“She felt like doing her part to change the world, so she started by giving thanks for all the blessings in her life, rather than bemoaning all that was missing from it. Then she complimented her reflection in the mirror instead of criticizing it as she usually did. Next, she walked into her neighborhood and offered her smile to everyone she passed, whether or not they offered theirs to her. Each day she did these things and soon they became habit. Each day she lived with more gratitude, more acceptance, more kindness and, sure enough, the World around her began to change because she had decided so – she was single-handedly doing her part to change it.”Scott Stabile
Accountability has taught us that if we want something we must first DO something in order to get it. In order to get good grades, we have to study. In order to earn a paycheck, we must get a job and go to work. In order to become fit, we must exercise regularly. And if we want to have clean clothes to wear, we must first be willing to do the laundry.
It sounds so elementary, but there is a growing trend that’s seeking to defy that logic – where people not only believe that they deserve certain privileges which they haven’t actually earned but, no matter how much they get, they constantly feel like the world still owes them more. This sense of entitlement leads to so much negativity in our world. Greed, jealousy, obsession, compulsion, and a never ending sense of emptiness – like a gaping void that can never be filled or an appetite that can never be satisfied.
We have all been impatient or witnessed ignorance and impatience when standing in line. We’ve all, at some point in our lives, been on the giving and/or receiving end of “road rage”. We’ve all had “places to go and people to see” and days when we’re running late, becoming frustrated, and succumb to the stress of a situation we’ve most likely created for ourselves in our own minds. In moments like this, we sometimes tend to take it out on those around us. As the joke often goes: “Everyone faster than me is crazy, and everyone slower than me is a jerk.”
If accountability feels like an attack to someone, they are not yet ready to acknowledge their own behavior. So, if that sounds like you, then maybe you should stop reading my blogs because they are all about honesty, accountability, authenticity, and personal growth. I often chronicle the highs and lows of my own personal journey through this life because I, too, am a work in progress. I, too, desire to live my life in happiness and peace. And I, too, have things I need to consciously work on, day after day, in order to maintain my own positivity and peace.
All of these analogies aren’t really about dirty dishes or laundry anyway. They’re not about speed limits or other drivers either. They’re about whatever is brewing beneath the surface – the rage, the animosity towards others, the entitlement, the greed, the self-centeredness, and the general preoccupation with our own desires at the expense of others.
Mindfulness highlights our accountability for our own inner peace. We can’t live a positive life with a negative attitude, just like we can’t expect to have food in the fridge if we don’t go shopping for groceries.
We understand that if we want clean plates to eat off of, we must first wash the dishes – similarly, if you want to go faster than another driver in front of you out on the roads, then you can peaceably go around them. It doesn’t matter who you think is right or wrong, because if you have the expectation that the world should run according to you, then THAT is the real source of your misery, not the other people in this world or the other drivers on the roads.
We can’t be at war with ourselves and live in peace at the same time, it’s just not possible. Ultimately, if you really want to be happy, without any internal or external conflict, then align your beliefs with your words and actions. It’s the only way to be truly happy – and nobody else can do it for you.
If you want “the world” to change, you must first be willing to change yourself. This is the one and only time when it all really does begin and end with YOU.