Be the change you wish to see in the world, a potent quote that has become famous as a representation of what Mahatma Gandhi stood for and a powerful sentence that offers such a depth of wisdom in the most simple and elegant of ways. The funny thing is upon doing a little research it turns out that he actually never said it or at least there is no documented proof of him saying it.
The closest we get to “be the change” is- “We but mirror the world. All the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. This is the divine mystery supreme. A wonderful thing it is and the source of our happiness. We need not wait to see what others do.”
This sentence pretty much says the same thing and it is probably a better representation of what I want to talk about in this article. The problem with some quotes is they can really get lost in translation. Most of us have probably heard the spiritual words-
“We are one”
“Expanding My Consciousness”
But a lot of the time they really lose their strength and just become things that are said to give the impression that someone is spiritually aware. It is very easy to say something! It is also very easy to buy Buddha statues and incense, meditate, recycle your sandals and use eco-friendly deodorant. But to actually embody the ideals that are behind living a true spiritual path is really quite a different story.
So while the quote “be the change” is not correctly attributed and may have lost a lot of its strength in translation, it very much deeply represents the embodiment of living spiritually, with good intentions.
I cannot explain how to live spiritually, as living spiritually is not one thing and will differ depending on your environment, who you are and what you stand for. I do however want to try to portray the importance of being the change in your own world and how by doing so you will have the biggest chance to impact the world around you in a positive way!
Accept parts of your external world
Trying to change everything in an attempt to create the perfect reality is not a realistic strategy to living. Things will never be perfect and parts of the world around you will be pretty hard to accept, but ultimately that is the only choice you have.
People will hurt you and people will hurt others and you will have to stand by and watch (sometimes). There will be wars, governments will oppress and natural disasters will continue to cause devastation.
Family members will die, you will have arguments and at times people will be inconsiderate (including yourself) these are all just part of the journey and while I am not proclaiming that you need to just grow a thick skin and not care, there will come a point where you have to choose to live in the pain or to accept the pain as part of the journey.
Remove parts of your external world
Some parts of your external world will be very different from the unavoidable bumps that happen in life. Some will be very predictable and preventable, it is up to you to remove these more negative aspects of life.
What you consume in life will have an energetic impact on you and effect the way you feel on a consistent basis, so it is important if you want any quality of life that you monitor these things. What you watch on TV, what you eat, the company you keep, your relationships and your job are all parts of your external world that you have control over, so if they are not serving you, you should be attempting to replace them with more positive things.
Change your internal world
While you may not have full control over the things I just mentioned, you do have control over how you reaction to them. It is not always easy, but you should at least be moving towards changing your negative perspectives of the world, your habits and thoughts.
This can be done through practice- practice meditation, practice compassion, practice patience, practice being a better person. You will not always get things right and you will never be perfect, but if you strive to be the best you can be and continually practice doing the right things (even when no one is looking) your internal world will change, which will change the way you look at the external world.
Give what you can
Emotionally, physically, intimately, financially give what you can. Give your time, your love and the insights you have gained on your journey to those who need and want it <(important)
Everyone has gifts and abilities that others can benefit from, if you have something you can share with the world then there is no reason why you shouldn’t share it.
This is where changing your world can have a ripple effect, because when you look at the suffering and problems that exist in the world they only do so through a lack of giving.
You may not be able to solve the homeless crisis we have all over the world, but you may be able to have a conversation with a local homeless person and buy them a coffee. Who knows maybe someone will see what you have done and feel it is now acceptable for them to do the same thing or maybe the homeless person will gain something significant from the experience.
Preserve your body and mind (don’t give everything in one go)
To create change you need to have the right vessel, think of it like this- if a fireman wants to put out a fire they have their fire truck with all the gadgets and gismos needed to put out a fire. Without that they may still be able to put out the fire, but it will leave them exposed and in more danger than usual.
Think of your body and mind as that fire truck, in order to “be the change” you need to take care of your body and mind. Get enough sleep, exercise, fuel your body correctly and just generally take care of yourself.
Preservation is also important and while in the last section I said give what you can, in this section I am going to say don’t give more than you can, because when you try to give more of yourself than is humanly possible you can guarantee it will lead to burnout and you being less than optimal.
Align with people who share your passion
It doesn’t matter if you have the finest piece of grass fed organic fillet stake at 99% off the usual price, if you try to sell it to a table full of vegans they are not going to buy it.
The same rings true for you, if you have passions and things that you would like to achieve in life don’t go preaching it to the unconverted! Try to align with those who feel and want the same things that you do.
Don’t dwell on the unchangeable
With all this being said, I think it is important to understand that life is a journey, it has its up and downs. There are moments when everything is going right and moments when you can’t do anything right.
I think it is important to embrace it all and trust the journey, because there will be many things that are totally out of your control. Try not to dwell on these different states of mind and when it feels like everything is going wrong just continue to push forward.
People come and go, habits are born and sometimes they die. What means the world to you today, may not be significant tomorrow and many moments of humiliation become memories that are laughed at.
Try not to control every little aspect of the world around you, because ultimately you cannot. All you can do is your best and at the times when it is not enough you have to learn to shrug it off and take the lesson!
Being the change is not about changing the world, it is about changing yourself and when you can do that the world around you will also change!
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