Avid fans of Dwight Schrute and "The Office" had the opportunity to congregate in Miami University's Hall Auditorium on March 11 to attend a lecture by Rainn Wilson. I was one of these lucky fans. While most in attendance came to enjoy Rainn's presence, the common intent was to listen to a thought-provoking lecture titled "Chew On Life's Big Questions." Without a second thought, Wilson inserted what we could all expect from the ex-"Office" actor, following up that sentence with a "that's what she said." Other than his anecdotal insertions throughout his lecture, Wilson entertained the idea of the big questions life offers.
Wilson gained much of his inspiration from his faith, although in a different way than you would expect. Bahá'i faith, founded in 1863, conceives all religions connected under one entity. It focuses on ruminating the questions of the universe and existence rather than seeking answers. While Wilson grew up with the Bahá'i faith, it wasn't important for the majority of his life. After he went on his spiritual journey, he returned to it. He recognized the Bahá'i faith as spurring the majority of his life's big questions. The more he toyed with them, the more he began to discover.
To explain one of his main points, Wilson ran an experiment with the audience. He first started off by telling everyone in attendance to "get on your phone for one minute, check all your social media: Instagram, Snapchat, email, and the news." After the one minute was up, he revisited the experiment. This time, Wilson told the audience to converse with a complete stranger for one minute. When Wilson concluded the experiment, he asked how we all felt brought to life, out of our comfort zone. He proved in this experiment that energy explodes when conversing with new individuals.
After running through real-life simulations with the audience, he proved one of his main points: that the more human interaction we have, the happier beings we are. One of the key ways to fill ourselves with joy is to interact with others that we know nothing about. He led this point into what studies also have proven, that the more we appreciate others, the more our happiness increases. Wilson told the audience to spend less time on self-care and spend more on the care of others.
One of his favorite quotes, coined by David Thurman, is, "Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive." Wilson describes this as fostering our own happiness, our sense of meaning, our sense of belonging and purpose in this world. He challenged everyone in the audience to work on showing gratitude and be rebellious. He explained that "[our] real act of rebellion is to be joyful and to bring joy to others."
On Wilson's spiritual journey, he stole knowledge from everywhere that he could. Whether through books, people, or other means, he discovered more about life's big questions and his own spiritual soundness. In the end, he recommended to all of us that we go on a spiritual journey ourselves. We are all in our golden years in which we should venture down new paths. After all, the journey of the spirit is where we spend the least of our time.