How Do We Make The World Better?
by Jenny Leigh Hodgins
With all the tragedies going on today in our troubled society, I think that one of the most important things we can do to make the world a better place is to become happy.
Alongside developing our potential and reaching our uniquely personal dreams, encouraging others along the way to do the same can only make things better.
I think that world peace begins not only at home but essentially from a much more focused space—within each of our hearts.
EXAMINING MY RESPONSE
For me, based on my Buddhist practice and using its humanistic philosophy as a guide, part of my journey to experience absolute happiness is doing the work to overcome my prejudices and judgments. My starting point is examining my response to the tragedies, corruption, and polar opposite ideologies in the world around me.
DOING THE WORK IS KEY
Now that I especially and clearly understand that there are many perspectives opposing mine, doing the work to respect others is both transformative and key to improve my happiness and become part of the path to a more peaceful society.
UNITY VERSES DIVISION
I want to be a force for unity, not division. I want to base my actions on respect for life—not on judgments about behaviors or actions. Rather than promoting disrespect and divisiveness, I want to learn to fully and deeply listen—with the spirit of respect and toward unity.
I'm not saying this is easy. For me, at least, this inner work is both grueling and requires my greatest efforts to resist responding to external challenges with my negativity.
START WITH BEING A PART OF THE SOLUTION
But I want to be part of the solution. That means I have to self-reflect and master my mind toward the goal of happiness for myself and others.
I’m learning that I can only be part of the solution, contribute to unity, and lead with mutual respect if I have done my work on myself. This translates into more self-care.
SELF-CARE FUELS POSITIVITY IN THE WORLD
Doing what it takes for me to be at my best allows me to view the challenges of today’s troubled community with greater compassion, energy, and wisdom. We can listen, act, and contribute in a more positive way when we first tackle our individual needs.
A MICRO-PERSONAL TO MACRO-COMMUNITY APPROACH
There is much work to be done through social services, economic recovery, and improvements through policies on a larger scale.
Those conversations and movements are necessary and must be viewed from long-range and incremental efforts. We each choose the causes that mean the most to us and where we feel we can make our impact.
WHERE DOES REAL IMPACT START?
But I hold firm the idea that the real impact comes from grassroots, life-to-life connections, and initially, within one heart at a time.
How can we be part of a positive solution or contribute to a more harmonious society without first addressing our individual wellness?
Consider what we bring to the table if we have fully cared for and maintained our inner condition. Imagine the impact across diverse viewpoints when we initiate honest, earnest work toward our personal character as a starting point.
We can be part of the greater goal for peaceful existence when we first start from within our hearts. This kind of self-care approach emboldens our spiritual and mental strength, positions us toward a greater openness to authentic listening, and being a positive influence on others.
What are your thoughts?
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MY NATURE-INSPIRED PHOTO ESSAY SERIES:
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by Jenny Leigh Hodgins
My podcast (check it out here) and blogs sometimes feature various creators about their creative process. Like many creators, I feel creativity is as natural to me as breathing air. I cannot live without it.
As a creative person, in sync with my brand's overall theme of nurturing creativity and inspiration, I'd like to personally share something from my creative side with you.
In interviews, I often ask creators what inspires them. Here's something that inspires me.
This reminds me of The Wizard Of Oz behind the curtain, furiously spinning those wheels to keep things afloat. But honestly, if you pull back the curtain on me, you'll find me most naturally immersed in writing words or music, or doing something visual with nature photos as a way of daily creative expression.
Today, I'd like to share one of my poems with you. Through my poem below, I share some of my personal inspirations; my Buddhist practice, and my mentor in faith--writer, poet, peace leader Daisaku Ikeda. Ikeda's writings have and continue to be an enormous source of encouragement for my life and my creative flow.
I wrote the following poem as a kind of appreciative reply to my mentor's incredibly wise, compassionate, generous guidance.
In the poem I share here, I refer to climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. This is about my battle against my weakness and toward bettering myself as a more compassionate, stronger human.
