…then use the force, Luke.
This is a guest post by my dear friend and cohort, Julica. It’s about making a difference – a subject so important, she and I are teaching a class on it!
Here are some important things that I think Really Important Change Makers do, things I want you to do to become an unstoppable, powerful agent of change in the world.
Are you ready?
They are: Go for a walk. Take a nap. Doodle. Write in your journal. Dance. Knit.
I can hear you now: “There is real oppression and discrimination going on every day…and you want me to go for a walk? Take a nap? Do something silly and creative? Are you nuts?!”
And yet, what I’ve seen over and over with change agents, activists, and others who are able to profoundly impact the world for the better is that their approach to change is rooted in love and in joy. This depth of joy can only begin with taking care of our own needs first.
A Better Fuel for Change
The idea of taking care of your needs first can seem counter-intuitive to those of us who want to make a difference because we’re painfully aware of all the things in the world that need care and healing now. You might even argue that putting ourselves first and “looking out for Number 1” were the attitudes that got us into this mess in the first place.
And it sure is a mess, isn’t it?
There’s plenty to be angry about, absolutely. I’m not suggesting you take a Pollyanna approach to life. But while anger burns hot, it also burns fast and burns you out.
It’s because there’s so much to do — so much to provoke our outrage — that we need to be sure we source our energies in something much deeper, something that renews us and our commitment to change: joy.
Use the Force
Here’s the bottom line: when you are joyful, spiritually nourished, loving yourself, you can’t HELP but change everything you touch. Using joy and love to fuel change is like using the Force — instead of just your human strength to rely on, your efforts are buoyed by something much greater. Instead of pulling and pushing, you become a magnet for change.
Joy as a fuel for action is what I call a renewable, sustainable energy source. The more you use it, the stronger and brighter it becomes. It’s a much longer-lasting fuel, and it has the added benefit of being highly pleasant as you burn it.
Plugging into Joy
Tapping into your joy power begins, as everything must, with baby steps. Gandhi said: “What you do will seem insignificant, but it is very important that you do it.” Making sure you eat a good breakfast might seem ridiculously small to you at first, but the more you take excellent care of yourself in seemingly small ways, the more you have to give to the world in every way.
The process begins by cultivating a space of permission, and compassion, and self-nurturing. For example, you might want to write yourself a small note every morning, checking in and establishing what you most want to get out of the day. Or you might spend 10 minutes in quiet contemplation, to give yourself opportunity to listen to your body. Or maybe you want to set up a weekly date with yourself to do something fun and silly and creative for a couple of hours.
The more you let yourself play and do creative things, the more you strengthen the right side of your brain. This will lead to crazy, wild, paradigm-shifting ideas to change the world. And baby, we need them. We need your crazy ideas. We need to shift so many paradigms, it’s not even funny. The world desperately needs your creativity and curiosity and compassion.
But in order to grow, these qualities need regular doses of self-care and permission. The more you give yourself permission to be yourself, fully, the more you will show up in the world unstoppable and on fire. And the world needs you, dahling, in all your blazing glory.
So how about you take five minutes and close your eyes. Can you feel what your heart is asking for? It can be as tiny as wanting to take deep breaths, or as large as wanting to move across the country.
Just listen, notice, and feel free to share your discoveries in the comments below.
Julica Hermann is the Social Change & Life Coach. She’s been in the change-making business since 1994, when she first started facilitating diversity conversations at the University of Michigan. Since then, she’s become fierce about supporting social artists and rebels in upending the status quo. She does that through individual and group coaching, classes, and trainings. When she’s not coaching, you’ll find her reading sci-fi and fantasy books; playing with feather boas or making jewelry; nurturing her two wee world-changing daughters; and looking for peeps to go out dancing. And soon, she’ll be teaching a class called Permission to Make a Difference with our very own Kyeli!
In our Top 5 Posts from 2007 series, this post is #1! The message is as important and valid today as it was when we first published it in 2007, so we’re pulling it out, dusting it off, recording a very enthusiastic reading of it, and giving it another moment in the sun. We’re posting it today as an offering of hope in honor of the Transgender Day of Remembrance, which is next week.
I’m happy to be a girl. You know, most days I take it for granted, and that’s a damn shame. Because you know what, it’s a fucking miracle! It’s like something out of a fairy tale! And it’s real, totally real, right here, really happening.
