Realizing Purpose: How Gustaf Palm’s Journey Led Him To Better World Ed

reweave the fabric of our communities together for a better world

Dive into Gustaf Palm‘s learning journey. Learn more about his college experiences at Northeastern University, his life experiences, how he found Better World Ed, and the evolutions of his mindset and heartset throughout the journey.


Know a young person who is figuring out how to make an impact in the world? Who is eager to be part of making change in the world, and isn’t yet sure how? This is the post to share with that human right about now.


Articles, BeWE Learning Journey







Approach, Community, Compassion, Empathy, Mission, Purpose, Reweave, SEL, Social Emotional Learning, Vision








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Realizing Purpose: How Gustaf Palm’s Journey Led Him To Better World Ed


My first few years pursuing an undergraduate degree were wonderful in that I learned a lot about what I didn’t want to do with my life. Northeastern University has a co-op program in which students work full time for six-month long periods; my first was in accounting at a large corporate firm, and second at a small tech-focused VC. For most of my life I always struggled with the idea of success, and like many others thought it was something either attainable through financial security or the freedom accompanied by it.



I remember sitting in my accounting classes feeling bored out of my mind but trying to convince myself, “this will be useful when I have my own huge and successful business one day”. Like many of my classmates, I was following a narrative of success that is unsustainable, unrealistic, and misguided.


For a long time I was under the impression that if nothing was directly wrong in my life — being sick, having a stressful event coming up, receiving bad news — then I should by default feel largely happy and fulfilled. I paid little attention to concepts like cultivating gratitude or even exploring personal growth outside of my ‘profile as a professional’.



Introspection outside of my ego was unexplored territory and thinking about human systems outside of what was directly relevant to me was something I invested little time into. I was confused by the prospect of following the “traditional” human life path and wondered to myself how I ended up being the person I was. 




I asked myself: if the point of pursuing financial success was to find happiness in freedom, but by pursuing this I feel neither free nor happy, then when are things really going to change? After all, freedom is not achieved by satisfying one’s desire, but by eliminating it.




Then in the midst of the pandemic, I had a lot of time to sit and be in my own mental space during the quarantine… I started reading much more (as a child I “hated” reading) and learned about the depth of knowledge that lives outside of conventional entertainment (e.g. streaming platforms).



I looked more closely at the cracks that were forming in our collective human establishment, and I realized how little I had done to at least try and steer us in the opposite direction. I had been too busy pursuing external sources of happiness to really observe myself and my surroundings. Inspired by the ideas presented in organizations like ‘The Creative Independent’ and learning about tips for lifelong meditation – my world began to change.



With the pandemic still lurking in the background, I started my senior year of college and began the search for my third and final co-op. During this search I focused on finding something that I believed was critically in need of development and that moves us collectively in the “right direction”. That’s when I saw a post about Better World Ed (BeWE), and first got in touch with Abhi.



Like many I believed education was overdue for an overhaul. I completed the IGCSE and IB programs growing up, and despite memorizing several facts, I had learned very little about how to navigate the human experience in a balanced and harmonious way.



Despite being interested in education I had no previous experience working in the field, so learning about Global Social Emotional Learning (SEL) and how and why it works prompted a significant personal paradigm shift. I got to watch a video in which young kids spoke about empathy, compassion and culture with a depth and clarity that I didn’t realize was possible for humans of that age.



As a young child I remember seeing words like “teamwork”, “friendship”, and “open-mindedness” on the wall of my 4th grade classroom, but received little to no guidance as to the depth and importance of those concepts to a healthy adolescence and adult life. This kickstarted an exploration into the realms of SEL education and modes of learning that deviate from the traditional method that I went through.  





One thing that makes Better World Ed so unique is that SEL is not sidelined into its own genre or silo — it’s integrated completely with core subjects like math and literacy. This encourages an intrinsic motivation for Social Emotional Learning (SEL), and it helps you(th) deeply feel empathy, collaboration, and harmony as vital tools involved in everything we do and learn in life, rather than just “a side skill” to squeeze into our education journey occasionally.



Sound too good to be true? Here’s an example. In Better World Ed’s story about Taniya, a young yoga enthusiast from Bawana, India, students explore the cultivation of confidence and engage in both open discussions and math lessons about fractions and percentages that relate to Taniya’s story.



This ability — connected with the wordless videos — proposes a whole new kind of education, one in which human narrative stories are used to ignite curiosity, connection and compassion within children who are being taught how to feel instead of what to think.



This is metacognition on a new scale: a platform that doesn’t only provide children new knowledge, but also adds to their wisdom of how to approach learning and the handling of new information in the first place. This is the education on cross-cultural understanding and compassionate civil engagement I wish I had received in my most formative years as a child.



Another lesson I really love that Better World Ed has structured communication and wisdom around is the idea of living with Ubuntu: the concept that ‘I am a person through other people’, and how we are all interconnected while still having individually unique circumstances.



The BeWE team shares in an article that “the point of realizing this deep interconnection is for us to remember the change we seek is not about saving one another… what we badly need to work on together is the whole iceberg. The deep purpose of the Better World Ed curriculum is about each of our whole icebergs. Learning to see one another (and ourselves) as full, complex, unique, and beautiful humans. Not statistics to save or change or help. To see one another as humans, with all of the complexity and magic that brings.” 



The lesson discussed several thoughts about human compassion and understanding that I had been circling for a while, and summarized those thoughts in a succinct and powerful way; this was one of the first things that truly made me realize how genuine Better Wold Ed’s message and raison d’etre sincerely is.



This is a message that some have devoted their entire lives to understanding, while many others seem to have never even been exposed to — even as adults, let alone as youth. It inspires hope for whoever reads it, and it reminds me that despite the inequities and injustices of the world today, there are many who are working towards reweaving a better world for tomorrow. 



In my journey learning about Better World Ed, education and healthy living I have gained optimism for the hearts and minds of the future generations to come. A moment that made me really feel that the work being done here is something completely unlike I have seen before was when I was first reading about Better World Ed’s pricing journey.



In my experiences learning about financing and fundraising, altruism had never been such a central focus in the entrepreneurial process. Growing a new organization and community doesn’t need to be all hustle and muscle, it can be nourished with camaraderie and reciprocity. As I continue to learn, I continue to revisit and reevaluate some perceptions that previously had been personally preventative for growth (e.g. I’m on a learning binge right now about breathing, and reflecting on the previously unnecessary interactions I’ve had with healthcare/pharmacy that could have been avoided through proper breath education). 



Learning to think outside the narrative I previously embodied, expanding my perspective to find meaning and success in the things I already had and the things that felt more accessible — peace of mind, a healthy body, love of those around me — broke down the motivation I had for a lot of the things I previously thought I wanted. I’m grateful for the journey Better World Ed has been and continues to take me on, and I’m grateful to share with you the details of my path getting here. 




Realizing Purpose: How Gustaf Palm’s Journey Led Him To Better World Ed


Additional resources as we reweave community:



  • Teaching Unit (Resources for teaching with empathy, curiosity, and compassion)




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