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The Power of Example

Start with yourself, and watch the transformation of your inner world affect the people and environment around you

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” This oft-shared quote is commonly attributed to Mahatma Gandhi.

Those words, according to Joseph Ranseth, are a paraphrase of what he said. He actually said:

“We but mirror the world. All the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. This is the divine mystery supreme. A wonderful thing it is and the source of our happiness. We need not wait to see what others do.”

That unpacks the idea quite a bit more. Who among us can’t recall a time when we adjusted our attitude, our understanding, or our thoughts internally to then find external conditions improved? On the other hand, there’s the painful recollection of making things worse simply because of an incorrect mindset or poor emotional state. Our thoughts and our emotions—in other words, our internal world—impact the people and the environment around us.

It’s tempting today, with the state of the world, to look at external circumstances with a sense of hopelessness. Gandhi’s words offer a helpful reminder to begin by addressing the internal. Rather than throwing our arms in the air in defeat, we can be the example—the change we wish to see in the world.

As we consider the best way forward and define our aims for the new year, we might give thought to the example we are setting and whether our internal self aligns with the expectations and wishes we have for our external circumstances.

For example, if we want to see more freedom, we can live freely and make the most of the freedom we enjoy. If we wish there was more kindness in the world, we could foster compassion for others and truly be kind. If we’re concerned about the sense of fear permeating society, we can try to set down our own fears. If we wish there was more openness and truth in the world, we could focus on telling the truth and being true to ourselves.

Sometimes, the problems we so easily define are quickly recognized because we, at least to some degree, also harbor them within ourselves. Observing them can be utilized as both a learning and growth experience.

If you’re looking for hope and a positive direction in 2023, don’t wait for external circumstances to deliver that to you. Go ahead and live out your values. Be the change you wish to see in the world.

Barbara Danza

Barbara Danza is a mom of two, an MBA, a beach lover, and a kid at heart.
Here, diving into the challenges and opportunities of parenting in the modern age. Particularly interested in the many educational options available to families today, the renewed appreciation of simplicity in kids’ lives, the benefits of family travel, and the importance of family life in today’s society.

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