“Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.” John F. Kennedy
I love this quote. Although it talks about citizens and their country, it applies to all areas of life: from relationship to work to wealth to happiness. I love this quote because it summarizes the whole idea of giving first; of being of service first; of planting the seeds first. But isn’t true that we tend to do the opposite? We want to receive first, we want to be taken care of first, we want to be loved first, we want to reap first? The interesting thing is, when we serve first, when we love first, when we give first, the whole life flows in a completely different way.
I believe in ideas. I believe in quotes. I believe in good thoughts. I believe that it can take just one single idea to transform our life. One single idea. So the more we expose ourselves to great ideas, the more we are on the path of self-discovery, growth and true fulfillment. So keep learning, reading, listening and engaging in good ideas because everytime you do so, you are planting the seed of life change.
Let us every time we want to comment, make a statement, or give an opinion, ask ourselves before:
Am I by saying this making things better or worse?
Am I part of a potential solution or part of the problem by dwelling on the negativity? Will my statement improves the situation, help the person, or solve the challenge? Or will it fuel it more and more?
Do my words create a vision and increase hope, encouragement and motivation for a better way or future or create more hopelessness, depression, anger, or even more violence?
Let’s face it, like it or not, we ARE responsible and this is valid in any context from small group, to family, to organizations, to nations. And yes, EVERY SINGLE WORD we say does count, everywhere including social media (I should even say ESPECIALLY social media).
Let us keep reminding ourselves that we are RESPONSIBLE. And the very first step of claiming back our responsibility and taking real charge is by basing what we say on values not on pure reaction to our emotions, and people and events around us. At the end of the day, everything we say, represents exactly who WE truly are, nothing more, nothing less.
“When you squeeze an orange, orange juice comes out – because that’s what’s inside. When you are squeezed, what comes out is what is inside.” Wayne Dyer
I used to feel lost in a lot of situations on how to behave and how to deal with some difficult people. Sometimes even quite trivial things, like leaving the food plates and the tray at the table instead of putting in the appropriate place before leaving, at a self service restaurant. Things like how to respond to someone who is always a taker and almost never a giver . Things like people I love and care for whom I stay in touch with while they almost never do. I was lost on how to respond and what to do until the day I heard this quote from one of my favorite writers, Dr. Wayne Dyer. He said: “When you have the choice to be right or be kind, always choose being kind.”
That was when something very deep within me resonated with his words and gave me the answer to my wonder. From that point on, in challenging situations or even trivial ones, when I don’t know how to respond, I try to follow Dr. Wayne’s words. At times it is so painful and extremely challenging to take this path; and while sometimes I make it, honestly at others, I fail. Yet still, this pure voice within me reminds me always: Choose being kind. Choose being kind. Choose being kind.
“We generally change ourselves for one of two reasons: inspiration or desperation.” Jim Rohn
Inspiration and desperation: These are the best places to start, and foundation of, true lasting change.
Inspiration because your passion will pull you move towards the things you want to achieve. Once you are inspired, you will just find yourself attracted towards this exciting goal and the more desire the faster you will transform.
Desperation because when you hit bottom in any area in your life you will stand up and say: “I have had it! I won’t take it anymore.” And this is the day when your whole life in this area will transform and the upward circle of positive change starts.
Next time you feel very inspired or the way you feel extremely bad about something, get excited and take the very first step. This can be the first step of radical positive change. This can be the start of life transformation. This can be the door towards a better future. Go for it!
Yoga, meditation and prayer could be great lights in our life but the values and benefits of these practices cannot be sustained if we don’t deliberately carry them with us outside the practice. It is like a fire that we build somewhere: at home, in the yoga studio or at the church or mosque. It is our own choice, though, to carry this light with us along the way or leave it there.
Instead of just doing the asana, watching our breath or connecting and praying to God only during these practices, what we are truly in need, is to bring the consciousness, the presence and the values we live and create during this time into our daily life. Thus every situation becomes a moment of truth how much we are committed to these practices and indeed living their values every day.
