How to Be the Change You Want to See in the World

Many people are getting the insight that the best way for them to respond to the state of the world today is to find and live love and peace in their own hearts. The question, then, is how to actually do that?

I recently had an experience about that I’d like to share.

When I get to thinking about the state of the world, the level of human suffering, the weather changes, impending food and water shortages, GMO foods, the increasing incidence of autoimmune diseases, growing violence in the streets, divisiveness, things like that, I can start having some pretty strong feelings, especially where to start to help improve the world. 

As soon as I catch myself going down this line of thinking, I remind myself of something Gandhi said: “Be the change you want to see in the world.” For me, that change would be for all of us to be more open-hearted…toward ourselves, toward each other, and toward the whole planet.

So, while on a recent vacation, I vowed to myself that I was going to practice being more open-hearted.

I spent time sensing into my heart area, settling into the peace and joy that is there. I would breathe into my heart area and let it expand. I would connect my head to my heart and ask my heart to inform my head. I would say to myself, “See, being open-hearted is really cool, feels really good, and I’m getting better and better at it.” I said that last to myself because I was feeling so much less of everything bothersome, like angst, frustration, anger, impotent to do anything meaningful, etc.

The result of this practice? I was much crabbier towards Patti than usual. When she pointed that out, initially I was dumbfounded. “How could that be??!! I’m sitting here in my open heart.” In the past, I would have stayed dumbfounded for some time, but I’ve been practicing the Seven Tools of Healing and was able to see what I was doing wrong, once it was pointed out to me: I’d fallen into one of the most common traps in our current self-help movement.

You see, any time you try to make yourself be any different than you actually are, there is a very strong likelihood that some aspect of your present moment’s truth is going to get repressed or denied in the process. Repression and denial are forms of attention and your creative abilities go to wherever you are paying attention. That is a law of Consciousness. In the past, I’ve spent so many years forcing myself to change, I unconsciously fell right back into that same old MO. No matter how spiritual or enlightened the goals of personal change, if the process isn’t correct, the results will be disappointing.

While practicing being open-hearted, I was inadvertently repressing those other bothersome feelings, whose absence in my awareness I took as proof that the open-hearted practice was working, and they started bubbling up as being irritated and having a short fuse. So if actively practicing being the change I want to see in the world didn’t work, what would?

The Seven Tools process for personal change says see just how I am feeling in the moment, admit the truth of that, and just be kind to myself about that. So I stopped trying to make myself be open-hearted and instead practiced the Seven Tools.

My irritability went away and that joyful, blissful open-hearted perspective became like a big fluffy blanket large enough to hold in its loving fold whatever was going on in my present moment: the anger, frustration, worry about my grandkids…everything. Since I made that change—to be aware of my personal truth in this moment and just be kind to myself about it—that’s been all the open-heartedness I’ve needed. If you too want to be your true authentic self in response to these tumultuous times, see your truth in this moment and open your heart to that.  

Give it a try and let me know what you think, or what you’ve found works well for you. I’d also like to hear what change you want to see in the world.

Love your truth.