Mahatma Gandhi once said, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” People often look outside of themselves for answers to why they are unhappy or are not reaching their goals, and this simple sentiment reminds us that only we are responsible for ourselves. If we are looking for change, we must understand that change comes from within.October 2nd would be Gandhi’s 241st birthday. The word Gandhi itself means “Great Soul,” and his birthday seems an appropriate time to honor his vision of the powerful concept of self-change.
When Gandhi saw intolerance and tyranny, he fought with civil disobedience. Based on the Hindu belief of ahimsa, or non-violence, this form of protest was often met with laughter and scorn. Gandhi said, “First they ignore you; then they laugh at you; then they fight you; then you win.” Eventually, through steadfast adherence to ahimsa, Gandhi was taken more and more seriously, and he changed the lives of literally millions of Indians living under unjust and unfair conditions. Through ahimsa and satya (truth), Gandhi became the change he wished to see in the world.
But how do most of us react to strife and injustice? What do we do when things are not going our way? Most of us, when we are not striving toward a higher goal, will blame, minimize, justify or deny. Some people even lash out, completely disregarding the principle of ahimsa.
Most of us do not turn to violence to express our displeasure, but we often do abandon the concept of satya, or truth to ourselves. We offer reasons and excuses, external factors, to explain our defeat or unhappiness. When we take ownership of our thoughts, words and actions, however, we come one step closer to reaching a higher level of consciousness, and to being the change. By accepting and taking ownership of our successes and failures, we become truer to ourselves.
Our thoughts become our realities. If we stay positive and look for solutions, we will find solutions and happiness. If we dwell in negativity and seek problems, we will be mired in them. In order to be the change that we wish to see in the world, we have to take responsibility for everything that happens in our life: good and bad, happy and sad, success and failure. We are the creators of our destinies. We must be the change that we wish to see in the world. Just like Gandhi.