I watch the news and I get depressed. There are so many problems and scary things unfolding. Our country seems to be falling apart, violence and hate is everywhere. It’s hard not to get discouraged. I wish I could do something to make a difference, but I don’t have influence or money. Do you have any advice for those of us getting depressed by the state of the world and feeling helpless to do anything?
In one of my favorite Michael Jackson songs, he says, “You have to start with the man in the mirror. If you want to make the world a better place, then look at yourself, and make a change.” I believe this is true. Changing the world starts with each of us working on ourselves.
You can’t personally fix the big problems in the world, but there are a lot of things you CAN control and make right in your own life that will greatly influence the world and people around you, and if we all did this -- we could change everything.
Think about it -- most of the big things that have happened on this planet for both good and evil -- started with one person.
Martin Luther King Jr. was only 26 years old when he started leading the civil rights movement and all he did was speak up about his ideas. He had no clue the impact his ideas would have.
Steve Jobs believed that every single soul on this planet should and could “make a dent in the universe” even just in their family, their community or their place of business, and if we all did this, great things could happen.
A single drop of water in the middle of a lake sends out ripples that reach almost every corner. In the same way, every time you make a good choice, do a random act of kindness, choose love over fear, or choose to see another person as the same as you, ripples of good energy are sent out into the universe.
The problem is that most of us don’t think our small efforts matter, so we don’t try hard enough. We can’t see these ripples of positive energy we send into the world, so we think we aren’t powerful, but we are.
Albert Einstein said, “The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil but by those who watch them, without doing anything.” You cannot continue to think you don’t matter. We all matter. We are not small and powerless. We have incredible power, and using that power starts with controlling what happens in our own heads and our own behavior.
One of my favorite authors, Napoleon Hill, said, “Human beings are given complete control over nothing save the power to think their own thoughts.” The sad part is that most of us deny we have this power over our minds. We honestly believe outside influences force us to think or feel the way we do. We think people can make us mad or hurt our feelings, but this isn’t true.
You have complete control over what you think and feel. No one can make you mad without your permission. No one can hurt your feelings without your participation. You decide whether or not to be upset, how you will feel about events or people, and how you will behave. You can choose trust, love, honesty, tolerance, forgiveness, kindness and peace in every moment of your day. You can do that, and if enough of us did, we could completely outnumber the ones choosing judgment, arrogance, hate, criticism, racism, dishonesty and war.
You also have power to influence the people around you. You can show them another way to live with your peaceful, tolerant, loving, honest, genuine, trusting energy. You can literally push them away from fear and toward love. When you choose to live in love, you send out energy that attracts others to join you.
You may not be able to change the world today -- but you can change your world today!
If you are bothered with the violence, distrust, judgment, and division that you see in the world right now, especially in the Middle East or Ferguson, Missouri, you can be part of the solution right now by making sure you see the people around you accurately. You must see past the differences and love people where they are. Most of the conflict on this planet happens because we see ourselves as different from other people and subconsciously assume that some of us must be better and some of us worse. Differences like race, religion, political party and ideology divide us and we subconsciously see others as the bad guys.
It would be a huge step toward changing the world if you (and all of us) would consciously choose to see every human being (that crosses our path) as having the same value we do. We must stop seeing ourselves as better than others.
We must choose to honor and respect their right to be on their journey and have their own beliefs. This means choosing to love those with different religious beliefs, sexual orientation, economic or social class, those from a different neighborhood, who cheer for the rival college, who vote for the other party or who think your religion is crazy. All of them have the same value as you. They are not the bad guys just because they think different, look different, or act different.
If you could start there, making that change, you could change the world. You could eliminate racism, prejudice, judgment, criticism and hate from your own head and heart, which will attract others to you. Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean giving up your values. It just means choosing to see love as the highest law.
Here are some things you can control today that can make you better. You can control:
• How much what other people do or say affects you. Don’t give their thoughts or actions power, there is no reason to suffer over any of it.
• How much you judge or criticize other people. Choose to love, respect and honor instead, it will make you feel fantastic about yourself.
• How your value is determined. I recommend seeing your value as infinite and absolute and that it never changes and isn’t on the line because life is a classroom, not a test.
• How stressed you will feel about any situation. You always have the option of trusting the universe, that it is conspiring to serve you. Even when it looks bad it is just bringing you an amazing lesson. Trust everything will work out for your benefit in the end.
• Whether you get upset or not. Nothing can make you upset. It is always a choice. Peace, trust and love is always your other one.
• How much gratitude you feel for what you have. Spend more time being grateful then you do complaining or blaming others.
• How much time you spend regretting your past. Since you can’t change it, it’s kind of a waste of time to suffer over it. Let it go, move forward and be better.
• How scary the future feels. It might look scary, but you don’t have to feel scared. You can choose peace, trust and love instead.
• How positive your thoughts are.
• How much negative stuff you pick up and carry.
• How you treat other people.
• How often you speak up in truth and love.
• How honest you are.
• How often you smile.
• How often you encourage or inspire others.
If you spend every day focused on controlling these things, you will feel better about the rest. I promise. You will also be helping to push the world in a more positive direction.
You can do this.
(Kimberly Giles is the founder and president of claritypointcoaching.com. She is also the author of the new book “Choosing Clarity: The Path to Fearlessness” and a popular coach and speaker.)