We can get so focused on the big changes we want to achieve that we can lose sight of the power we have in this moment to bring about change simply by focusing on ourselves for a bit. No, this isn’t selfish. Want more peace and love in the world? Then understand the change starts with having more peace and love in your life – or to be more accurate – being the peace and love you want in your life. There are seven simple steps to achieving this.
1. Get rid of emotional baggage. You are a product of your past but there’s no need to remain a prisoner of it. That failed relationship, your toxic childhood – yes, they have made you a stronger person but are you carrying a legacy of hurt, distrust, anger and resentment or worse, shame? You can’t change what’s happened in the past but you can change the effect it is having on you in the present. If it’s a person who has made you feel like this write a letter – you don’t have to send it but this will help you release the negative feelings and create a sense of completion which will bring emotional peace. Above all, forgive the source of your pain – even if it’s yourself.
2. Don’t pigeonhole yourself. Have you spend years saying ‘I’m just no good at . . (relationships, my job, anything . . . )’? Or ‘I’m just a stupid/angry/volatile person’? If so describing yourself this way tends to become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Change the words you use to describe yourself and then visualize yourself acting according to your new vocabulary. This way you’ll begin to see yourself deal with things differently.
3. Accept that mistakes happen. If you were perfect you wouldn’t be here. We are all here to learn and no single one of us is immune from making mistakes. Even highly evolved souls like the Dali Lama admit they have made mistakes. Often we learn more from them than from our successes. Beating yourself up over a mistake isn’t going to change it. Apologize and then drop it. If you find yourself still dwelling on it, write your mistake down, rationalize without making excuses why it happened, acknowledge who or what was affected and then safely burn the paper. This allows you to acknowledge your mistake, learn from it and then let it go.
4. Relish quiet. We’re surrounded by noise. Other people’s mobile phone conversations and iPods, the background sound of piped music or a TV. When you’re at home do you have to have some kind of noise playing? When you appreciate life’s quiet times you are creating time to reflect on your life without distractions and are able to communicate with those who matter to you on a deeper level when you do see them. Spend an evening listening to the sounds of nature and reprise the art of talking in the evening instead of watching TV!
5. Accept compliments and affection. How many of us hold on to insults and name calling for years but cannot recall the last compliment we received? Or when you are complimented on a new outfit do you shrug it off with a ‘This old thing?’. Next time say ‘Thank you’ when someone compliments you. If you find accepting attention difficult it may be that someone put you down when you were younger. If so – repeat exercise 1!
6. Be grateful. Most spiritual and psychological practices agree – the key to happiness is liking who you are now and counting your blessings. Don’t fixate on what you don’t have – focus on what you do, and above all, don’t compare yourself to others – you are unique. Why would you want to give that away?
7. Live in the moment. Nothing in our lives in guaranteed – sadly relationships go wrong, jobs end and people leave us. If you’re experiencing a ‘Why did this happen?’ period know that it’s part of a mourning process to do this. However, if you’re constantly future projecting about the life you’re going to lead when you manifest your goals then you’re missing the gift of the present (it’s a present – get it!). Enjoy what you have right now – no matter how large or small the gift – a ‘well done’ from your boss, the bark of joy your dog gives when you get home at night, your partner’s smile, a hug from your child. These things are precious and enrich our lives beyond measure. The moment will be gone soon enough!