Today I bring you the completion of my series of articles on how you can manifest positive change in your life.
A warning, if you’re looking for strictly business or marketing advice, the usual theme of articles on my blog – this series isn’t about that.
Creating positive change in your life can certainly include financial success, but this article goes beyond material wealth. It’s not for everyone, but if you want to improve your life and the world in general, read on.
This, the final chapter in the series, delivers what I believe is the most important message when it comes to global change. This is about how you as an individual are the key to creating change way beyond your sphere of influence or awareness. This is about how you are interconnected with everything and every other person on the planet.
You don’t live in isolation and while you spend all day creating your own reality, all other forms of consciousness on this planet are doing the same. In simple terms, what you create and change impacts what other people create and change. We all co-create change every day and it’s critical you become aware and understand how much of an influence you have, especially on those around you, and vice versa.
If you don’t understand the interconnectedness, then whenever you attempt to make change that includes elements outside of you – like other people – you’re going to run into resistance. Knowing why this is, how to operate in a world where you are not alone and there are conflicting motivations, is absolutely critical, both for your own happiness and for global evolution.
This series up to this point has been about creating the changes you want in your life coming from a fairly single-minded point of view. It’s been all about you. Although at times it’s vital you understand that helping others helps you, in the end the reason we do this is to make ourselves feel good.
The goal of self improvement becomes even more important when we come to realize that improving oneself is always dependent on improving the lives of others. Eventually, when you spend enough time focused on your own self development you will realize that the only way you can progress further is by helping others. To give becomes the only way to receive.
Before we move on it is necessary to recount where we have been in this series, in particular focusing on the fundamental principles necessary to create the change you desire. Here is a recap of the steps and concepts required to manifest positive change in your life.
At this point we end the physical, logical and intellect based lessons on creating change with the six powerful ideas outlined above.
I like things to work in sevens and there is a seventh element that must be considered in this process. The final ingredient can be summed up as the “spiritual” components of creating change. These are the concepts that aren’t tangible and often can’t be understood with your mind alone, but can be even more powerful than the practical ideas because they are based on belief.
As I outlined in the last four chapters in the series on creating change, spirituality and questions of the nature of truth, purpose and the reason for existence, gives my choice to actively pursue change, that much more meaning. At the end of the day all we are after in life is some kind of meaning to infuse us with purpose. You have to determine what is true for you through a process of constant refinement and awareness development.
The stronger your belief and the clearer your purpose, the more likely it is that you will undertake the physical manifestation – the experience – of the change you are attempting to make.
To sum up my philosophy of change, we are trying to align our thoughts, feelings and actions in the practical world, to be congruent towards what we want. The congruency – and finding the clarity necessary to be congruent – is the challenge, especially given the varying conditions life throws at us. This is why the spirit, or at the very least your belief system, comes into play. It’s the glue that helps you to continue to tie together your thoughts, feelings and actions towards what you want.
In chapter five, I introduced the idea that there are two forces that have a significant impact on our lives. They are –
The spiritual component has been discussed at length, now we need to look at by far the strongest influence on our lives today – all those other pesky human beings walking around bumping into us.
We’re not quite done with the spirit yet though because if we are to believe in some kind of universal force or system that everything operates in, that includes humans too – all of us are then in fact, part of the system.
It’s pretty clear whether you believe in anything spiritual or not, we all operate within a system that is intimately connected. From a real world physical point of view, the connections from one system to another are obvious – from how one economy impacts another, how one eco-system impacts another, to how one transport system can impact another (for example bus drivers going on strike leading to overcrowded roads and trains).
Systems interact with other systems and much of the process is so infinitely complex that on an individual level we can never hope to understand what’s going on. There’s simply too much happening at once and too many interdependencies for us to ever become aware of.
That’s fine – and much like we may never hope to “understand” how the universe works, yet we still function in it, we have been given tools that operate reasonably well despite the complexity of the system we live in – our body and mind. The human body and mind are incredibly good at keeping things simple, at least when it comes to our own conscious awareness and intelligence. True we can become over stimulated with “too much information” but at the end of the day, if you focus on the simple, life is very simple.
One of the more enlightening ideas for global positive change is the concept of oneness. Some people consider oneness in a very religious or spiritual context – for example, we are all God therefore we are all one. Scientists might say at a quantum level the particles that make up my body do not distinguish any boundary with your body, so we are essentially made up of the same thing.
No matter what you believe, taking into account our physical existence using our senses, what we see every day are lots of human beings walking around who do not look or feel connected – we are all individuals with unique bodies. Through communication, touch, shared experiences and emotions we may feel closer or “more connected” but at the end of the day, attempting to convince someone we are all one is going to take belief rather than pragmatic realism.
That doesn’t make the concept any less important, and here’s why…
The book Conversations With God, which I discussed in the previous chapter, had a wonderful idea about oneness. The idea simply states that if we all really experienced collective oneness, then to see another person suffer would mean seeing ourselves suffer.
If anyone else on this planet is hungry, then I would experience that hunger as my own, which would force me to take action to change that as quickly as I can – to get that person fed. If there is one thing that stimulates action towards change, it is suffering.
