So you want to change the world.
You’re not alone.
Deep down, I think most people want to have a positive impact on society and make the world a better place for themselves and others. But it can seem like you need a lot of money to make significant changes, like Bill Gates or Elon Musk. Maybe you think things like, “I could never do that,” or “I’m not good enough.”
Good news! You can change the world. You just have to think about it differently.
1. Focus on Your World
There’s a popular quote by Ghandi that was proudly displayed on the wall of a museum I worked at for a couple of years. I saw it every day, and it’s the place to start:
“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”
But “THE WORLD” is a pretty huge place. Even people who change the world are only changing part of the planet.
So instead of thinking of THE world, work to think of it as your world. Although we’re all on the same planet, we all actually do live in our own little world.
My experience is different from your experience. Even if we had been born at the same time to the same parents, my perception would still be different from your perception.
When you think of changing the world, start with your world. Each and every one of us has our own, determined by our unique perceptions and experience.
When we think of the world as the entirety of planet Earth, it’s just too much. There’s too many choices. And when we have too much, it results in decision paralysis. If we want to change the world, it’s easy to feel like we don’t know where to start.
So I’m going to give you a place to start: you.
2. Create a Better World by Changing Your Perception of it
I’m going to tell you a secret. But you have to promise not to share it.
Ok, here it is. Remember, you promised.
You are the most important person in the world and you are completely unique.
You may have just said, “No, I’m not!” in your head.
Maybe you have kids or a spouse that you feel is more important. Guess what?
They’re the most important person in their world, too.
Each of us in the most important person in our world. We’re the only person with our exact perceptions, values, experiences, and beliefs, and we’re the only person we have control over. We’re each the main character in our own movie.
And if we don’t like our movie, we can change it.
It’s like all of us wear special glasses that determine how we see reality. Some people see good in everything, while some people think the world is an awful place. Through some glasses people think it’s ok to kill others who are different from they are, and with other glasses people see others with compassion.
These glasses are made up of our beliefs.
Some beliefs are helpful, like “I’m a fast learner,” or “I’m a kind person.” Others limit us like, “I’m not good enough,” or “I’m a failure.”
All of these beliefs can be changed.
One belief that is prevalent is the one I mentioned above: “The world is an awful place.”
This belief is easy to change, as are many others if you’re willing to do some work.
Our brains actually have a Negativity Bias – we naturally look for the problems, the bad stuff, the stuff that sticks out. Evolving that way has kept us alive. Coupled with Confirmation Bias – we look for evidence to confirm our beliefs and ignore the rest – it can also make us miserable.
So to start changing your world into one that’s much happier to be in, you train yourself to start actively looking for the good in your world – in your life (for any self-limiting belief you have, you can always decide to look for the exceptions) One way to do this is to start practicing more gratitude. Starting up something as simple as a gratitude journal can help your world become a happier place.
Speaking of worlds…
3. Learn to Accept the Worlds of Others
We might each live in our own little world, but that doesn’t mean they’re separate from each other. Our worlds are intertwined – they’re interdependent with each other. And when each of our worlds meet, problems can come up.
Part of this is because we often don’t realize that our world, our perceptions, are just our own – they don’t belong to anyone else. Without realizing it, we often try to push our world, and our beliefs and our perceptions, onto others.
Parents do this with their children. Some worse than others when they tell a child what they can – or can’t be – when they grow up, such as the parent that tells their child they have to be a doctor or a lawyer when the child wants to be an artist.
We even do it with our friends when we chime in with advice they didn’t ask for. We even gossip behind people’s backs when they make a decision they don’t agree with. This comes up a lot in politics – one group thinks that their way is the best way, and they work to push that point of view on others.
But that’s all it is – a point of view. It’s their perception, their world. And often, we don’t respect the worlds of others.
Don Miguel Ruiz, author of The Four Agreements, says, “I am responsible for what I say, you are responsible for what you hear.”
We can only be responsible for our actions – our world – and not for the world of others. This isn’t an excuse to act like a jerk, but if someone has a belief that is not my belief, I have few choices. I can take it personally and get angry about it, but I can also respect it without choosing to believe in it.
A child can make a decision to be an artist. The response of others to that, maybe responses like, “You can’t make money at that,” or “You’ll never be very good,” are purely the responsibility of those people.
The difficulty occurs when we belief the worlds of those people are actually our own, and then we shift our beliefs to match their beliefs without thinking about it.
Accepting the worlds of other people doesn’t mean to believe them. It just means to acknowledge them, accept them, and let them move on without being caught up in them.
Other people are also not responsible for your world. Your world includes your actions, or emotions… your happiness, your anger, even your fear.
If you give responsibility of these away to others, you’re falling into a victim mindset. So decide to take responsibility – take control.
It’s your world. The question is: what kind of world do you want it to be?