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?
Recommended Content Toward Improved Self-Care:
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MY NATURE-INSPIRED PHOTO ESSAY SERIES:
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by Jenny Leigh Hodgins
BIG PLAN A
I’ve had surprising challenges since I set out to achieve personal goals. I made bold decisions to leave a career I’d outgrown, sell my home, move out-of-state to be in place as caregiver for my aging parent, then use my new situation to apply myself toward my lifelong dreams of working from home as a creator.
CHANGE CAN BE AWKWARD
I’ve learned through this process that just because I’m doing something for a good reason (help my mother and relieve other family members) doesn’t mean it will be easy or even appreciated by others. Big changes bring out big obstacles.
People need time to adjust to significant transitions. Sometimes the initial shift brings out uncomfortable aspects within a relationship or from within a person. People just flat-out respond differently (including me) when facing new challenges. I’m learning to check my expectations at the door, lower my judgment, strive to listen to opposing perspectives, and work on the only person I have control over; me.
EXPECT NOTHING TO BE EASY
I’ve also learned that going after my dreams doesn’t mean they will be handed to me on a silver platter. It’s been my experience that thinking the hardest part is over is almost always wrong. Something more difficult or unexpected often presents itself. It is best to prepare myself to expect nothing to be easy, and to forge a life-state ready for impending problems.
I’ve found that being true to myself and going all out for my dreams means I may face resistance in the form of judgment from others whose values differ from my own, or who have an outdated version of me in their psyche. That means I must embolden myself to withstand countering views, to stand my ground and persist on paving my new pathway without support or understanding.
Again, expect nothing.
DISCOVERING YOUR ABILITY TO CREATE PLAN B
Reflecting on myself through this period of troubles, I’ve found my weaknesses as well as strengths I didn’t realize were in me. On the plus side, I’ve discovered that despite the fact my best laid plans were completely skewed from the start, I have qualities that enable me to push through and create Plan B.
Let me share a bit of my story to make my point. My plan was to sell my home, and use the profits to cover 6-months to a year's expenses for my out-of-state move while building my online business as a blogger, podcast host and course creator. This plan and timeline were both utterly botched by an inexperienced realtor, an unforeseen hurricane, and unexpected family health emergencies.
My home was under contract to close when I moved to Kentucky from Florida last July. But the buyer strung me and my realtor along a series of peculiar delays. In hindsight, I now know these delays should’ve been avoided by my realtor quickly cancelling that buyer’s contract early on, to immediately put my lovely home back on market. Instead, that buyer failed to win loan approval after three months’ delay, just in time for a hurricane of historic power (Irma) to strike near my home, causing a housing slow-down (but, fortunately no damage to my home).
After the hurricane passed, I stressed to my realtor my urgency to sell my home, as I had not anticipated moving out of state before my home sale. She had a melt-down during our phone conversation, and instead vindictively sabotaged my home sale. Though I attempted giving her time and the benefit of doubt, due to no showings in 6 months, I finally found a second realtor.
My new realtor showed the home 11 times in less than 2 months during the slowest (holidays) season, and in February, I finally sold my home after an 8-month delay. (Whew!)
FINDING THE VALUE WITHIN YOUR STRUGGLES
This is only a partial view of the story, as I simultaneously dealt with additional unanticipated challenges as a new caregiver, a bizarre botching of my investment funds from my previous job's Human Resources department, and with other family issues that slowed down my focus on establishing my online business.
But, I also had a variety of mystic protection and benefits.
I was eligible for disaster relief due to the hurricane, even though my home suffered zero damage! This allowed me nearly 6 months of freedom from one credit card and my mortgage payments! Thanks to my diligent juggling with living off my credit cards while waiting for my home sale, I achieved my goal to keep my credit score unscathed (currently 836!). Having struggled for many years to transform my credit score from horrible to stellar, and keep it there, was a true personal victory.
Due to the delay, I managed to grow my IRA to more than I anticipated, and finally got my funds transferred to my account. I had a wonderful local group of capable men volunteer (in 20° snowy weather!) to move my belongings from an expensive pod to an affordable, more convenient storage unit!
YOUR TRUE VICTORY IS WITHIN YOUR PROBLEMS
I’m grateful for these wonderful benefits, but find my struggles exponentially more valuable. Through adversity, I began to forge tenacity, resourcefulness, flexibility, appreciation, develop patience, tap into my inherent wisdom, and fuel my sense of empathy for others facing unforeseen challenge.
I also learned that my tendencies to doubt myself, complain about my hardships, or be inflexible and narrow-minded do not add value nor provide solutions, relief or comfort to me or anyone around me.
Having to experience a failed Plan A, move on to Plan B, while juggling all the complications that entails, is an infinitely more valuable chapter in my life than having had everything go smoothly from the start.
CHALLENGING WORKOUTS BUILD STRENGTH
Difficulties are like climbing mountains.
The higher the altitude gets, the more the climber has to develop and expand in survival capacity. Just walking down a straight, flat road doesn’t test or build one’s abilities in comparison to climbing a mountain.
But after climbing a mountain, a walk down the road feels like a vacation.
What I’ve learned is that Plan B is about my behavior as a human being.
How do I become the most capable, compassionate, wise, person?
How do I fulfill my greatest potential?
Setting goals that seem impossible to achieve, getting my plans crushed and having to devise a new way through--being forced to find innovative ways to get through a challenge--is what dreams are made of. Responding to each surprising obstacle with the determination to win victory no matter what is crucial to my becoming the best I can be.
The developments I make through struggles in one aspect of my life interconnect and apply toward other aspects of my life. Through my 8-month journey, I forged discipline to write, compose and network, bringing me a sudden burst of freelance work, creative projects, and personal connections. I'm also becoming a better writer, social media manager, and have expanded my content to podcasts and affiliate marketing. These are in sync with what I envision as my lifelong dream path to manifest my full potential as an artist for peace.
Plan B is about my behavior as a human being. It’s about how to respond to the difficulties in front of me. It’s about how I create a better me out of the situation. Creating value out of any situation is transformational for me and those around me.
Plan B, from this moment forward, is about brilliant transformation.
I'd love to hear your thoughts about my perspective on struggles as a means to make improvement. Please share your comments below.
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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.