Thursday, May 16, 2019

...How to Change the World

Everywhere I look on social media, people are doing “challenges.” Hot yoga for 30 days, go gluten-free, detox a miscellaneous organ, master the universe. The choices are endless.

As for me, the only kind of challenge I’ve actually participated in with any consistency or success at all is Vicki Abelson’s Women Who Write 30 Day Writing Challenge, and frankly, that’s because a) I love to write, and b) I can do it from my couch in my pajamas, which seems to be an ever-increasing prerequisite for things I do in my life. 

To be fair, I don’t just sit on my couch, I ponder, I ruminate, I perseverate. I also look up words like “ruminate” and “perseverate,” just to make sure I’m using them properly.

Last night I re-prioritized the order of my reading list so that How Not to Die now comes before The Success Habits of Millionaires. This seemed like a good strategic move to me.

But before I plow ahead into my reading list and soak up all the self-improvement I can, I want to go back to this whole idea of challenges.

I’ve got nothing against the six-week exercise boot camp, or drinking a gallon of water a day for 75 days. Truly, I don’t. However, it occurred to me that these things are not going to change the world from its current state of, well, utter demise. And I’ve been kind of freaking out about the demise thing, lately.

This got me wanting to start my own challenge. Could I create a challenge that would change the quality of my life for the better while, also, changing the world for the better?

Is this Gandhi stuff about “being the change” true, or is it just something I keep telling myself to ease the soul-crushing feeling I’ve been having for the past couple of years?

Here’s what I’ve decided: screw the soul-crushing. The world can’t afford it. This feeling of powerlessness is just a feeling, albeit one that is reinforced daily by news of diminishing human rights, the crumbling of our democratic infrastructure, catastrophic climate change, and blatant disregard for basic decency. It makes me want to rock back and forth in the fetal position, gently weeping. So I completely understand if you’re feeling that way, too. But it’s time to change it and I’m inviting anyone who is game, to do this with me.

Here’s the challenge, and I’ll use the vernacular that motivational speakers use, even though it makes me roll my eyes and want to gag – I’m gonna “level up” – kindness, compassion, empathy, and love, both for myself and the world, and here’s how:

1)   Every day, I’m going to say something nice to at least one person, could be a person I know, or better yet, a stranger. It could be anything from “I love your nail polish” to “you brighten my life, thank you for being in it.” One person, every day, something nice.

2)   I’m going to engage in at least one meaningful conversation with someone every day in which I listen, really listen to the other person. Again, could be someone I know or someone I don’t, could be on the phone or in person. But I’m going to listen, because listening is a way I show that I give a damn. And I think giving a damn is a valuable gift to give anyone.

3)   Plant a tree, metaphorically speaking…or a real one, if you’re so inclined, though that’s not what I’m actually talking about here.

There’s a Greek proverb that I love and it goes like this: “A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.”

So every day I’m taking one action for a cause, whether it’s calling senators, working for a charity I’m passionate about, campaigning for someone I believe in - one thing every day that is an action toward the world I’d like to live in. Can you imagine what would happen if we all would take just one action every day for a cause?

4)   Meditate, whether it’s for five minutes or twenty. Surely, I can start my day off with at least five minutes of focused peace. I waste way more time than that on Facebook.

5)   Lastly, I’m going to say “I love you” to at least one person every day. Again, could be anyone.

I once watched a video of different people’s reactions when they were told they were beautiful. They were utterly transformed. And I can’t help but think that this is something I could do – say something nice, listen, take one contributing action, get quiet, and let someone know they are loved.

I invite you to join me in this challenge. I’m not limiting the number of days of it, because I’d like it to become a way of life and grow exponentially, if only to prove Gandhi and me right. And the best part is – and I’m not suggesting you do it this way – but technically, I could do it from my couch. You gotta give me points for transforming the world while still dressed in my pajamas.

I hope you’ll join me, from wherever you are and let me know what you discover as you take the challenge with me.

Thank you so much for stopping by. Please tell your friends. 

#bethechange #Gandhi #changetheworld #challenge

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