As a practicing SGI Buddhist* for 34 years, the concept of 'human revolution' is part of my daily practice. It equates with a polishing of the self toward becoming the best person I can be.
This poem expresses the process of and responsibility for developing the Greater Self. Most specifically in regard to fighting against negative tendencies, and toward deepening faith in both myself and the good in others. Especially when it's hard to do so.
Thanks for letting me share with you in this personal way. I hope you enjoy my poem:
Listen to the podcast here.
If you enjoyed this post, please show your love with a LIKE, or by sharing this blog with others.
Let me know what you think below by leaving a comment, or ask me a question! Thanks for joining me here today!
by Jenny Leigh Hodgins
It's easy for any of us to be defeated by our problems. Whether they are big or small doesn't matter. They're our problems and because of that, they can seem tailor-designed to knock us down.
Someone recently asked me how to overcome their problems. Regardless of specifics, when faced with difficulty, having the attitude to work toward a solution or win victory, is the first step to creating forward momentum.
I praised this person for having the desire to find a way through their challenges.
The Buddhist philosophy I practice has taught me that struggles are actually precious treasures to appreciate. We can actually use them as stepping stones to deeper happiness, solid inner strength and an awakening to our inherent wisdom. All this personal expansion leads to experiencing a rich, more fulfilled life.
The conversation with the person who asked for my help reminded me that I need to repeatedly polish my attitude and actions toward the challenges in my life.
I've learned that developing a determined spirit to win over difficulties is powerful. No matter what the problem is, having that spirit to keep fighting is itself the key to victory. It’s when we lose hope, or stop believing in our vast potential to achieve or transform anything, that problems get the better of us.
There are many things we can do to deal with our problems. But without the mindset toward winning ultimate victory, the results may prove less than satisfactory.
In other words, we can take plenty of action, but if we still hold doubt in our hearts about ourselves or our desired positive outcome, we diminish our results.
You Get Stronger Through Challenging A Problem
If we first work on strengthening the attitude behind our actions, we stand a greater chance of overcoming the problem or reaching a goal. Actions we take are only part of the solution or winning strategy.
Equally as valuable is the inner strength we forge by enduring the problem state.
As long as we resolve never to give up on ourselves, every problem actually can serve as a springboard toward improving ourselves and our quality of life. Building a strong inner intent ultimately manifests in taking wise action. This is the basis for creating a happier environment, and advancing our personal growth.
Plus, the added perk of solving our problem.
Be Like Einstein; Stay Longer
There’s an Einstein quote I love that goes, "It's not that I'm so smart, it's just that I stay with problems longer."
Problems can function as beneficial to our lives because they push us into the proverbial corner until we learn to strengthen our belief in the unlimited potential within ourselves and humanity.
Problems can force us to work harder to mine that golden potential. Perhaps if we didn't experience our difficulties, we'd never make the kind of effort necessary to uncover our full abilities.
The fact is that we all have problems. Our capacity to overcome these is infinite. And by winning over them, we give others incredible hope to do the same.
Let's continue seeking ways to overcome our problems. In that sense, we are already winning.
By the way, my photo essay, How To Use Difficulties To Inspire Appreciation & Creativity, touches on this same point. I hope it encourages you and others reading this!
Thank you for showing your love of my content with a LIKE or by sharing this blog with others. Leave your comment or ask a question below.
Spiritual Muscle; How To Develop Yours
by Jenny Leigh Hodgins
People think I have a large life. My energy commands a room. But it’s not intentional. In fact, sometimes I think I have two personalities.
And, no, I'm not schizophrenic.
I developed my exterior confidence through my job as a music educator, and my role as a Buddhist facilitator. Directing, leading and teaching large groups of people performing music, and facilitating faith-based activities with diverse groups provided abundant training.
When I’ve had the opportunity to lead, there was no room for ego or attention to myself. There was a task to do. I’ve honed that skill to focus on the task at hand without regard to my personal feelings.
