It’s the phrase Mahatma Gandhi is famous for: Be a change you wish to see in the world.
You’ve seen it weaved on throw pillows. Posted on Instagram. Donning the frames of pictures. Etched on mini-plaques you got for graduation.
And, if you’re like me, that phrase easily falls on deaf ears.
It sounds good, in theory, but it also sounds like a “rah rah” pep talk.
Gooooooo team gooooo!
Many of us have heard and been inspired by Gandhi’s quote, but even as we have quoted, cited, coached and counseled with it, but who knows the story behind it?
Yup. Not many of us.
THE STORY BEHIND “BE THE CHANGE”
Fun fact: Gandhi did NOT really say that quote at all.
Instead, he said this:
“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. …We need not wait to see what others do.”
Gandhi’s “be the change” attitude played out in the story of the boy and the sugar.
Gandhi had a waiting list of hundreds of people who wanted to see him. Two of these people were a mom and her son—reportedly a boy who was addicted to sugar.
When it came their turn to see Gandhi, the mom begged Gandhi to talk to her son about his bad habit of eating too much sugar.
Gandhi asked her to come back in two weeks and said he would talk to the boy then.
She wondered why he didn’t just speak to her son while he was already there, but she complied with his request.
Two weeks later, she and her son returned to Gandhi with the same request: “Please talk to my son about eating too much sugar.”
Hearing her repeated request, Gandhi immediately spoke with the boy, who agreed to begin working to eliminate sweets.
After thanking Gandhi for his wise words, the mom asked him why he wanted them to return instead of offering his advice the first time.
Gandhi replied, “Upon your visit two weeks ago I too was eating sugar.”
He explained that he couldn’t teach her son to not eat sugar if he himself had not taken that journey either (i.e. “be the change”)
Today your #thrivelife project is to do just that though.
BE A CHANGE.
Need some ideas?
- Let someone else cut in front of you in traffic
- Say something positive, instead of something negative
- Don’t gossip
- Lift others up
- Pay attention to the person no one else notices
- Don’t follow the crowd—do the opposite
- Follow your heart and passion (instead of caring so much about what others think)
- Leave the waiter a big tip
- Ask a cashier about her day
- Let your boss know what a good job he or she is doing
- Do something thoughtful for a friend having a rough week
- Cook extra and share with someone else
- Start a movement
Bonus: Do it Now
Here’s a simple way to get started:
Spread a something positive and selfless on social media. Say something positive on someone’s post, or send a long-lost friend a message to let them know you’re thinking about them and what they mean to you.