I read a post on LinkedIn this week that connected principles of Ghandi’s life to whether or not they are still relevant to today’s global economics. Then others later asked, “are all these principles actually practiced?” and “What ideas do you have to bring the vision into a broader reality (vs. nice ideas on a poster)?”
I decided to return to this thread to respond, and to share on a much more personal level, after all, it comes down to how I live, not how someone else lives.
So here are my answers, and if you are brave enough to make yourself vulnerable maybe you’ll share your personal responses in the comment box below as well. I’d love to know your thoughts and to see how you are changing your corner of the world.
1. Change yourself. “You must be the change you want to see in the world.” “As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world – that is the myth of the atomic age – as in being able to remake ourselves.”
My Response: Consistently evolving is a constant in my life no matter how inconsistent I may feel about it on certain days.
2. You are in control. “Nobody can hurt me without my permission.”
My Response: After losing friends to murder and watching a relative continually attacked as a kid, I acknowledge that people can always hurt my physical body beyond my control, but God says they can never harm my spirit. I understand Ghandi’s principle here and I agree 100%. Do I live it? Yes, MOST of the time, but as the saying goes, ‘when emotions go up, intelligence goes down’ so anything that triggers strong emotions can make it more challenging. Keeping my thoughts pure and positive helps me to maintain control over my emotions.
3. Forgive and let it go. “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.”
My Response: Ah yes, the biggest challenge for any human because we are taught to intellectually forgive without forgetting. But to do it from the heart and never bring back the sin is unique. The last time I was deeply hurt it took many days to let it go, where it use to take months sometimes years. I am getting much better at the practice of forgiveness.
4. Without action you aren’t going anywhere. “An ounce of practice is worth more than tons of preaching.”
My Response: I take daily action to progress forward. Sometimes I progress toward something and sometimes it’s away from something, but either way I am leading myself and/or others with my every action. If I get stuck then I need to reframe my actions or thoughts. It is not my desire to lead anyone TO the water, or to make them drink, it IS my desire to make them thirsty enough to want to a drink, and lead themselves toward finding it.
5. Take care of this moment. “I do not want to foresee the future. I am concerned with taking care of the present. God has given me no control over the moment following.”
My Response: To master this has been a dream of mine since I was young, but particularly after my brain/spine injury. It meant I had to practice listening to whomever, whenever and wherever I was at the time. It took focus and sometimes sheer determination. I love to feel I’ve been successful as I reflect on this one principle, but every now and then someone or something comes along to remind me I still have a long way to go.
6. Everyone is human. “I claim to be a simple individual liable to err like any other fellow mortal. I own, however, that I have humility enough to confess my errors and to retrace my steps.” “It is unwise to be too sure of one’s own wisdom. It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err.”
My Response: Several years ago I decided that the next time I wanted to judge or criticize someone else I would look back at myself to see when, or where, I may have done something similar. This one choice takes me back to forgiveness, and a realization I am no different than they are. Only my choices were different at the time. This makes forgiveness much easier.
7. Persist. “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”
My Response: Now this one is my favorite! I’ve been ignored, I’ve been laughed at, I’ve been through the fight, so I now get to experience the wins!
8. See the good in people and help them. “I look only to the good qualities of men. Not being faultless myself, I won’t presume to probe into the faults of others.” “Man becomes great exactly in the degree in which he works for the welfare of his fellow-men.”
My Response: I use to have LOTS of trouble with this, but not any longer when I choose to see people through God’s eyes rather than my own. In doing so, I am able to show grace and mercy. Thats when compassion flows like Niagra Falls. I’m not kidding.
9. Be congruent, be authentic, be your true self. “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” “Always aim at complete harmony of thought and word and deed. Always aim at purifying your thoughts and everything will be well.”
My Response: What I think and what I do are in harmony but there are sometimes incongruent ideas and messages that appear when you 1) depend on others to help you put them out to the world and 2) when you haven’t had enough sleep. I am certainly authentic – much to the horror of my teenage daughter and possibly my husband, but if you want my opinion on something just ask. I will certainly be forthcoming. And yes, having ‘pure’ thoughts is something I consistently work at. Old habits try to return from an impure world often, but they no longer have a foothold in my life when I focus on the strength of being true to myself.
10. Continue to grow and evolve. “Constant development is the law of life, and a man who always tries to maintain his dogmas in order to appear consistent drives himself into a false position.”
My Response: Not a problem! Change is my middle name.
So thanks for asking the question that made me take a few moments to ponder whether or not I uphold these principles. We would all do well to spend a few moments reflecting on ourselves rather than on the world. Care to take a moment of your time to reflect and respond?