I appreciate this skill.
It enabled me to achieve more as a teacher, chorus conductor, faith leader and performing musician. It allowed me to see beyond myself and do more than I would have otherwise envisioned had I stopped to ponder my capability.
Battling An Attack of Self-Doubt
On the flip side, my alter-ego is debilitatingly shy and constantly fighting doubt. Through sheer life experience and in particular debt to my SGI-USA Buddhist philosophy, I’ve managed to function well—beyond my insecurity.
But it relentlessly attacked me when least expected with insomnia. Even when I thought I’d confronted my inner demons, fear and doubt insidiously assaulted my thoughts until the wee hours of morning.
I’d combat it with my intellect, of course. I spoke to myself with a voice of calmness about reality and fool-proof strategies to turn away my inner demons. I distracted myself with reading, deep breathing and imagery of relaxed, happy visions.
I chanted my Buddhist mantra while attempting to empty the barrage of negativity swirling in my brain. I got out of bed and stretched. I wrote my thoughts in my journal. I fought the battle until 3am, despite exhaustion.
Finally, I’d drift off for about three hours of rest.
In the morning, it would all seem perfectly stupid. In the light of day, my evening struggle seemed like a mirage. Except that I was depleted for two days afterwards.
Making Headway By Forging Inner Strength
This darkness beat at my inner doors all my life. I’ve dramatically lessened the effects of it. It used to cause such stomach-upset agony I couldn’t function beyond bed-rest. It caused me to develop respiratory issues. I had no stamina against this demon.
I continued consistently battling it from the inside out with my determined prayer. I forced myself through the exact experiences that caused me anxiety, repeatedly. I forged directly through anxiety until I incrementally gained strength over it.
I no longer have those anxiety attacks that shook my whole body with nausea or stomach pain. I no longer get respiratory illness or stage fright. I have no qualms about public speaking, performing, or facilitating. I've led hundreds of groups as a music educator and chorus conductor, performed in front of thousands as a vocalist/pianist, and spoken in front of countless audiences from musical to community events, from weddings to funerals and beyond.
I don’t worry about what people think of me anymore. All those battles forged my strength and grew my confidence.
As Eleanor Roosevelt said, “You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, 'I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.'
Notably, when I’m striving to reach a personal goal, or break through to a new level of success in any aspect of my life, my doubts rear their ugliness to challenge me.
That’s how I know I’m on the right track.
A Strong Opponent Builds Your Spiritual Muscle
My Buddhist practice confirms this is a sign of my inner growth; I’m pushing myself beyond comfort and growing my capacity larger than before. There should be some fear or doubt because...I’m human. I’m tackling new and bold territory.
I’m on to these twin evils (fear and doubt). They appear so I may open the path to my future with my true essence—my inner power fueled by belief in the human heart. My heart.
There’s resistance so I may develop spiritual muscle. These most powerful opponents enable me to forge my full potential. Anything easy would not warrant a victory celebration.
I wage on—with a resolute vow to never give up until I win absolute victory over every new challenge. I know it is always a test of my faith. A chance for me to see how my determined prayer—starting from the inner realm—manifests in tangible, conspicuous external proof, based on the interconnectedness of life.
I just have to do the inner work first.
Take that, doubt and fear. Take THAT.
I'd LOVE to hear from you. Please share your thoughts in the comments below. Thank you for liking and sharing this blog with someone who may benefit from the information.
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by Jenny Leigh Hodgins
Change Requires Taking A Leap Of Faith
A chat with a close friend this week was so enlightening and helpful I want to share it. This friend has been by my side through thick and thin for the past 18 months.
She was there as I resigned my music ed position, sold my Florida home, and moved back to my home state (Kentucky) to be in place as Mom’s caregiver. (My two sisters helped Mom through our father’s battle with cancer. He passed away 5 years ago. I determined to help with Mom as needed.)
