I try to be a happy and peace-filled person, but sometimes along life’s journey our society gets in the way of my attempt at inner-peace. It seems to me that more and more people are becoming self-centered, not caring about what is happening around them. I’m not saying this is true for everyone all the time, but I seem to be experiencing this more often from more people. Any one else have the same experience?
So, when I came across this quote circulating the social media sites it gave me a moment of pause and reflection.
How true! The quote hit me, and hit me hard, because it speaks to the philosophy upon which I try to live, and of which I write, yet for a moment along my journey I seemed to have forgotten the point. It’s not about me and my thoughts; nor my thoughts about society that matter. Rather, it is on what I can “do” to improve society (or, to help people). Was I, in my righteous thinking, becoming and acting like those I was judging?
I recall attending a seminar some years ago led by Dr. Judith Beck where she stated: “It’s not as important what I think; rather, what I do with what I think.” Those who regularly read my reflections will note my insistence upon action as a goal for our lives. How true is this in light of the world around us. If we combine the zen quote with Dr. Beck’s statement, what we have is a way of life focused on the other, not the self. A way in being wherein my actions toward another, irregardless of my current emotional state, will not only affect the other, but ultimately come back to me in a positive way. For how can I help another without myself being affected? St. Francis of Assisi prayed: “For it is in giving that we receive.”
How do we put into practice this zen quote? Perseverance, determination and practice. In the college class I teach we review a work entitled “Flow: the Psychology of Optimal Experience” written by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. In this work the author posits that to create happiness it is not the world that must change, rather, our habits and actions need to change. I have written often about this need for a change in perspective (click here for more details from my reflections). He further states that the happiest people are those who are engaged in the world, doing activities in the world which have a high level of difficulty, and accomplishing what one has set out to do. Therefore, if we do our best to engage the world in making it a better place, we in turn receive a feeling of happiness. To the old adage “actions speak louder than words”.
Our challenge, therefore, is to find the strength and energy within us, whether or not we feel it, to reach out and encourage others. Not to judge or wish things were different, but to act in such a way as to inspire others so to make it different! Unless we act toward change, change will not happen. How can I do this?