General Question

Zakat's avatar

In what ways do you personally seek to "be the change you wish to see in the world?"?

Asked by Zakat (415points) January 13th, 2013

I’ve recently been through a pretty tough spot in my life…and in going through what I have, I’ve learned that those things which I placed so much purpose and meaning in were ultimately faulty. A significant other, in my case, is never going to bring me happiness and fulfillment.

Something that might is a life dedicated to living selflessly and compassionately, at least as much as is possible. Because if there’s anything I would like to do with however much time I have left in this world…let’s face it, I’d like to change it for the better. Even if its in small ways that are imperceptible to the masses.

So I’ve been thinking about that bogus Gandhi quote that reminds us all to “be the change we wish to see in the world.” I’m aware that Gandhi never said that exactly…but it makes for a nice jumping-off point.

How do you personally seek to live more selflessly and compassionately?

There’s always the possibility that you don’t care one bit about living that way, I know. But that’s why this question is in General. Hehe.

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23 Answers

Sunny2's avatar

I try to be kind and friendly to everyone I meet. I succeed about 95% of the time.

Zakat's avatar

@Sunny2 Good for you. In my honest experience I probably succeed far less than that. Room for improvement, I guess. But yes, in my experience a compassionate life begins with the simple things.

YARNLADY's avatar

I click on every day and I urge every computer user to do the same to help end world hunger

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@YARNLADY Thank you. I’ve added that to my top sites to visit on a daily basis.

@Zakat I am soon to start job training to work with people just like me who also have a mental illness. I will be helping them get started on their journeys toward living a wholesome and fulfilling life. I’ll be teaching little things about daily routines of taking medicine and what not. It’s not an important job, but I will be part of the network of support for some of the people society quickly forgets about.

SABOTEUR's avatar

I’m reminded of a light parable. It tells of the teacher who asks the students in her class to be silent. The students began telling each other to “be quiet”, which immediately created the opposite effect. Each student failed to realize that if he concerned himself about what he was supposed to be doing, the teacher’s request would have been immediately granted.

You become what you wish to see in others.

Which reminds me of another little story. A zen story, I think. I don’t remember the story verbatim, but It concerned a mother who traveled many miles for many days to seek the help of a wise man to get her young son to stop smoking.

Upon hearing the request, the wise man agreed to help and advised the woman to return in six months. The mother was very weary from traveling such a great distance, but she loved her son and wanted desperately for him to stop smoking, so she did as the wise man requested.

The mother returned home and repeated the long journey back six months later. The wise man greeted the mother, telling her he was prepared to help her with her son.

The wise man solemnly looks upon the woman’s son and says,

“Stop smoking.”

The mother, needless to say became extremely upset. Why, she demanded, did the wise man make her travel such a great distance if the only thing he intended to do was tell the boy to stop smoking.


To this, the wise man replied,

“Six months ago I was a smoker.”

SABOTEUR's avatar

I try not to seek.

I find that seeking becomes a never ending process of never accepting or never appreciating what you have now.

If time is an endless succession of “now moments” and you’re never satisfied with “now”, what assurance do you have that you’ll be satisfied with whatever change that occurs?

And then there’s always the possibility that the change you desire does occur, but the result turns out to be something quite different from what you expected.

Something to think about…

lightsourcetrickster's avatar

I was going to put several stories together in one massive essay but I must try not to write massive amounts of stuff.
Basically random acts of kindness are great. They may not always be paid forward from one stranger to the next, but it’s nice to know it can make a difference to someone you have no clue about.

True story though (thereby contradicting my first sentence enbloodytirely, lol) I happened to go to a small out of the way quiet pub for a pint one afternoon and read one of those things that the journalists like to call a newspaper, I’m pretty sure it’s called a comic – no sorry – it’s a tabloid…yes a tabloid…anyway, there was an article in this er…paper….whereby several people were asked to perform random acts of kindness. Most of the recipients of those acts of random kindness treated it with suspicion. Such is the damage caused by the changes in society that people cannot be genuinely kind towards one another, regardless as to whether or not that kindness was set as a task or challenge. Sad really.

SABOTEUR's avatar

@lightsourcetrickster Purchased flowers for my wife last Valentine’s day. Stopped at the supermarket and found a flower arrangement I liked better than the arrangement I just purchased from the florist. I bought it, but now I have a flower arrangement I don’t need.

I spent the next 20 minutes trying to give the extra flower arrangement away.

If my life had depended on me accomplishing that task, I’d be dead today.

But still, random acts of kindness are wonderful in many ways. The most obvious immediate effect is they make you feel good as well as the recipient.

