“…feelings like disappointment, embarrassment, irritation, resentment, anger, jealousy, and fear, instead of being bad news, are actually very clear moments that teach us where it is that we’re holding back. They teach us to perk up and lean in when we feel we’d rather collapse and back away. They’re like messengers that show us, with terrifying clarity, exactly where we’re stuck. This very moment is the perfect teacher, and, lucky for us, it’s with us wherever we are.” ~ Pema Chödrön
When we think of evolution we normally associate it with millions of years passing by and hairy, crooked Neanderthals.
But we are all evolving every day, minute by minute.
It is most obvious when we are younger of course.
From birth we quickly evolve our physical and verbal skills. Our language evolves first into body language then into verbal sounds until we eventually have speech. The evolution is clear and rapid.
As we get older there are times when it feels like we might never grow again, that we are too far gone to change our ways.
But we can evolve at any time in our lives. In fact, at a cellular level, we are already doing it. Who we were yesterday is not who we might be today—we are constantly in a state of renewal, and we can extend that by being open to change on other levels.
As we grow we can leave behind the things that don’t nourish us—physically, mentally or spiritually.
We can actively evolve by letting go of things like hate, annoyance and anger—that’s not to say they won’t sometimes come up again, but the more we practice, the more we can become aware of these emotions and attitudes within ourselves and so diminish their power over our actions.
We can then begin to leave these things behind by acknowledging that they are not necessary for our survival and actually decrease our chances of living a happy, healthy life.
In natural evolution it is the very things that make a creature different which help them to survive. They pass these unique qualities on to their offspring and so evolution is more about the collective than the individual.
We can do the same.
By working on the qualities inside us that expand our hearts and minds, we can then pass these traits down, not only to our offspring, but to each other, and to ourselves—the selves of tomorrow. We can pass these good qualities along, day by day, and they get stronger and stronger, more and more embedded in our nature.
So over time things like ignorance, intolerance and indifference can be diminished, while awareness, kindness and compassion can keep evolving until they become engrained.
Of course there is potential for our lives to evolve the other way. For the “darker” qualities within us to evolve and become stronger while the potential for goodness falls away.
But the good news is that we are always evolving and so no attitude or person is ever fixed—unchangeable. We can all take steps to encourage our personal evolution in another direction at any time.
The power to instigate our evolution lies in our minds—our thoughts. If we can look at ourselves honestly and pay attention to these thoughts and the tendencies these thoughts have created, we can begin to cultivate the qualities that help us grow, and let go of those that hold us back. We can begin to choose how we want to evolve.
For example, if we look at ourselves and see that we are good listeners, we can go about our day actively trying to engage with people and practice listening to them. If we make this conscious effort, we may then find ourselves in more situations where we can really listen and before long we might find people being drawn to us because of this quality. So we can practice listening more and become even better at it until it becomes one of our dominant characteristics.
It is so encouraging to me that we all have the tools to evolve constantly—that we can choose who we want to be and act in a way that helps us become that person.
We can choose today to be more loving and in choosing love, we will become more loving.
We can choose today to be more compassionate and in choosing compassion, we will become more compassionate.
Evolution is a self-perpetuating cycle. We will slowly become that which we choose.
So let’s choose wisely because this is how, slowly but surely, we will change the world around us.
Author & Artist: Mike Medaglia
Editor: Khara-Jade Warren