Leo Tolstoy once said, “Everyone wants to change the world, but no one wants to change themselves.”. When I first heard this quote, I was immediately struck by the realization that I was neck deep in the not wanting to change myself camp. The more I contemplated what this quote means at a deeper level, it suddenly dawned on me; If you change yourself, you change the world! From that moment forward, I began to watch myself closely, looking at the things that frustrated me, things I wanted to change outside of me, and I watched how my ego behaved and latched on to things that polarize us. I began to shift my perspective and step back from things that separated us. But all this was done within me, I needed to test my new theory and see what the impact would be outside of me.
Like many introverts, my office at work was pretty sparsely decorated. Very little about me was there. I kept that part hidden since the story I told myself was that no one would accept or like the real me in this place. For years I continued with this story, wearing the mask I thought I needed to wear, and hiding my true self. It was to be here that I would conduct my experiment, and see what could happen when I choose to change. In this case it was from who I was pretending to be, to who I really am. Not to give away too much, but the outcome was even more amazing than I could possibly have imagined. The task was not too difficult. I brought in some personal decorations, customized my screen saver, and no longer evaded questions about my spiritual beliefs when asked. In addition, I wanted to bring a part of me that I was passionate about to my workplace, and I knew just the way to do it.
If you know anything about me at all, you know my passion is to teach others what I have learned. So, what better way to bring this to my workplace, then to have Lunch and Learns where I talk about various topics such as Meditation and Mindfulness, Stress, Healthy Living, Herbalism and Supplements, etc. Thankfully my boss was very open minded to such topics, and the wellness group also thought it would be a great idea.
Therefore, over the next year I gave over 15 talks during lunch to crowds anywhere from 20-50 people. Frankly I was blown away by the results. In doing these, I had found others with similar passions, we had great discussions and inspired each other to do even more. My professional network increased and improved, and people started to stop me in the hallway to ask questions or just share a story. Somehow, I was inspiring people, and I did it by just doing what I love. By just becoming the real me, not only did my life improve, but others benefited as well. It literally was contagious.
I was convinced. Improving yourself and living as your true self, had a profound impact on those around me, and it did not stop there. My co-workers took this energy and passion home to their families, and it help shift their family members as well. Some even spread it to their friends. Think about what would happen if even 25% of the world lived this way. Instead of debating polarizing ideas, perhaps we could come together collectively to listen and work to find a cooperative solution. This idea has become such a core to my belief systems that I have changed how I look at the world in a myriad of ways. I don’t seek to change others, and I try not to take sides as I seek to understand both. Instead I focus on me, and what I can do to improve, to become the best version of myself. I don’t always succeed, but I am always trying. We all know the saying, “Leave the world a better place then you found it”. I have modified that a bit with a dash of Mr. Tolstoy, “Leave the world a better place then you found it, by leaving this world as a better version of you then when you entered it”.