“Be the change you want to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi
That Gandhi quote pops up in a lot of places. It’s often used as encouragement for people to give of themselves for a greater cause, with the justification being that societal changes and charities can’t live up to their full potential if you’re not willing to give of yourself to push that cause forward.
Here’s the kicker: that core idea is true in every aspect of your life.
All of us want something different in our lives, buth from ourselves and from the people around us. We want a better financial future. We want better health. We want more responsible behavior. We want relationships that fulfill us. We want time and passion to chase our interests.
Yet, anyone with much experience in adult life knows that you don’t simply get everything that you want, from yourself or from others.
The world doesn’t always work the way we want it to work, just because we want it to work that way.
The best way to have the things we want from our life is to start doing those things ourselves. The same is true when we want to see changes in the lives of others.
Do you want a household that’s less angry and more happy? Turn the other cheek, bury your own acid tongue, and make an effort to have a happier household.
Do you want friends that are reliable and trustworthy and reflect the values you aspire to? Actively seek out new friends and spend less time with the friends that drag you down.
Do you want your family to start building a positive net worth? Stop spending money on unnecessary things, do more things yourself, and talk about those changes you’re actually doing.
If you want a life that’s different than the life you currently have, you can’t expect it to happen without you doing anything to cause it.
You need to step up to the plate with your own actions and personal changes. Without that, you can’t really expect other people or other aspects of your life to change merely because that’s what you want.
Look around your life at the elements you’re unhappy with. In almost every case, there are things you can do to make them better.
Have a relationship you wish could be patched up? Swallow some pride and apologize for whatever’s happened between you.
Want to start having money in your checking account at the end of the month? Stop buying as much stuff that you don’t really need.
Want to have a deeper relationship with your spouse? Spend more time with your spouse, even if that means spending less time on your personal interests and more time involved with their interests for the short term.
Be the change you want to see in your world. If you want something different, it’s up to you to get the ball rolling with actions, not with mere words. Don’t expect that you can tell others to change their lives merely to suit you.