Professor H. L. Bray       
                Lorna Jean Bray (1939-2023)      

"Enjoy making the world a better place, in every possible way, no matter how small, as best you can."

is the mission statement that I try to live my life by. It is an axiomatic command to oneself, not advice: you must make the world a better place, and you must have a good attitude about it. In my experience, this approach is also a major key to long term happiness as contributing to the world, to whatever extent we can, is extremely fulfulling. I've taught this mission statement to my children, who can recite it upon request, and I recommend it to everyone, including my students when we get into deep conversations outside of class. Over the years, my mission statement has changed as I have changed, and I fully expect it to continue to improve. In fact, if you have an idea how to make my mission statement better, please share your ideas with me!

To be clear, the above statement is really just a framework, since what "a better place" means is complicated, and will probably vary from person to person. The idea that virtue is simple is at odds with my life experience. The world is increasingly complicated, and making the world even better is becoming increasingly complicated as well. For now, I'll point out that "the world" is clearly much larger than oneself, and certainly includes family, friends, colleagues, the community, etc. - all the way up to the literal world. On the other hand, our ability to impact the entire world is much more limited compared to our impact on those around us, which is yet smaller than the influence we have on our own lives. Hence, my advice for young people is to develop yourself first, so that as you get older you can maximize your net contribution to the world. There are hundreds of different paths a person could take, all necessary for the greater good. You get to decide how you think you can make your greatest net contribution to the world which, as others have said, will be the adventure of your life. Good luck!