There was a time when I would daydream about how nice it would be to be pretty. An unattainable fantasy, I thought at the time, just an idle daydream. WRONG! My dream has come true. I’m not just pretty, I’m beautiful! Holy living fuck! How is this even possible?! It’s amazing! It’s truly amazing.
Your body contains the blueprints for both a male version of you and a female version of you. With a change in one single hormone (or maybe two), your body would shift from one to the other. Not 100%; there would still be a couple of things that would require some external tweaking, but about 70% or 80%. Think about that. Think about the potential that your body contains. You contain both male and female, but you’re (probably) only expressing one of them. But the potential is inside you, locked away by hormonal balances.
We’re all just people. Men, women, boys, girls, intersex, transgender, cisgender, we’re all just people. If there’s one thing my transition has taught me, it’s that. Because I was male, and then I was female, but I was still the same person. We’re all just people.
For me, becoming female (or, more precisely, moving into the female gender role) was like a set of puzzle pieces all falling into place. There were a whole bunch of things that used to feel subtly wrong that suddenly started feeling right. Being able to talk in the restroom. Smiling at other women as we pass by. (Did you notice that men don’t do that?) Being able to talk about my emotions and being able to cry without social stigma. Hugging other women without awkwardness. Being able to casually touch another woman on the arm while we’re talking, and have it be taken as a gesture of friendship and connection rather than as something potentially creepy or off-putting. Being able to be nice, kind, and complimentary to others without being perceived as a sexual predator. There were all these things that I was never fully aware of until they all changed for me. And it felt really right.
It’s amazing to have been on both sides (and the middle!) of the gender fence. It’s really incredible to have seen all these gendered aspects of culture from multiple perspectives. Sometimes I feel like a double agent, like a gender spy. (: But I’m not out to take sides; I just want us all to understand each other. Because we’re all just people.
Being trans can be really tough. Transition is no cakewalk, that’s for sure. There’s oodles of social stigma, prejudice, hate, and other crappy crap. But that’s not the whole story. Being trans is also amazing. It’s an incredible, magickal journey across a line that most people don’t even know is possible to cross. I’m Pace, I’m proud to be trans, and I’m happy to be a girl. (:
Pace and I are speaking at BlogWorld this year – in just a couple of days, in fact – on Saturday at 12:15pm LA time.
We’re very excited. And nervous. And excited.
Our talk is entitled How Your Blog Can Change the World.
We’ve each written a post about it for the BlogWorld blog, so you can have a little taste!
Pace’s is, surprise surprise, very explanatory and hella awesome. (We played to our strengths, there.) Hers also includes “The Parable of the Lonely Blogger” – and at the bottom, you’ll find our adorable video where she does most of the talking because it’s explainy.
If you’re at BlogWorld this weekend and want to hang out with us, text me (Kyeli) at 512-686-8593. Be sure to give me your name – even if you think I have you in my phone already – because if I don’t know who’s texting me, I’ll ignore it. Or you can always drop by our presentation and snag a hug at the end!
If you’re not at BlogWorld but wish you were, you can get in on the virtual ticket hoopla with Johnny Truant – which is gonna be incredibly awesome and allllmost as good as being there live.
We hope to see you there! Come see us! Squee!
We asked Courtney Ramirez to be our Awesome Apprentice; she’s taking the 52 Weeks to Awesome course and will be writing us a post at the end of each month to share her experiences with us.
3 Reasons Why Organizing is Good for the Soul
I had a rude awakening when I moved to college: I realized that not everyone is as much of a Type A neat freak as I was.
Wanting to make peace with my roommates, I slacked off in my organizational ways. Then I got a little less organized when I got married to a very creative, very spontaneous, very unorganized man. Then I had two babies in two years, and if you’re a parent you know how that goes.
Suffice to say, in the last fourteen years I went from highly organized young lady to a woman who’s inner Type A voice is screaming “What the heck are you doing?”
Try as I might, I had a hard time getting reorganized. Then this month’s exercises (especially week 36: “Decluttering Essentials”) snapped me back into shape and I began to see that being unorganized is not me.
Being Type A doesn’t mean being a stick in the mud or having no feelings. It’s how I work – and it feeds my soul.
Even if you’re a little more on the creative side like my husband, getting organized and purging your clutter can be a soul-expanding experience.
And here are my three reasons why:
1. You only have so much room in your brain.
Trying to keep everything in your head and not on paper is soul sucking. There are so many details through your brain that on any given day you’re dealing with thousands of people of information.