I took a major leap of faith to make this huge transition into launching a second career as a 50+ single woman. I’m pursuing my lifelong dream to be a professional writer, composer, and online product and course creator.
It hasn’t been easy. I’ve had numerous unexpected obstacles. People have disappointed me. I’ve made mistakes. Some things failed entirely.
When Your Closest Friends Are Fear And Doubt
During my journey for the past year and a half, my closest companions were my overwhelming self-doubt and fear. My tendency toward insomnia escalated dramatically from my nightly battle against anxiety.
The switch from a steady teaching job to being a caregiver and entrepreneur raised my deepest doubts. This constantly interfered with my sleep patterns and stunted my wisdom to make decisive, appropriate business decisions. I often felt paralyzed with fear of failure.
I’ve discussed my fears repeatedly with the friend mentioned above. As I’ve wrestled my negative feelings head-on, I’ve pulled out all the stops for the solution to win over them. I’m gratefully making tremendous progress with overcoming insomnia, and with winning over my angst.
Fear Reveals Your Courage
I’d like to share some of the things that are working for me, as they may be useful to you. First I want to point out how my friend illuminated things for me; She said that the fact I’ve battled so strongly with fear is an indication of my courage. I wouldn’t even have my courage, without my fear.
That pierced my heart with hope as it made me realize how much I’ve been challenging myself to grow beyond my comfort zone! If I had stayed in my secure job, in my comfy home, and didn’t choose to tackle the responsibility of being my parent’s caregiver or go after my dream as an online entrepreneur and creator, that fear would not appear in my life.
Your Fear Proves Your Growth
If I’d remained where I was 2 years ago, I’d be “safe.” But I wouldn’t be developing my potential or expanding my happiness.
It’s important to remember that when we tackle new adventures, learn new things, or face unexpected difficulties, we are in the fantastic position to transform our lives.
While constant devouring entrepreneurial, self-improvement, and Buddhist literature, I came across the idea that fear is completely natural when launching something new or facing unexpected challenge.
Fear is an indicator of growth. It means we’re going in the right direction, we’re demanding more of our limitless potential.
Find Your Best Self Through The Mirror of Fresh Perspective
Another thing that encouraged the hell out of me, was my friend’s tone of confidence when she mentioned that whatever I do from now will be successful because I’m so capable. We don’t often have the fortune to hear anyone, including ourselves, showering praise for our innate capability.
People don’t tend to mention how inevitable our success will be because of our unique abilities. If anyone does mention it, we often don’t hear it.
Instead, we typically ingrain oodles of negativity from the voices of others. Those old tapes get stuck in our minds, replaying over and over, while the positive encouragement so often gets lost amid that noise.
Hearing my friend’s voice of confidence in me stopped me in my tracks. It made me look at the mirror of my mind with fresh perspective.
The idea of recognizing and trusting in my capacity (talent, wisdom, experience, skill, compassionate energy) nearly shocked me with the reality that I tend to constantly negate my potential.
This led me to immediately ask myself,
“What if I believed in myself as much as my friend believes in me?”
Pretend You Are Amazing
This leads me to concentrate fully on envisioning my life through the lens of self-belief. Even if I have to pretend I’m someone else who believes in me.
I’m not condoning selfishness or ego. Rather, I’m referring to envisioning myself through the perspective of my best qualities.
Defining your qualities may bring up a self-depreciating attitude. But, sometimes what we think are our worst qualities are seen as admirable from someone else’s perspective!
Every tendency of your life has both a negative and positive aspect. Keep pretending that you are amazing, imagining that each trait you possess is functioning in the most positive way.
I’ve learned that if I look for the good in myself and others, I will find it. Even if I feel I must dig deeper to see something positive, it is through that burst of concentrated effort that I uncover value.
The act of searching for that positive value is the process that delivers actual proof and enables progress. In other words, the effort made to win over negativity is the very thing that leads to victory and developing inner strength. The more I use that muscle, the easier it gets, too.
