This is a quote from Mahatma Gandhi. It sounds good, but what does it mean? How do I “do this?” I’ll give you my take on what this means, how to implement it, and how it will benefit your life and the whole world. The Whole World? Really? Sounds dramatic doesn’t it. Well it is true! I’ve experienced it helping me and the people in my life. The key is to stay focused on it, and it will help you too!
How to “Be the Change You Want to See”
To explain this, let’s take an example. Let’s say you are married and you wish that your spouse would be more __________(fill in the blank). (Loving, patient, affectionate, non-judging, tidy, etc) Whatever that quality is that you wish for, that is what you should now focus on being more of yourself.
Sometimes we don’t realize that we are just as “guilty” of the grievance we have as are the people we have the grievance against. Let’s take another example, and after that we will address any skepticism you may have about this being an effective strategy.
Catching or Dissolving Anger?
For our next example, let’s say that you get upset by angry drivers. When other drivers beep their horns, swear, and gesture angrily at you, how does that make you feel? Perhaps angry, frustrated, and upset? How do we usually react? Most of us respond in kind with cursing the other driver and/or letting loose with our own choice hand gestures. Why? We are reacting to the hurt by trying to hurt back. It’s a knee-jerk reaction.
But does it make you feel better? It may help you release your frustration, but you create more anger when you engage in it. You may throw some back at your “attacker,” but now you have created more anger! In addition you are carrying the original anger inside of you as you remember the transgression and your anger about it. They threw the “ball” and you “caught” it. And then you added to the ball. It’s bigger now.
Now that you have the anger ball, there is a good chance that you will soon throw it to someone else, continuing the pattern. (Watch out to the next person who aggravates you even slightly.) Notice that I say throw it “to” someone not “at” someone. This implies that the recipient has the choice of whether to catch it or not. When we catch the ball of anger, it keeps getting passed around. So what’s the alternative?
Be the change you want to see.
Be the patience, the kindness, the compassion you want to see. How? When anger is sent your way, meet it with compassion and understanding that the person throwing the anger is struggling and doesn’t yet know how to do so in a constructive way. Their struggle probably has nothing to do with your driving and more to do with some other frustration. So meet their anger with kindness and compassion. This melts the anger which can then no longer be thrown. This takes lots of practice and preparedness for when it does happen.
How “Being the Change” Helps the Whole World
Compassion is understanding, relating to the other person’s struggle. We’ve been there too. If we want it we must give it. And as the law of attraction states, you will receive more of what you give. When you give compassion, others will be more likely to do the same. Why? When you give kindness it melts people’s hearts, opening them up to give kindness back out to someone. That’s a ball you want to catch and throw over and over again!
Now the other driver may or may not receive your kindness, but don’t count it out. As you choose compassion towards the driver, in that instant you become ready to share it more easily with the next person you meet. And like ripples in a pond, your kindness will travel from person to person rippling through the world, making the world a kinder place – the change you want to see! Chances are that in some way it will reach that driver eventually!
It’s understandable to feel skeptical. What if you feel like you are already being kind to your spouse, you already smile at drivers who curse you, and you still encounter mean grumpy people? Yes, you will continue to meet those people. Your spouse may continue to be less kind than you would like. But YOU will have changed! You will no longer be reacting to life, but rather living on purpose in the way that you hope to see in others. You will be happier on the inside despite grumpy people around you. Your happiness is your choice.
The other thing to remember, also, is to give without expectation of receiving. You must be kind and compassionate without judging others’ level of kindness and compassion. You can only control you. If you are “being kind with your spouse” but at the same time harboring judgement against them, they will pick that up – even if your judging is only in your head! You can’t hide it. Really!
So you must release expectation and release judgement of others, otherwise people will feel your judgement. Judgement makes people close up. This will defeat all your good work of being more affectionate or kind. Be the change you want to see in the world in the purest sense you can. Challenge yourself to be honest about your “work” on this, but at the same time be compassionate towards yourself too. Recognize your good work and let that be a joy to you.
How to Establish a Habit of “Being the Change”
- Write down the things that have been bothering you in general – with co-workers, friends, your spouse, or strangers.
- Write down what change you would like to see.
- Think of ways that you can be that change. Gently meditate on this.
- Mentally rehearse it so you can be ready for it in real life. Take a small amount of quiet time for this.
- Be the change you want to see.
- Repeat daily.
As I said before it takes practice to establish this as a habit, but YOU CAN DO IT! Practice it in real life and in your mind each morning and night. You will be amazed at the results!
Have you ever experienced the benefits of this? I’d love to hear from YOU!
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