There is a marked beauty to living a life of simplicity.
My parents lived a Gandhian lifestyle, which is a simple, uncomplicated approach to life. They were part of his movement and greatly revered him. It may come as no surprise then that Gandhi is one of my role models.
Observing my parents in Kenia during my early youth in the majestic Rift Valley in Kenia, I witnessed their approach to life in challenging conditions.
This was the time of the violent aftermath of the Mau Mau uprising. My parents were poor and there was danger and difficulty all around.
Through their example, I learned that no matter what our circumstances, we can always support the people around us and perform acts of kindness. We can always be giving and embody selflessness.
These are just but a couple of the many life-affirming principles that I have been soaked in as I grew up through my parent’s example.
Once, while walking home from work late at night, my dad was stopped by a group of Mau Mau guerrillas in a deserted place. These guys were deeply feared – such encounters were common and invariably fatal for the victim. They stripped my father and were about to take his life when one of the rebels called out, ‘Chhaganbhai, is that you?’ This young African man had recognised my dad who had given him small jobs in exchange for food. A heated discussion followed, and eventually, the young man persuaded the other rebels to release my father.
I learned from this encounter that giving was a value I would dedicate my life to. In doing so I have also come to realize that whatever it is that you want, give that unceasingly to others and it certainly will blossom in your life.
Gandhi beautifully captured this sentiment when he stated the following:
“We but mirror the world. All the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. This is the divine mystery supreme. A wonderful thing it is and the source of our happiness. We need not wait to see what others do.” – Mahatma Gandhi
Most people are familiar with the paraphrased version of this quote that simply says ‘Be the change you want to see in the world’.
In Gandhi’s original statement, though, he makes an interesting point which I feel is worth highlighting. When we change ourselves the tendencies in the world also change. What an empowering thought!
We all have the power to change the world. Because, changing ourselves is much more in our own control than trying to change the world around us directly.
What is a change you want to see in the world? How willing are you to do your part and embody that change fully and consistently? Will you apply yourself with the totality of your heart and mind?
In my experience, the key to becoming the change you want to see in the world is to begin to simplify your life.
Start with defining what your driving values and principles are. Create a personal purpose statement. Then, hold these values and principles in your heart. Embody, uphold, and guard them.
Develop an impeccable integrity by watering these golden guiding seeds of life you’ve planted in your heart with consistent action and high thinking.
The more you unclutter both your material as well as your inner life the easier this becomes. Train yourself to focus on what is important.
Ask yourself, ‘How can I simplify my life today?’ ‘How can I organize my life such that little distracts me from expressing my highest truth.’
We can all be the change we want to see in the world. We can all become the catalyst for positive change in the world around us. Believe in yourself and never, ever, give up!