When you try to hold it all in without getting it out, you’re wasting your mind on the details. Get those little details out so you can save your brainpower for more important things.
2. Being disorganized can cause excess stress.
How simple is it to meditate, relax, or reflect when you have a million things that are stressing you out? How can you spend time developing your soul and deepening your connection with what matters in life if you can’t remember if your library books are due today or tomorrow?
Being disorganized means that you have more stress and are less able to relax. Get everything out of your head and onto paper – or onto your computer, or in a digital to-do list (yes, there’s an app for that), or whatever system works for you – so you can reduce your stress and spend time on more important matters.
3. Getting organized feels good!
The simple act of purging out that overflowing junk drawer, donating old clothes and books, or cleaning out those dreaded closets gives you a fresh start and lifts your spirits. If you find small ways to purge out the old and bring in the new, you’ll see that it can lift your spirits and open your door for new things to come into your life.
Try purging out the old, writing down everything you want to accomplish, and putting it all down on the calendar.
You’ll be surprised by how good it feels – I certainly was!
Courtney Ramirez is a content, seo and marketing superhero consultant by day and geeky BBC sitcom watching mom and wife by night. When not developing carpal tunnel by writing for her clients or playing the Sims, she’s homeschooling two girls and toying around with the idea of starting a new blog. You can follow her on Twitter.
In this video interview with Eric Klein, we talk about how his free e-book 50 Ways to Leave Your Karma changes the world. It’s kind of like 52 Weeks to Awesome but with a more “52 Weeks to Enlightenment” flavor.
Two thumbs up from me! *thumb* *thumb*
If you prefer audio, here’s an MP3 for you.
- What’s your purpose in life, Eric?
- What is karma and why does it matter?
- There’s a spectrum from “comfortable apathy” to “crush anything that gets in your way”. What’s the middle ground?
- “effective spirituality”
- Tell me a story about how this e-book has changed someone’s life, and how it can help change the world.
- Why are you giving it away for free?
Read it, enjoy it, live it, share it!
In our Top 5 Posts of 2008 series, this post is #4! The message is as important and valid today as it was when we first published it, so we’re pulling it out, dusting it off, and giving it another moment in the sun. Enjoy!
Seth Godin posted today about what watching less TV means for the world. This post is about what it means for you.
Your life can be interesting, too.
People sometimes say to me, “Wow, your life is so interesting!” Sometimes they say it in kind of a fearful sort of way, but sometimes they say it in kind of an envious way, as if they find their life boring and would love to have a more interesting life. So here it is, folks, How To Live An Interesting Life, in one not-as-hard-as-you-might-think step.
That’s not so bad, right? You don’t even have to do anything, you just have to stop doing a few things. Like watching TV. Maybe playing video games. Maybe spending so much time at parties or social events. Whatever you feel is “sucking up your time” and making your life uninteresting — it may be totally different for you than for someone else. Just stop doing it.
Here’s what you’ll notice.
You will get bored. You will feel antsy. You will get jittery and want to go back to doing the things you just stopped doing. (Notice how this is like withdrawal from an addiction?) But if you stay the course, you will come out the other side.
You will get so bored that you will find something interesting to do.
This is our default state, but we have so many distractions that it’s hard for us to get back to our natural baseline. Eliminating all the distractions will help you regain your default state of having an interesting life.
Here’s how you can stay the course.
I’ve found that it helps to make a small number of large decisions rather than a large number of small decisions. It’s like choosing not to buy junk food once a week during grocery shopping time instead of choosing not to eat junk food every hour during potential snacky time.
I’m talking about medium-to-large decisions like not owning a TV, or not signing up for cable. Not buying a game I know I’d get addicted to. Setting up a calendar with certain times reserved for certain things, and sticking to the schedule.
Consolidate your willpower.
“Uninteresting” is not the same as “boring”
Notice I said to stop doing “uninteresting” things, not “boring” things. TV isn’t boring; it’s specifically designed to not be. But on a higher level, on a life level, it is incredibly uninteresting. Take stock of all those things in your life that you feel are uninteresting, and just stop doing them.
That’s all it takes. The rest will take care of itself — or rather, you will take care of it, because it will help you find and express the true inner amazingness that is inside you.
It’s the best decision you’ll ever make.
I made you a video, because typing hurts me and I miss you.
In our Top 5 Posts from 2007 series, this post is #4! The message is as important and valid today as it was when we first published it in 2007, so we’re pulling it out, dusting it off, and giving it another moment in the sun. Enjoy!
