. I can imagine my mindset not being much different from so many others who have also internalized feelings of helplessness after various setbacks, and so they aim low–not because they don’t want to work hard, but they just don’t want another disappointment weighing down on their souls.

We live in a world where the norm is to think small–to be pragmatic–because just because we want something to happen, that doesn’t mean it will. So, for me, it’s always refreshing seeing someone who is happy living the life they want to live, and then telling us we can do the same.

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