“…as human beings, we are responsible for our own lives. Our behavior is a function of our decisions, not our conditions. We can subordinate feelings to values. We have the initiative and the responsibility to make things happen.” Stephen Covey
(Continued from Part 1)
This was when I started to experiment with self responsiblity in most dimensions of my life. From relationship, to work, to continuous learning, to taking care of my body and health. I started building up creating new habits by replacing bad ones with good and empowering ones.
I got so excited and committed to wake up early every morning (even on weekend at the beginnings to make it a habit). I can recall how tough this was as I, (like most of us), have always believed that I am not a “morning person”. I got inspired by the idea of reading and learning something new every single day. I started to use a journal to reflect on my own experiences and challenges. I went on to nurture some traits within me like gratitude and start listing things I am grateful for everyday. I took up sports although I was the kind of person who almost never moves.
The list could go on and on but the most important was that all these changes I made were simply because I believed in the power that I have instead of complaining and blaming everyone except myself. So I focused on my circle of influence as Stephen Covey (1) calls it and by doing so it started to get bigger and bigger. So most areas of my life start to get better and better and consequently became able to have more control on things which were before outside my influence.
“For your life to change you must change” – Jim Rohn
More to be continued in the next posts.
(1) The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
“You must be the change you want to see in the world.” Mahatma Ghandi
Here is my own experience and exploration on personal responsibility, two words which are so simple, yet they represent one of the most profound ideas to start a change and improvement in our life. They are basis on which we can build our own success and fulfillment, because they are the very foundation of any possible change.
I can never forget that day when this all started to change. Waiting in between two flights at the airport, I got hold of a little book (1) which talked how we, as human being, get stuck in reality most of our life; complaining and blaming everyone and everything about it, and by doing so; we lose the opportunity to act, to change, to make it better.
I remember when I got back home that night how excited I was about this idea and the fact that by taking more responsibility, I can start to change my life for the better. I went on and immersed myself in good materials from topics like personal development, leadership, psychology, metaphysics and religion to better understand this idea. I wanted to know when does self responsibility apply, where does this start and where does it end.
To my surprise, all these materials confirmed the same thing. We have to take full responsibility of our own life, because very simply if we don’t, no one else will! Then I came across one “equation” which explained the whole idea of personal responsibility (2). The equation was:
E + R= O
O is the Outcome which means the result we ended up with in any context. This could be depression or failure for example or joy and success in any area of our life.
E is the Events in our life. This could represent anything exterior to us. For example people like our boss, our employees, our colleagues, our friends, our partner. Or it could be, things that happened to us, like an accident, a challenge, our job, etc.
R is our Response. How do we respond to any stimulus outside us. We could have a difficult boss but still rise up to the challenge of dealing with him or we could also just complain about him and blame him all the time for our miserable life or performance.
To put it another way: Everything outside us + Response we make to it = Our Life. This equation shows that whatever we get in our life is simple a function of what we do with what happen to us or anything outside our control not just these latter. Our life is then, the sum of the choices we made to respond to everything that happened to us and everyone outside us. Thus if we complain, we simply give up our “R”. We Resign. We waste our unlimited capability to change; to improve; to get what we want in life.
Understanding that I don’t really need to take care of the events outside my control or influence, and that I just need to focus on what I can change, or influence to change, made me so excited and so self motivated. By just knowing that I CAN change, that I HAVE control , and that I CAN ACT ON instead of just being acted upon, I got so inspired. This was the time I started experimenting applying this simple idea on my own life.
“Circumstances don’t make the man, they reveal him” James Allen
(To be continued in the next posts.)
(1) Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson
(2) The Success Principles by Jack Canfield and Janet Switzer
The most precious gift we can give to our friends, to our family, to our kids, to our partner, to our colleagues, to our employees, to an acquaintance, to anyone in this world, is simple and completely free yet we rarely give it.
It is not money. It is not things. It is not giving them an advice or telling them kind words. It is not even doing something for them.
The most precious gift we can give anyone is being fully present while we are with them, whether during a talk, a walk, over a meal or just doing something together. The most precious gift is just this: BEING. Being present. Being with them with all our senses, not consumed and lost in our past nor worried about the future, just BEING.
This is the most precious gift and it is something we can give every single day, every single moment. Yes, it would require a lot of efforts to breakthrough the prison of our never stopping thinking mind to give this gift, but it is worth it because it is the only true gift no money on this planet could buy.