Being the Light
Being the light we want to shine all around us is difficult. But I sincerely believe it’s everyone’s calling. Ghandi phrased this mantra differently. “Be the change you want to see in the world,” he famously said. And no truer words have ever been spoken. If we want things to be different, it has to start with us. Each and every one of us.
Wishing and hoping that others or circumstances will change is inherently frustrating. For one thing, we have no power over other people, places, and things. We only have power over ourselves. And even then, our hangups generally hold us back. Still, we have the power to choose and to act. So, if we want the world to be full of light, it has to start with us.
Sadly, I’ve know too many folks who sank into depression because the change they sought eluded them. But perhaps more sadly, I know that their depression resulted because of where they were looking for change: without instead of within. Spending time and energy yearning for things you haven’t power over only breeds feelings of helplessness. And helplessness can easily morph into hopelessness, then depression. (See also: Helplessness Need Not Become Hopelessness.) There’s no light there, only darkness. But when we refocus, on the light within, and make the decision to let it shine no matter what, everything begins to change, including this often dreary, weary world.
The behavioral “formula” for depression is focusing on what we can’t control. (See: pp. 144-145 in In Sheep’s Clothing and p.140 in How Did We End Up Here?). Accordingly, the behavioral formula for joy is focusing attention, time, energy, etc., where we have ultimate power: our behavior. While the formula is simple, it’s not easy to put into practice, especially when we’re already stuck in an emotional rut. Still, it’s the formula, not only for our own healing but also for the world’s.
If ever there were a time for being the light we want to see in the world it’s now. We’ve been in a period of substantial darkness. But it appears the light is beginning to shine again. It started in the hearts of a few and is spreading. Its continued spread depends on all of us. So, please, be the light.
Darkness can never overcome the light within. It doesn’t have that kind of power. Only our wrongful focus can snuff it out. And that’s an easy trap. There are many bad actors out there. And they and their behavior invite us to focus externally. That exacts a heavy price. But there is a way out. Look within instead. Embrace what you find. Then, share it and the joy that comes with it whenever and wherever you can. Let’s brighten up this darkened world, okay? And let’s do it like it was always meant to be done: one heart at a time, starting with our own.