The world is a strange place to be at the moment isn’t it? In the last few months we’ve had so much change, and not all of it seems to be for the better. Wherever we look there seems to be chaos and destruction and so much fear.
That’s understandable of course; I live in the UK and just on our tiny little island we’ve had a general election and two horrific mass murders within the last month.
Now I’m a firm believer in the bigger picture, the power of good and that we will always get to where we’re meant to be, but this isn’t a post about how we shouldn’t worry at all because on the other side of this shittiness lies a beautiful new beginning; l maybe that’s a post for another day.
But for today, this post about you and your role amidst all of that.
You see I was always brought up to believe that one person can change the world. And it’s something I believe fiercely. Maybe we can’t do it overnight, maybe not in the headline grabbing ways of your traditional superhero, but in our own way each and every one of us is capable of changing the world piece by piece, day by day and action by action.
And how do we do that? With love.
I know, I know, it sounds totally fluffy and glib, but hear me out.
Back student I worked at McDonald’s, and during a training course I remember watching a video showing the effect of your attitude on the person you interact with. The exercise was simple; they sent a man into a shop with a shocking attitude – he snapped at the staff, grimaced all the way through the interaction and was generally pretty rude. Probably unsurprisingly, the shop assistant he was dealing with quickly became pretty ratty with him too.
Literally five minutes later they sent the same man – this time wearing a wig, fake moustache and different pair of clothes, back into the shop to be chatty, smiley and generally lovely to the shop assistant. Guess what they found? That’s right, the shop assistant was lovely in return and he had marvellous customer service.
I’ve always remembered that as an example for life in general. How often when you’ve been in a bad mood has a smile from a stranger, a random act of kindness, or witnessing something lovely changed your mindset?
During the recent one love concert in Manchester Scooter Braun quoted someone called Adam, who had lost his best friend and was still in hospital himself after the bombing at the Manchester arena. Apparently when talking about the upcoming concert, Adam had asked Scooter to tell the crowd “Don’t go forward in anger, love spreads.”
I know, the power of that statement – especially from someone who’d lost someone so close, been witness to something so awful, and was still suffering himself as the result of an act of hate – is incredible. And I think it’s a motto we should all carry forwards during these tough times.
Is that to say we shouldn’t get angry? Gods no. Because why the hell wouldn’t we get angry when people around the world are killing children in the name of their own individual hate-filled agenda, or when the man sat in one of the most powerful seats in the world is lying, cheating and bullying his way towards a world where the only people with power are those just like him, and all manner of other things going on in the world?
That anger; the fire and the passion it ignites in us can be damned powerful. But it’s where we take the flame and what we do next that makes the difference. Our choice is to carry forward that anger – acting out of fury and a desire for revenge; or to flip that feeling instead – leaving our anger in the moment and instead using our passion to defend the things that we love and to build the world that we hope for.
And it’s that second option that we need to focus on, no matter how difficult it can be.
Because love – be it in the form of a smile, a compliment, a kind act or something entirely different – is the greatest power that we have.
So where does that come into my work, I hear you ask? Because I know I’ve gone off track from my usual posts with this one. It’s simple; that work of spreading love out to the wider world begins with the love you give yourself.
When you look in the mirror and choose to focus on the sparkle in your eyes instead of the stretchmarks on your hips; when you take an hour out for the rest you need rather than the work you feel you should do; when you do anything to bring yourself love and smiles rather than lack and frustration; and when you do the work to ditch the guilt that stops you enjoying those things; well each and every one of those things puts you in a better position to effortlessly spread that love far and wide to everyone you meet.
For so many of us looking out at the crazy goings on in the world at the moment, it can be only too easy to fight and to want to run ourselves ragged in trying to change the world. But our best chance of changing it comes when we first look after ourselves, love ourselves and then take that love forward into the world at large.
So give yourself a smile when you next look into the mirror. And then carry that smile out to the people you meet, who knows how many days you’ll change as a result.