“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” The popular quote often contributed to Gandhi challenges us to act in the way we want others to act, and to be the way we want others to be. Personal and social transformation go hand-in-hand. This is sound and true advice any day, but it’s especially helpful right now, as our world has been changing a lot.
The World is Changing – Do We Change with It?
Our entire planet is facing the biggest challenge we’ve ever seen in our lifetimes: a global pandemic.
Lives have changed in big and small ways. We have had to start doing school and many jobs virtually. We’ve had to start wearing masks out in public. Many people are ordering groceries and other essentials delivered to their homes more than ever before. These are just some of the ways that our daily lives have been impacted by this change.
While some things have started to go back to “normal”, or at least the new normal for us, one thing rings true. We have had to come together as a society now more than ever before. We’ve had to look out for ourselves and each other in new ways. We have had to trust our fellow neighbors and community members to do what is best for their health and for ours. Furthermore, we’ve had to make decisions for the greater good about topics like masking or vaccinations.
Growing Into Something Better
Ed and Deb Shapiro said, ” It is in those very moments when everything looks hopeless that we have a real chance to grow into something better: what the caterpillar calls the end of the world, we call a butterfly!” (The Unexpected Power of Mindfulness and Meditation)
This is not to make light of the struggle that so many are going through right now, nor is it to be callous about the deaths this pandemic has caused. But it does mean that this is as much a time as any to start thinking about what kind of person you want to be with the time you have left on this earth. It’s an opportunity to find our own place in the world, and carve out the values we hold dear. And it’s the chance to show up how you want to be seen.
What Does it Mean to Be the Change?
To be the change means to take actionable steps to make a difference in your world. This could be within your household, your family, your friend circle, your community, your workplace, or even your state and country. This can include actions big and small that show that you stand behind your beliefs and you are willing to do more than talk. You are willing to walk the walk as well.
Being the change might mean standing up and becoming a leader for a cause that you hold near and dear. It could be an opportunity to speak up for someone who is being bullied or discriminated against. It might mean starting or signing petitions calling for social change.
Sometimes when there are things we don’t like about the world, our communities, our social circles, or even our families, we feel out of control to change it. There are times where it can feel like you are a victim of circumstances more than an active participant in things. Feeling out of control can lead to anxiety, depression, and just general frustration with things. But the truth is, we are not powerless. Even one individual can have a BIG impact on the world around them.
What Can YOU Do?
What can you do when it feels like it’s all out of control? You turn to the one thing you can control: yourself.
Your thoughts, your actions, and your emotions are things that you get to choose; you get to control.
You can choose to feed into fear and panic, or you can choose to step into the light and find peace and comfort.
And this is no easy feat, especially in times like this. There will be times you need to cry, and that’s okay. There may be times you feel angry, and that’s okay. Allow whatever emotions come to flow, but don’t get stuck in them. Feel them and then when you’re ready, move through them.
Be Aware of What You Give Your Energy To
This is good advice always, but especially now. Checking the news is okay. Scrolling Facebook to check in with your friends? Fine.
Unless these things are causing you stress and negative energy. If you find yourself getting sucked into Facebook arguments, or feeling cranky, irritable and sad after watching too much news, then you are allowing these things to impact your energy.
This doesn’t mean you have to completely ignore the goings-on of the world. But only YOU can decide how much is too much for you.
When someone or something triggers you (makes you upset, angry, sad, or want to lash out in any way), rather than taking action, stop and think on it a bit. Think about what you’re feeling and why. What has this person or this situation triggered in you?
What is it showing you that you need to heal or let go of? Rather than lash out, look within. Heal yourself.
How to Be the Change
Practice turning your negative thoughts into positive action. Here are some examples:
“I wish people would stop being so mean to one another!” >>> Take action to show kindness to more people every day.
“___ is always judging everyone! >>> Look for how you judge others in your life and make it a practice to stop.
“People sit behind their keyboard and complain but they do nothing to help!” >>> Look for ways you can contribute to the current situation yourself.
See how that works? We can’t control what the world outside of us does or thinks, but we control how we respond to it and we can also choose to put our own bright light out into the world.
When people around you see you shine, it motivates them to shine their light as well. And this is how we can change the world – through being the example, through being part of the solution, and through being the change you wish to see.
Stay safe, my friends. Look after one another, and spread the love. The world can do with a bit more of it right now. We’ll get through all of this together.