You may think it’s obvious, especially to one of the presenters of a communication workshop, but how easy I forget. Talking soothes my worry, clears my mind, articulates my emotions, makes my relationships stronger and closer. It’s how I share who I am with you. It’s how we merge our perceptions, our worlds, together. In my opinion, there is altogether not enough of it going on. And yet…
Sometimes, I get wrapped up in fear or worry and all the positive aspects of talking just go, float away, dissipate, cease to stick in my head. I bottle up and shut down. I spend hours, days, occasionally weeks stuck in this box of my own creation, wondering why things have gotten so bad. I wonder where all the stress in my shoulders originates, why I’m snipping at everyone, why I’m so worn out.
And then, I remember. I breathe. I think. I find an opening, a good time and a good setting, and I talk. We talk. Usually, it’s a flood of words and emotions as worry and fear pour through me taking form and expression. An exchange of who I am, my perception, my world – sharing and merging into who you are, your world. For a time, we talk while the outside fades; we focus on communication and sharing. It’s sacred, beautiful, special. And, in the end, everything is better.
The “paradox of abundance” is when you feel like something is less valuable simply because it’s easier to get or more common. This is related to two harmful myths of our culture.
Myth #1: Rarity = Value.
In some cases, it’s true that rarity can affect value, for instance of lots of people like gold because it’s pretty, but there just isn’t very much gold, then the value will go up due to its rarity. But many people might have said “the value is high because of its rarity,” and that is simply rubbish. The value is high because people think it’s pretty! Or useful! Or whatever! Just because something is rare does not automatically mean that it is valuable.
Imagine a world where we really did have enough for everyone. I would want to be happy in that world. Wouldn’t you?
Myth #2: Effort = Value.
There are a few cases where extra effort can increase the value of something, but most of the time, it’s just a harmful myth. For instance, people who work 60-hour weeks are usually valued more highly than people who work 40-hour weeks, even if the 40-hour-a-week people produce twice as many useful results.
Imagine that two of your friends each help others in various ways. Your first friend works really hard at it and puts a lot of effort into it, but your second friend does it effortlessly and almost accidentally. Society tells us to value the first friend’s accomplishments more because they worked harder for them. This is bullshit and incredibly insidious!
If people at large believe that effort equals value, then we’re not really being encouraged to grow, to learn, to help others, or to do useful things. We’re being encouraged to try hard. And often, what is encouraged is what ends up manifesting.
I prefer to live in a world where people are encouraged to grow, to learn, to help others, and to do useful things, because that’s the world in which those results are most likely to happen.
In our Top 5 Posts from 2007 series, this post is #3! The message is as important and valid today as it was when we first published it in 2007, so we’re pulling it out, dusting it off, and giving it another moment in the sun. Enjoy!
Today was a good day because…
…we’ll get to that in a moment.
I have this big mental paintbrush that tends to roll over my recent past with a thick coat of misery paint. I remember the bad things that happen, but not so much the good things. As a result, I tend to feel like I’ve had a really awful week when really, only a few difficult things have happened in a slew of good stuff.
I found a way to combat this.
One of the things we talk about in The Usual Error is the power of endings. For example: think of a movie where the main character dies right at the end for no good reason. Even if the movie was fantastic, it’s likely we won’t remember it well. It’s all about endings.
Our brains remember only the most recent events most clearly, except for bad or challenging or difficult things – those we remember with eerie clarity. They’re big black spots on our mind-maps. In an effort to help myself remember the good stuff without such a heavy focus on the bad, I’m using the power of endings to my advantage.
Every night before sleep, but after I get in bed, I review my day. My family and I, all cozied up in bed together, talk about the good things that we remember happening throughout the day and discuss how happy those things made us. We don’t even discuss anything negative; the point is to just relax and focus on the positive of our day. Now, as I look back on my week, the good things are there, standing out among the bad – they now have equal importance and equal marks on the mental map of my life.
This is outstanding! How this one simple thing has really changed my life!
Today was a good day because I wrote this blog post. I had one of my favorite lunches. I spent several hours curled up on the couch with my lovely wife. I cleaned up my office space so I could work in it again. I finally installed my camera software so I can upload my new pictures to my Flickr account. I found some money squirreled away in my desk! I watched some of my favorite shows and had a really yummy dinner, played fun games with my family, and snuggled a lot.
What an awesome day!