I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how our inner lives affect our ability to make the world a better place. It’s an idea that is at the heart of the Ripple Revolution.
Typically when we think about making a difference, we have an external focus. “What action can I take? What change can I make in the world out there.” But that’s only part of the story.
As I have been pondering how to tell the whole story, these are the words that have been running through my mind:
Be the change.
Live the change.
Make the change.
Here’s what I mean with each of those, and how each of the areas connects with the Ripple Legacy you create (your Ripple Legacy is the cumulative impact of the choices you make and actions you take in your entire life, both immediate and those that ripple out).
Be the change.
There’s a quote attributed to Gandhi that encourages us to “Be the change you want to see in the world.” If you want to make the world a better place, that’s where it all starts.
As I describe it here, being the change is a simple concept. What you set in motion in the world reflects what is going on inside. Want to see more love in the world? You can start by cultivating that love within you (both for yourself and for the world around you). Want to see more peace? Develop more inner peace.
This isn’t some abstract foofy idea. It’s pure common sense.
You have probably already experienced this numerous times in your life. Ever felt cranky and discovered that your mood has had an impact on your interactions with people around you? Or maybe you have felt deeply peaceful and grounded and were able to navigate a crisis in a way that helped those around you feel more calm (or at least less panicked) as well.
Both of those are examples of “being a change.” In each of them, your inner state of being impacted the external state of affairs. The key is being the change that nudges things in the right direction.
Not only does being the change have an impact on the world around you, it also gives you a more solid foundation to stand on. You’re more able to be effective and more able to direct your energy in a positive, productive way.
Live the change.
Your Ripple Legacy doesn’t just come from the big things you do. Much of it – possibly most of it – comes from the way you show up day in and day out as you live your life.
The choices you make and the actions you take day after day have an impact on the world around you. Sometimes that impact is positive, other times it’s negative. The more your inner world reflects the impact you want to have on the outer world (the more you can be the change), the more likely those choices and actions will have a positive impact (the more you will live the change).
Living the change doesn’t have to be big and dramatic. Often it’s the small things. For example:
- Being deeply present for a conversation with a loved one.
- Stopping and talking with a homeless guy, treating him like an equal.
- Returning a lost wallet.
- Giving another driver space to merge in front of you.
- Paying a stranger a sincere compliment.
- Telling someone you believe in them.
- Letting the person with just a couple things to buy go ahead of you in the grocery store line, even though you were there first.
- When you go shopping, asking, “What impact does this product have? Is that something I want to support?” and making choices accordingly.
There is no shortage of ways to live the change. And the more you look for opportunities, the more you’re like to find them.
Make the change.
This is what most people think of when they talk about making a difference. It’s the proactive, results-focused aspect of your efforts to make the world a better place.
This is where the volunteer work happens. It’s where the clothing drive for the homeless that you instigate takes place, and where that project you have been noodling aimed at funding educational opportunities for women in poverty unfolds. It’s where social entrepreneurs leave their mark.
Here again, being the change looms large. The more you are coming from a place of inner peace, the more you are living an internal life of openness, love, and connection, the more that impacts the work you do. The more peace you feel inside, the more sustainable any work you do is for the long-term, and the easier it is to navigate the challenges without letting them weigh you down.
Sit down with a pen and paper and take stock of your life in each of these categories.
Be the change: How am I already being the change (e.g., treating yourself with compassion, or having a committed grounding practice like meditation)? What could I do to be the change more?
Live the change: How am I already living the change? What could I do to live the change more?
Make the change: How am I already making the change? What could I do to make the change more?
The goal is to get more clarity as a place to start, not to assess whether or not you’re doing enough in any of the areas. To the degree you can, approach it with a sense of curiosity, rather than judgment.
Pick one thing from each of those categories and start experimenting with it. See what impact it has, whether that is on your inner life or the world outside.
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Brought to you by Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst TM
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