Service is paramount to living a satisfying life. So as you welcome a new year, how will you make a difference in the lives of others? Start with a focus on personal development.
We all talk about creating a world replete with love, respect, joy and passion, but are we prepared to do our part to make it a reality? Author and historian Edward Everett Hale said, “I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.”
Believe this: One person can make a difference! If just 10 people commit to setting a higher standard for themselves this year, imagine the ripple effects those decisions will make.
While major lifestyle changes may be challenging, small pivots can be fun, engaging and result in immediate, positive outcomes. But how do you get started? Here are some ideas to inspire you to venture forward. As you contemplate the suggestions, notice that they are interrelated and support a vision for activating what is already inside you.
Not only do self-love and love of others go hand in hand, but ultimately, they are indistinguishable.”—M. Scott Peck
Love is the essence of all there is. When you wrap your heart around this truth, it may change how you see yourself. Become love in action. Recognize love as you! The most dynamic gift you can share with the world is to walk in appreciation and respect for life.
Self-love is a deliberate lifestyle pledge that must be cultivated daily. Your demonstration will speak volumes to those with whom you come in contact. Only when we love ourselves fully can we expect to share our love with others.
What limiting beliefs about yourself are you perpetuating? Are you engaged in negative self-talk? Remove the self-imposed barrier to your potential and become the prosperous, loving and dynamic person you were meant to be.
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life…It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion to clarity…”—Melody Beattie
I like to begin my mornings with gratitude, because it sets the stage for how my day will unfold. When I concentrate on the good in my life, I discover even more things to be grateful for. Being filled with thanksgiving helps me see the world through a different lens.
Gratitude doesn’t necessarily remove your current challenges. But when you are grateful for the bountiful blessings in your life, you give power to hope. And this emotion gives rise to trust, faith and optimism. Think back on past experiences and count the times you received favor. Deciding to walk with an attitude of gratitude tends to rub off on others.
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”—Maya Angelou
Let’s remind ourselves to be kind and to try to understand another person’s point of view. I realize that sometimes this can be difficult, but your efforts may contribute to another person’s growth. Approach challenges with kindness and composure, and be aware of your feelings.
Personal demonstrations of compassion are not in vain. Sometimes people benefit from models of humanity. Be the beacon of benevolence that helps someone along their path. Spirit works through others. The next time you consider withholding love, consider how your actions will make you feel.
“Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force. The friends who listen to us are the ones we move toward. When listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand.”—Karl A. Menninger
When people trust you enough to reveal their most tender selves, consider it a compliment. Active listening is a way to hold space for others without judgment. Imagine people in their leading light, and provide feedback if they ask for it. Maintain eye contact and ask questions if appropriate, and try to empathize with the person’s emotional experience.
However, sometimes all a person wants is your undivided attention. Emphatic listening, the highest form of listening, is one of the most heart-centered practices to gift a person. And the only requirement is a little bit of your time.
“Generosity begets generosity.”—Mark 4:25
Of coarse, you can be generous with your time, talent and treasure, but consider being generous with your praise and compliments as well. Make a game of it. Set out to catch people doing remarkable things and flatter them for it. You might change the trajectory of their day for the better and also encourage more of the same behavior.
You may recall in previous posts that I refer to myself as a serotonin dispensary. When I leave home to run errands, I freely offer smiles and compliments to those I meet. I have no idea who may be watching and listening. Genuine vibrations transmit long-lasting feel-good chemicals that can positively affect others within earshot.
“The only people with whom you should try to get even are those who have helped you.”—John E. Southland
Demonstrate forgiveness through your actions. When I reflect on past critics and naysayers, I realize they are the ones who best served me. I have to remind myself that it’s not all about me and try not to take the violation too personally. Sometimes, people are reacting from their own raw wounds. You don’t have to understand it, but strive to rise above the situation.
And most importantly, there are times when you must forgive yourself for any perceived infractions you may have caused. We must practice being less judgmental of others and ourselves. What I’m suggesting is not always easy, but certainly contributes to world peace – as well as peace with ourselves.
“Change your thinking, change your life.”—Ernest Holmes
Transformational change takes time and effort. Don’t expect overnight results. Retraining your thoughts is similar to breaking an undesirable habit and could take several months. However, know that the moment you start, you will be on a winning streak. What thoughts would you like to change? As an inspired aging motivational speaker and holistic wellness coach, I tell my mature and seasoned clients that they can accomplish amazing things in the second half of their lives. However, saying it is one thing – you must also believe it. Much of the resistance seems to be age-related. Some think they are too old or don’t have what it takes to realize their dreams.
You are still here for a reason and that reason is to shine your light. Don’t allow anything to stand in the way of your intentions. If you’ve been tossing around an idea for serving your community, take a step in that direction. You have everything you need to accomplish what is yours to do. Believe this deep in your soul. The world is waiting for you!
“Your own words are the brick and mortar of the dreams you want to realize. Your words are the greatest power you have. The words you choose and their use establish the life you experience.”—Sonia Choquette
Thoughts and words go hand in hand, for your words reflect your thoughts and feelings. The moment you utter a phrase, you are charting your experience in the world. That’s why it’s important to choose your words wisely. Your physical world reflects your consciousness. You must change your inner programming in order to manifest what you want. In other words, you must reframe your thoughts and words in order to experience desired results. But how?
What has helped me the most is affirmative prayer. Recognizing Spirit, unifying myself with Spirit, affirming my intention, giving thanks in advance for my demonstration, and releasing my intention into the Universe.
Further, short and succinct daily affirmations keep me focused on how I want to walk in the world. For instance, are you quick to anger? Take a few deep breaths before speaking. During those breaths, acknowledge your anger, but affirm: “My thoughts, words and actions are fueled by love, patience and kindness.”
Keep practicing until your desired responses to certain triggers become automatic. This personal practice supports a more peaceful planet.
Becoming a compassionate presence in the world – and then serving others – begins with your desire to grow as an individual. However, the ultimate principle of personal responsibility is taking action. As you invest in yourself, notice your returns. When you strive to make a palpable difference in the world through amicable acts, you support your own growth and well-being.
The sanguine energy you attract into your life is built on respect and appreciation for yourself. When you love boldly, confidently and authentically, you pass it out into the world. Continue to radiate warmth wherever you are, and sparks of goodwill from unexpected sources will ignite you, too. Gautama Buddha said, “Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened.” Be the candle that always burns bright.
What ideas do you have for creating a more loving world? How do your philanthropic goals mirror your personal development goals? Describe one self-improvement intention you set for yourself this year.