There is a story about a woman who brought her son to Gandhi and asked him to advise the boy not to eat sugar.
Gandhi replied, “Okay, but not today. Come back in two weeks.” The woman did return, and Gandhi said to her son, “You must stop eating sugar. It’s very bad for you.”
His mother, naturally, was curious as to why Gandhi made her wait two weeks. He replied that before he could tell her son to stop eating sugar, he must first do it himself.
One of Gandhi’s most famous quotes is:
“You must be the change you want to see in the world.”*
(*Gandhi may never have said this. But let’s put that aside for now and focus on the message.)
It echoes a simple spiritual teaching: As within, so without.
And while it may be simple, it has a profound effect when we consciously apply it in our lives. (Actually, it’s having a constant profound effect on our lives—we’re just often not aware of it.)
This concept puts the responsibility for how we experience our lives squarely on our own shoulders.
It is not to say that we can affect everything that happens around us. But our responses—which are completely within our control—affect how we interact with others. And our interactions with others have an impact on their days and their lives.
Everything we say and do has a ripple effect.
And slowly, incrementally, our ripples can create waves. We get to choose what we want to see more of in our world by putting more of that out there, bit by bit.
So, let’s take that quote and do more than “like” or share it on Facebook. Let’s embody it as we move through our days. Because it’s so much more than good fodder for a bumper sticker or social media post.
It’s a really good philosophy to live by.
How do we do that? By simply starting each day with the question:“What do I want to see in my world today?”
Followed by: “How can I help make that happen?”
And if you’re having difficulty answering, here’s another quote that nicely complements Gandhi’s and may be of help:
“If you want joy, give joy to others; if you want love, learn to give love; if you want attention and appreciation, learn to give attention and appreciation; if you want material affluence, help others to become materially affluent.” ~ Deepak Chopra*
(*Deepak definitely said that!)
When we apply this teaching consciously, it empowers us to more deliberately create the kind of world we want to live in.
Facing scary and uncertain times ahead, believing in the difference we can each make to the world around us is essential—to keep us from despair and motivate us to actually make that difference.
So, whether Gandhi said this or not, let’s commit to being the change we want to see in this world.
Author: Hilda Carroll
Image: Flickr/Shan Sheehan
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina