4 steps to be the change you wish to see in the world
We all know the famous quote by Ghandi who said «be the change you wish to see in the world». It sounds simple, doesn’t it. But what does it really mean? That we need to be perfect all the time? That we need to treat others the way we want to be treated ourselves? And what change do you and I wish to see in the world anyways? Not to speak of the never ending question - does it really matter if little old me change when no one else does? (The answer is YES.)
A lot of people google «how to be the change» or «be the change you wish to see in the world meaning» and arrive on my virtual doorstep, so to speak. (If this is you, a very warm welcome!) I feel so blessed that you look to me for advice, and even though I'm no Ghandi I’ll try my best to guide you. I feel it's time for another post on this topic, and this time I'm using the qoute to create a more specific and literal approach. First, let me thank you on behalf of the world - thank you for wondering, questioning and searching the google for something like this. The first step to any kind of improvement is interest and willingness to change. This post is for you - I truly believe we really can change the world if we do it together.
4 steps to be the change you wish to see in the world
I encourage you to grab a notebook and write down the answers to these questions. If you come up with something brilliant, it would be very sad if you forgot it right away, wouldn’t it? My answers are included in italics below each step.
Step 1: If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?
Start by brainstorming how you would like the world to change. Spend some time in silence and listen to your inner wisdom. What needs to be changed? What do people need to heal? What does the planet need to heal? Then write down your answers on a piece of paper. It can be as many or as few as you’d like. (Sadly, these lists tend to become rather long). It helps to start each sentence with «I wish».
I wish people were treating each other more fairly. I wish people would be more connected. I wish there wasn’t so much powerty in the world. I wish people didn’t have to starve while I have plenty. I wish people would smile more. I wish for more openness around mental illness. I wish we wouldn’t treat the world so badly. I wish we could cure cancer. I wish there wasn’t any prejudice and racism. I wish more people would make their dreams come true instead of living up to norms, other people’s expectations and their own limited beliefs, I wish people would have more hope, I wish people would see their own amazingness.
(I could just go on and on, but I think you understand how to do this step.)
Now comes the hard part. Identify ONE point that you are already working on, then identify ONE point that seems particularly important to you.
Note: This might feel hard to do, as you will naturally try to compare the importance of each point. How can you decide to work on awareness of mental illness when people in Africa are starving? However, one person can not do it all, and we’ve all got our missions in the world. Some people are meant to make other people smile more (just look at guerillja knitters and people who throw seed bombs) and other people are meant to volunteer with the Red Cross). The important part is to identify your role.
For the first point, I am already working on inspiring people (you!) to make your dreams come true. The second point that seems particularly important to me right now is to work for more openness around mental illness.
Step 2: How can YOU make it happen?
The next step is to brainstorm how you can make the change you identified in step 1 happen. Don’t limit this to reason - include crazy ideas and projects that seem to big for you right now. It’s easier if you start your sentences with «I can».
I can be more open about my own illness. I can be a good listener to make a safe space for others to be more open. I can write about my experience with openness and how it has affected me and the people around me. I can share my emotions. I can inspire others to be more open. I can be thoughtful about what I share and what I don’t share so that others don’t get uncomfortable with the idea of total openness, I can raise money for a charity that promotes openness, I can write a book about mental illness, I can start my own awareness campaign, I can start my own organization/charity...
As you can see, this lists can also tend to become a bit comprehensive, but this excercise can be so inspiring! I always feel energized and full of possibilities and ideas when I do this.
Step 3: Just do it
This is the step where you will have to make some decisions. First, you have to decide what you want to work on first. I say first, because I don’t want you to start changing your ways and launching a whole bunch of projects at once. From now on, you are on a mission to change the world. Congratulations! Lucky for you, you have a whole lifetime to do this work. However, don't use this an excuse to rest! The world depends on you. Choose ONE habit to change or one project to start - and JUST DO IT. You’ll know soon enough when it’s time to implement another action.
Choose the most compelling project, the most interesting action or the area where you’ll most easily will make the biggest impact. Follow your passion and do what feels right for you.
For me, the timing is very right to start writing a book about mental illness. This way I will combine my two missions - I want to inspire, help and heal - in addition to encourage people to be more open. I will also be very open about my own struggles in the book, something I hope with contribute to change what other people are comfortable with sharing too.
Step 4: Take good care of yourself
I wanted to include this step, because it is so easy to forget that taking good care of yourself is fundamental for success. If you don’t, you will most likely not be in any position to help. I learned this the hard way and I don’t want you to do the same mistake. World changers tend to value their cause above themselves, which is very noble but can lead to burn-out, dissatisfaction, depression and exhaustion.
(ps. If you find it hard to take care of yourself for the cause of yourself, try to look at this as just another necessary step that will benefit your cause.)
Take good care of yourself. Listen to and respect your inner wisdom and your body. Rest when you need it. Indulge and treat yourself like a queen if you need it. Take time for youself, reward yourself and treat yourself like you would treat your best friend. Being the change includes treating yourself well.
Write a list of what you need right now. Then write next to each how you can give it to yourself. Be kind.
I need some time off my to-do list •• I can spend a few days offline
I need dinner right now •• I can cook healthy food for myself
I need a nap •• I can allow myself to take a nap and rest after dinner
What change do you most wish to see in the world - and how will you do it?
If you change nothing, nothing will change