…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!