Use Your Gratitude As Fuel For Action
My friend served as a catalyst for my awareness of my courage and capability. This inspires me to do my best to repay my gratitude to people like my dear friend, who encourages my faith, personal development, and success in life and business.
Writing a list in my daily journal of what I appreciate in my life helps remind me why I’m doing what I’m doing. Appreciation is a strong weapon against fear and doubt, too.
When I think of my friend and others who have believed in me, encouraged and supported me in my life, it fuels my determined action. This helps me create momentum to power through fear and doubt.
Focus On The Positive Boosts Drive
Imagining my greatest potential, acknowledging my innate courage, and taking action to repay my debt of gratitude to others are things I now use as focal points going forward. Focusing on the positive, and taking action from that place redirects me away from my negativity.
What we think about becomes our reality. Buddhism teaches the law of cause and effect; What I think or do creates the kind of life I have. My mentor, Buddhist leader and peace activist, Daisaku Ikeda explains, “The reality of your future self is forged by your current action, in your behavior now.”
Defeat Fear With Constant Action
In the past, I’ve allowed my anxiety and self-slander to stunt my progress, or stop me from achieving my goals. Now, I’m actively experiencing how my inner voice determines my external progress. Training myself to think proactively and positively is working.
I take more energetic action, get more accomplished, appreciate myself more, have better moods, and sleep better as a result.
I’ve learned to replace fear with action that is based on positive mindset. I aim to focus on the positive and envision the best outcome as I take action.
But, sometimes I still have to battle my inner demons. Even if I feel doubtful or have anxiety, I find that setting clear daily goals and taking decisive action helps me win over my negative self-talk.
I find that the less time I allow myself to think about my insecurities, and the more I do toward my daily goals, the stronger my inner voice of confidence becomes.
Use Prayer To Transform Your Anxiety
Here’s what’s working for me in my battle against mental angst:
As an SGI Buddhist, I start and end my day with prayer. My mornings start with an hour of Buddhist chanting, during which I set a determination for the day’s success and productivity.
I also use that time to send waves of prayer to others in my life, from family to friends, and you, my online audience.
I resolve to be effective and to fulfill my potential through my daily actions. In the evenings, I do a short 4-minute prayer to reflect and appreciate the day’s progress and life lessons.
The health and positive mental effects of my daily Buddhist practice are profound. Chanting gives me hope, boosts my compassion, and restores my energy. It’s an amazing tool I’ve used for 32 years. If you’d like to learn more about SGI Buddhism, please click here.
Build Your Positivity Fortress
Besides my incredibly supportive friends, and my participation in SGI-USA activities, I immerse myself in positivity.
From listening to upbeat podcasts, blogs, and my favorite music, to reading books on positive mindset, to my SGI-USA Buddhist publications, I devour all things about positive-thinking.
The more I delve into this kind of content, the easier it is for me to shift my focus to it. This dramatically diminishes or replaces my negative self-talk.
Developing a daily routine while vigilantly training my brain to see my best self has been helping me achieve more as I continue forging my new adventurous path. I plan to keep moving forward toward my dreams as I challenge myself to fulfill my potential.
I hope giving you an inside peak into my journey is helpful to you, too. Please let me know in the comments below if it is, or if you have any questions or other topics you’d like me to explore more deeply!
I sincerely pray this content inspires YourCreativeChord!
I’d love to hear from you. It means a lot to me that my content is helpful and empowers you. Please take a moment to join the conversation below to let me know if this blog is helpful or if you have questions or suggestions!
How To Use Self-Care To Feel Happy
5 Ways To Use Music & Nature For Self-Care
Defeat Fear & Doubt with Your Courage & Capability
How To Deflect Negativity To Become Happier
Believing In The Positive
To Climb Again My Kilimanjaro
COMING SOON: Watch this space for new ebooks, products and courses for nurturing creativity and inspiration!
In my INSPIRATION blogs, you’ll find ways to overcome obstacles, reach goals, and experience more joy in the moment with spiritual awareness and inner transformation.