Kardamom's avatar

I’m a vegetarian.
I try to pay it forward.
I recycle.
I make small talk with folks who look lonely or sad or bored, on the bus, in the grocery store or in line, anywhere.
I try to live frugaly and consciously.
I’m nice to people and kind to animals.
I try to educate people without insulting them or hurting them. When that doesn’t work, I just shut up and do the best I can, whether or not other people give two shits.
I help my neighbors, whenever I can. Whether it’s taking them hot soup or helping them with their trash cans, or babysitting their pets.
I try to call my long distance friends regularly.
I try to thank everyone who has given me a gift, and even some folks who have given me a gift that they are unaware of.
I try to make sure my house is clean, even if I’m tired and don’t want to vacuum.
I try to lighten the load of my loved ones, even if that means I need to get up early, drive a long distance, or spend some time doing something I ordinarily wouldn’t have been doing, except for my loved one’s need. (And you never know what that might entail, so be prepared for anything). And when I say loved one, I mean parents, siblings, neices and nephews, cousins, aunts and uncles, and friends.
I do the best I can.

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Pachy's avatar

I try my best to pay forward the knowledge and experience I’ve gained and the kindness that has been shown me.

augustlan's avatar

I try my best to be a moral and compassionate person and, more importantly, I’m raising three great kids to be moral and compassionate people, too. I believe in the ‘ripple effect’, where the small things you do can spread ever wider, so my ultimate hope is that they will go out into the world and spread that around.

mattbrowne's avatar

I use the suggestion of the book “Search Inside Yourself: The Unexpected Path to Achieving Success, Happiness and World Peace” written by Google’s software engineer Chade-Meng Tan.

nofurbelowsbatgirl's avatar

First I try giving back where it’s needed.

Every morning I wake up and work on me so I can (give my time to things that need it) and exercise and I spend that time with my two bff’s ever, my dogs.

I really care about the misplaced, misused, abused regardless of it being a person, place or thing. It is so much to a point that I believe it is my calling on earth to help save them.

I am an interior decorator, fitting right, I even restore and save deteriorating buildings. So I call myself the “restorer”, but it doesn’t just fit for my paying job (well my lack of paying job at the moment) this restoring part of me goes out and tries to fix animals, people, earth anything I think I can give a better life to. Some people heal, some people are helpers, I try to do it all.

My biggest failure for saving was my husband, so now since he passed I feel I owe him and this idea has kicked into overdrive.

I just realized a few days ago that since my part of the town is filthy I need to save the earth from litter…I know of course I can’t save the earth but I can do my part. :)

Once I make up my mind I pretty much don’t give up. 4yrs ago I decided to save the dogs from obesity, we started walking I’m so into it we never get a break, I do not miss a day, rain, snow, only weather that can kill me stops me. I’ve saved the dogs though. My lab was 102lbs my Shepard was 96lbs & they are now a slim, trim and fit 66lbs, they both weigh that exactly! They are 8 & 9 and act like years younger now :))

LostInParadise's avatar

My good deed for today is to help spread the word about time exchanges, which I just learned about. See here and here

What I like about the time exchange idea is that it functions on a community level. It removes some of the awkwardness of helping a stranger and facilitates interaction across class levels. The idea that everyone’s time is of equal value does not carry over well for the general economy but works well at an individual level.

Coloma's avatar

Wanting to make a difference is ego at work, the best “difference” we can make is to know ourselves, our unique gifts and go forth from there, simply being what we are without attachment to recognition.
I am gifted with a great sense of humor, charm and the ability to make others feel at ease.
I am told often that I have “made someones day” with my humorous, offbeat and cheery personality.

I’m a natural born comedienne and love to make people laugh.
I also live in a rural mountain setting and take great joy in my little green acres being a refuge for wildlife and a pesticide and herbicide free bit of the planet.

tranquilsea's avatar

I ended the cycle of abuse that started in my childhood with my parents by always striving to parent in a way that provided support and guidance without smothering.

KNOWITALL's avatar

I try to be kind to others, it get’s easier as I get older, too.

KeepYourEyesWideOpen's avatar

I treat most people as equals as far as they deserve it. But really that’s about it. There’s a lot of things that prevent me from being the true change I wish to see.

fremen_warrior's avatar

@Coloma “if everyone took care of themselves, everyone’d be taken care of” ;-) Kudos for taking kare of Koloma’s Krazy Kritters :P

As for me, I will follow @SABOTEUR‘s example and explain what I do via a zen koan:
In short I try not to resist reality, trying to adapt an ”is that so?” attitude of compassionate indifference.

I have come to realize that what makes the world unhappy is people’s expectations of how things “should” be. If I learn to let go of my expectations, I will be free of frustration, and ultimately content – not happy, content, because I think happiness is just an upswing on a scale, and therefore cannot last, and has to lead to a down swing, hence balance is key. Content is the new happy.

If I can be content, the world has one less angry critter to worry about – that’s my contribution.

Coloma's avatar

@fremen_warrior Agreed 100%. Contentment is the only form of sustainable “happiness.”

burntbonez's avatar

I never heard that until fairly recently. It actually characterizes my life fairly well.

wundayatta's avatar

With compassion to most, and asshattery to those who give it to me.

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