So much change is happening. People often ask nowadays, what can they do to stay safe, sane and happy. Some very valuable approaches to this include learning, listening and leading, along with being positive and having emotional stability and strength.
To this end, it is important to learn from the world around you with information and skills that improve your mind, body and spirit. Find new resources and develop old ones to learn about what you think is important, interesting and or needed by you. Pick a few of these resources and explore them, seeking to better understand the salient points. Grow as much as you can by keeping an open mind, humble attitude and eager spirit. Do something daily to keep things fresh and steady.
Listen to others. Take time to build relationships with people who are like minded but be willing to interact with people that have different views and backgrounds than yours. Once you have built connection, ask questions, even the uncomfortable ones. Open minds and solid relationships can handle the search for growth and truth if it is honestly sought after.
Be a leader for your own personal growth as well as others. Everyone can be leaders but leadership requires action. Do something new with the expanded knowledge you are developing and make this a part of your daily or weekly routine. Try to mesh and ingrain this new knowledge with behaviour patterns in simple ways that are easy to repeat and remember. As you do this more and more, the new knowledge will come more easy and natural to you. Start with a focus of leading yourself to a better place but share this information with people who are interested and willing to listen. Helping to make other lives better is one of the best ways to improve yours. Make a conscious choice and follow through as best you can.
Bessie Anderson Stanley, author of the poem Success, said it well with “To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”
Since change is one of the few constants in the universe, it is wise to work on and strengthen your change muscles. All effective life changes begin best with a decision, followed by action. Action is always the hard part because it is uncomfortable. Adjusting to a new work schedule, home schooling, wearing masks, adapting to new technology, starting a new diet, etc., are all about dealing with change. We all know how hard it is to start something new and stick with it.
Science shows that incremental change is usually the least difficult approach to deal with change in general. Indeed, small daily actions can lead to sustainable habits. You do not have to make sudden or large changes quickly to lead yourself to the better place you want for yourself. Taking baby steps is fine but keep at it. Small shifts, over time, can lead to great results.
To do this effectively, one needs to have good emotional fortitude. Emotional fortitude is the ability to stay clear-headed while exploring your emotional reactions to stress, change and disruption. This pandemic has given us the opportunity to do the inner work necessary to be able to make the best choices possible in the face of uncertainty. Strong leaders, when stressed, acknowledge their emotions and quickly shift to understanding why they are feeling them. When uncertainty is high, emotional fortitude is essential. In tough times, our instincts encourage us to suppress discomfort. But by embracing and examining discomfort, we are better able to move through it successfully. Emotions play a positive role in decision making when you allow them to highlight lingering questions, doubts and concerns. These are all things that you can work on resolving.
Creative problem solving and bold new options most often have their roots in emotional experiences, as long as you take the time to understand why you feel what you do and take some responsibility for this feeling. After all, it is your feeling or emotion and it came from you and your interpretation of the world around you. If you take no responsibility for your feelings and emotions and do nothing about them except react, you will be controlled by others and the environment you are in. This is called an external locus of control in psychology. You feel the control of your life is mostly out of your hands and so do little to change things as it seems fruitless. You feel weak and unable to effect much positive change. Powerful people and the best leaders develop and rely on an internal locus of control. They not only think or feel but truly believe that they have a major say about how and what they feel emotionally. But accepting responsibility, they better acquire the reins for adjustment and control of situations. They make things better in this way by adding energy to the situation to more effectively control where things are going and how they feel about it.
No one can eat or sleep for you. This is an inside job and you must do it. Feelings and emotional states are not that different. We must get involved and act in the best interests. We need the strength and understanding that our emotions are from us and we are an integral part of their existence. If we want to change them, it is most efficient if we get consciously involved in improving them. If we expect other people and the world in general to devote themselves to making us happy, we will not be very happy. It is your life. Take responsibility and get involved!
Lastly, I wanted to stress the importance of being positive. Most Sensei open their schools because they have a love of Martial Arts. Most of us have witnessed first hand how martial arts training has transformed people’s lives for the better. The best teachers have a passion to share that with others. We learn that as you become a better person, the world around you is positively affected by your actions and words. As this ripple effect widens, more and more people are affected. Of course, this ripple effect works for negative words and actions also, negatively affecting all around you. So being positive is essential, even when you do not feel like it is beneficial to you, even if you are only concerned about yourself. But there is true and blissful happiness in helping others succeed.Remember, keep leading from the front and stay engaged with the world and people around you. If you do, you will be more likely to increase your personal power, confidence and happiness.
Windsor, Ontario, Canada