By now most of us have heard Ghandi’s famous exhortation “You must be the change you wish to see in the world”. As we begin a new year, I propose we reverse his sage advice.
Better yet, apply it both ways.
I’ve pondered this a lot of late, deducing that both seeing and being the change we wish for are equally necessary and potent to manifesting it. And given the accelerated rate of change (plus no signs of it abating), we’ll need both our powers of action and vision to manifest a more harmonious, abundant, healthy world in 2012.
Is Your Vision 20-20 in 2012?
So to begin, ask yourself: When you dream, plan, desire and ponder the future, is your vision clear or cloudy?
How, day to day, when you speak to your children, your parents, your partner, your clients, do you see them?
Do you allow them to have their dreams, plans, desires and wishes without considering what they want a negation of your own?
Do you see more of the same you’ve experienced so far, or, does your imagination allow for seeing what you’d prefer instead? Does your thought process permit the vision of your ideal?
Blurred vision is so easy to have. Too easy, and most of us need a corrective prescription. Our family and relationship histories make us vulnerable to being emotionally triggered when we needn’t be. We interpret the actions (or in-actions) of others as a personal assault on ourselves. Most of the time, one has nothing to do with another.
- Your husband’s desire for more sex is not a negation of your need for more sleep.
- Your girlfriend’s wish to travel to Hawaii is not a slam on your desire to hike the Rockies.
- Your kids’ incessant curiosity about the muddy pond at the park is not a disregard of your desire to keep their clothes clean and do less laundry.
All are valid, both are necessary. It’s not an either/or world. Yet too often our conditioning, and the stories in our heads blind us to the truth.
Your ability to be the change hinges on your ability to clearly, consciously see a vision of the future without the dirty lenses of emotional baggage and history getting in the way.
How We Frame Things is Everything
And when it comes to framing things, the best news of the day is we get to choose.
A brief story: Last September I was scheduled, as I usually am in that month, to teach a seminar in New York City. This time however, a room at my customary Times Square hotel could not be procured – at any price. In fact, three-star and above hotels all over Midtown (where I needed to be) were sold out. Seems there was a major United Nations General Assembly taking place the same week as my seminar and the city was packed.
The organization I was teaching for found me a room at (shall we just say without mentioning names) a less than stellar hotel. Despite extensive web crawling of hotel and travel sites, I couldn’t do any better than their pick. So, the “historic” hotel with the bed bug reports from 2010 it was. I figured I could deal with darn near anything for only two nights.
It was disappointing, but it was the best that could be done under the circumstances.
There was a time this would have triggered emotions in me far more intense than disappointment – it would have angered me, I’d have wondered what I’d done to deserve it, or been eager to place blame. I’d have stewed in a soup of negativity and dread.
This time was different because I chose to see it differently. While luckily the hotel wasn’t quite as bad as I’d pictured (I had sprung for a room upgrade, for what it was worth) it was undeniably questionable (the kind of place you wouldn’t want to walk on the carpet barefoot). Still, I thought, if this is where circumstances were placing me, couldn’t there be a positive, vs. negative reason for it?
If my staying in a bed-bug-borderline hotel made more space for visiting United Nations members and their staffs to convene a more successful assembly which in turn led to greater worldwide political stability and harmony, wouldn’t sacrificing a little comfort for a worthy cause make sense? It was in alignment with my own intentions and desires, with my own purpose. It was the least I could do.
Choose How to Interpret What You See
It’s amazing to me how two different people can look at the world, or a situation, and see two totally different things; even more amazing that one person can do this all on his own. Everyone has self-validating filters. You can never know all the “why’s” something has occurred, nor will I ever know (nor do I care) the causal chain that affected my New York hotel stay. But, you can always choose how to interpret your circumstances – positively or negatively – as setbacks or as opportunities – lessons or punishments. We all know this, yet how often do we put it into practice?
As the year turns, I urge you to clean your windshield, set down your baggage, and make 2012 a year of consciously choosing how you will see the places, circumstances, people, relationships, and journeys in your life.
Then once your vision is clear, go – and be the change you now see.