Nov. 7, 2011

The First Step In Changing The World Is To First Change Yourself

From Mindful In Bedlam by Daniel Labbe (author's profile)


The first step in changing the world is to first change yourself.

My Quest
by Daniel Labbe

Throw logic out the window and "want" no more.

Today's meditation: In prison, just like in "normal" society, people rarely treat us the way we would like, and many of our deepest desires go unmet. This is common to us all. But there is something we can do about this problem. In fact, the ball is actually in our own court, though the answer seems so counterintuitive it's absurd. This may explain why so few people understand this incredible "secret" solution.

Are you ready?

Whatever it is you want from life and from relationships, give it away. Sound cliché, too simple or Pollyanna? Let's take a closer look.

I'll give you an example from my life. For years, I wanted to find someone I could connect with. It seemed like on one wanted to talk about positive, uplifting things. I want to experience rewarding relationships where people treat me kindly, warmly, and with respect. Well, guess what? I'm i prison! Sure, occasionally I'll come across someone in a positive mood or someone will surprise me with his sincerity. But on average, if I wait for someone else to show me some kindness, warmth, or respect before I let myself experience these things I'll feel like I'm at the DMV on a Friday afternoon, waiting forever!

Hell is waiting in some at the DMV (Dept. of Motor Vehicles). :)

I long for love, kindness, inspirational interactions, and sincerity. But these things aren't known to flourish in prison. If I remember correctly, they don't flourish anywhere.

Yet I couldn't give up on these things. I need them. So I figured out that the only way I could make sure I would experience more of these qualities is if I engaged in them more often. If I give away the things I wanted to experience I still experience those things. I was so focused on receiving these experiences from others—as many of us are—I didn't realize that I didn't have to rely on others to experience love, compassion, warmth, or kindness. It would be nice if everyone treated me this way, but the only way I can guarantee that I experience these qualities is choosing to treat others this way.

It is more blessed to give than to receive. What a cliché (and so true)! :)

Imagine love as a river. Traditionally, if we wanted to experience love, be soaked in love, we try to find someone who will love us. But won't we experience love, get soaked in it, even when the river is flowing out from us to someone else? Does it matter which way the river flows? Don't we get wet either way?

Want to experience positivity? Then be positive. Want to experience kindness? Then be kind. Want respect? Then be respectful. And if you're looking to experience love, then love those around you. Give away what you most desire. Crazy, huh?

Not only do we experience these qualities when we give them away, experiencing them is so much more rewarding.

If I can realize this truth while in the cold, violent, and self-obsessed world of prison then it should be a snap to learn outside these walls. Think about it.

Reader question: How do you explore love in your life?

Current events: So what's this focus on love? I mean, isn't that a bit sentimental, naive, and silly? I am in prison, after all. The truth is, I've come to a point where I realize that love is what my soul, my heart truly wants. It is what makes me happy, and it is fulfilling beyond description. I'm not talking about romantic love. I'm talking about a choice.

For me, to love someone is to choose to look past the person's ego, social masks, and foilables. Instead, see the innocence, the care behind it all. Love is the choice to allow yourself to feel the other person's pain. To feel joy for another person's success. Love is to cherish the sanctity of life in another. To see yourself in others. To see that person's truth and connect to it.

It's when you allow the illusion of separation to take a backseat for a while, and it feels fantastic!

Not only that, you feel the joy you are creating in the other person. It makes you all the more passionate, successful, happy, and enthusiastic. To know the truth of who someone is, is to love that person. It couldn't be any other way.

For me, anything I do is only a medium to explore love. No matter what your job is, who you are, this can be your focus too. It is more rewarding than words can describe, and it has turned this hell (prison) into a heaven. What will it do for you?

Comment responses: Marianne, thank you for your comment. Food for the soul. I enjoyed your breakdown of the word "compassion." Emotion and action. That says it all.

Mike from the Netherlands: thanks for writing I was only able to explore what my life is about because I came to prison. Let's hope you'll find some time before that happens! :)

P.S. Mike, what would you like your life to be about?


Replies (2) Replies feed

carol Posted 12 years, 6 months ago. ✓ Mailed 12 years, 6 months ago   Favorite
Hello Daniel,

Everything you've said in this blog (November 7th) couldn't be any truer!

Giving "anything" (love, help, caring, listening, etc.) to someone comes back to you two-fold in the happiness you get from making someone else feel good,wanted, needed, worthwhile, etc.

If all of us could just try to do one nice thing, helpful thing, etc. each day for someone, they would see exactly what you are talking about. It feels good!!! It "almost feels selfish", because it makes you feel so good, to make someone else feel worthy!

Love your blogs! They even help to keep positive people on track!!

Take care! Feel good, because you've made another person feel good today!!


olaora Posted 10 years, 6 months ago. ✓ Mailed 10 years, 5 months ago   Favorite
Wow! Just wow! I am absolutely glad I found this,you're an amazing person. I want you to know that even behind bars, you've taught me something. Even from behind bars, you made your mark in someone's life today and I love you for that. I could only pray that you would also experience the love of Jesus, even behind bars! :-)

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