To say that 2021 started out a little rough may be an understatement. It’s hard not to feel overwhelmed by the politics, by the pandemic, by the long road ahead. I think all of us can acknowledge some change is needed.
It reminds me of a bit of history I’ve always liked.
In 346 BCE, Philip II of Macedon (Alexander’s father) was rampaging through Greece, crushing one city-state after another. When he came to Sparta, he demanded their surrender, saying “If I win this war, you will be slaves forever. I will destroy your farms, slay your people and raze your city.” The Spartans replied with one word: “If.”
Philip detoured around Sparta.
The turbulence we’re seeing in the outer world isn’t separate from ourselves. Whether we realize it or not, it has emotional and physical impacts on all of us. But we cannot merely resist it — we can change things. It can be the simple act of choosing love and compassion, or of more actively going out and doing something that could make a difference.
One of my favorite quotes is from Gandhi, who said “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. ... We need not wait to see what others do.”
In other words, nobody else is going to create the change you desire. Individuals always have power to change things. It is just perspective that makes one think otherwise. In order to change this, it is necessary to shift perspective from victim to change-maker.
Even the smallest actions ripple outward and have the potential to effect change. How can we accomplish this task? Here are some things one can be mindful of that will help get you on your way:
Be willing to work hard. As with anything in life, if you want something, you’ve got to work hard to get it. Action is what’s important and the more inspired the action, the better the results.
Make sure you have friends you can talk to. Sharing the load is important. If you can get feedback on how you are doing, that’s great. But you also need people who will tell you how it is even when you don’t want to hear it. Make sure you have a good support network, especially those people whose opinions you respect.
Use your time wisely. One thing we know is that we each have one life on this planet. Look at how you currently spend your days: Do you sit working all day, get home, eat and then sit slumped in front of the TV for the rest of the evening? Time is precious, so isn’t it time to make use of the time you have left? Try something new: Go for a walk, learn a new language, or meditate. Make sure it’s something you absolutely love.
Always be consistent. Make changes to how you do things. When you make a commitment, stick to it. It will improve your life immeasurably; you’ll feel more confident and happier with yourself.
Find your happy place. Self-care is something many of us don’t take seriously. Especially in uncertain times, it is important that you find what you love to do, what makes you happy, and do it. This is how you get the energy to make positive changes. Meditation is a great way to find your happy place; it brings you back to yourself and ensures you are always living in the present moment.
Self-improvement and accomplishing goals is a wonderful way to reinvent yourself, but it’s hard. It starts with how you see the world and how you can positively affect others. Small steps lead to larger ones. The pandemic has created an environment that is ripe for self-improvement. We have the power to turn recent events into a motivational positive.
If we have the courage.
Anne Nesbit is the prevention and public information officer and a volunteer battalion chief for the Key Peninsula Fire Department. She lives in Lakebay.
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