For a moment I considered what life would be like if we all were connected emotionally, as in what I feel, you feel, and vice versa. If that was the case, the shared experience would be so strong that your condition – and everyone else’s on the planet – would impact me to the point where I would be compelled to make sure everyone had their basic needs met. I couldn’t tolerate the feeling if anyone was hungry or cold or depressed – because I would feel it too.
As a practical reality, I don’t know how this would work, but I believe as a concept, it has merit. That being said, since we don’t feel what other people feel, it’s more a fantasy right? Well not quite.
Although we don’t experience the impact of other human beings condition immediately, we do eventually because of the interconnectivity of the systems we operate in. The problem is that we don’t identify the connection because it’s too far away from our immediate senses, or too complicated an interdependency for us to understand.
If you know the concept the Butterfly Effect then you know what I am talking about. One flap of an insect’s wing can set off weather patterns on the other side of the world completely unknown to the little bug. If you multiply this idea by a near-infinitely complex system of countless variables, you can be forgiven for not realizing how much of an impact we all have on each other. That doesn’t mean it should be ignored.
Accepting that your actions impact everything else on this planet is important because it empowers you. What you think, feel and then decide to do thus becomes so much more important. You’re not just changing your immediate experience, you’re creating ripple effects across the globe.
With this power comes great responsibility, so ensuring you make decisions in line with the kind of person you want to be and the kind of impact you want to have on other humans and the planet, is critical.
This might seem complex, but it can be made much simpler if you focus on your immediate sphere of influence – the people around you right now.
Although you are not aware of the grander impact you have, you definitely are aware of how much influence you have on the people around you. These people also greatly influence your own behavior.
Examples of this abound everywhere. What we consider normal behavior is defined by what people around you do. If working a 9 to 5 job is normal, sitting in traffic at 9 and 5 is normal too. Heading out to dinner and eating slaughtered animals is normal if everyone does it. Watching TV is normal, as is not working on weekends, getting married, buying material possessions, getting drunk on a friday night, having dessert after dinner, wearing shoes to protect your feet, or countless examples.
Some of this stuff makes sense, some of it is just what we do because the system has evolved this way and the majority conform to it.
It gets really interesting when you apply the 80/20 rule to these relationships. There are only a small number of people, likely about somewhere in a ratio of five to ten (let’s say seven), who occupy 80% or more of your thoughts and focus when it comes to the decisions you make and how you spend your time.
This is why the people you surround yourself have so much power over the quality of your life and the kind of person you are. You’re income level is very likely to be the average of your friends. What you strive for will always be just a bit more than what your neighbors and peers have. You will think as big (or small) as the people around you and whom you come into contact with.
The point I am making here is not to just go out and surround yourself with the kind of people who inspire you. That is definitely a good idea, I recommend it, but the point I am making is how strong a source of influence these people are on you.
Your connection to these people is the single most powerful force in your life in terms of how you think, what you consider acceptable, what you strive for and what kind of person you want to be.
This gets really interesting when you consider another concept – the idea of six degrees of separation.
This concept states that all of us are connected by only six degrees of separation. If you only look at six relationships deep in your friendship circle (your friends of friends of friends and so on to six levels) you can effectively touch every single human being on this planet.
Think about that for a moment.
What you say and what you do are observed by your immediate friends and family. What you say and do has a profound effect on what they say and do. You are one of the single most powerful forces for change in their life simply because of the relationship you have with them. They will model you, start to think like you, act like you – often without even realizing it – because of how important you are to them and how much contact they have with you.
Those people you influence, in turn, influence another group of people – their closest friends and family. What they do and say has a profound impact on their circle of seven, and so on. If your friends modify their behavior and how they think because of what you did or said, this will impact their friends, which can impact their friends, and so on. This continues exponentially, with potentially any single idea you come up with having the power to reach anyone on the planet.
That’s an incredible concept and an empowering idea if you want to be a positive change agent for this planet, because you don’t have to look any further than your own actions to have an impact.
It’s been stated by many key figures in human history that all change begins with one human being making one choice. Now I hope you can see why this is true.
You simply deciding to be the example of what you want to change is the agent – it’s the spark – that can lead to a global adoption of the idea you are representing. All you need to do is start behaving differently and stick to it for long enough to have an impact. If what you represent is beneficial to enough people, they will adopt it and the viral distribution will begin with a potential global impact.
I want to make it clear that at the start of all change you are the single most important ingredient. Never underestimate this. You are responsible for what happens in your life, and through your power of influence, you impact those around you, and then those around them and so on. Not everything you do and say will have a huge impact of course, but it all starts there.
If you want to be a force for positive change, make the change in your life first, that’s all you need to worry about.
Some people, myself included, have reached a point where they derive value in their lives by impacting other people. What gives you meaning and purpose is recognition for helping others. As I said at the start of this article, a truth about human existence is that in order to experience a sense of purpose within you on an emotional level, you must focus on improving the lives of other people through your creation process. When people consume what you create and benefit from it, you feel value.
This concept goes beyond financial success. It’s gratifying to enjoy a monetary return in exchange for your creation, but at some point that money no longer has intrinsic value itself. It’s simply a form of energy that is usable to have further positive impact on more people.
Although all you need to consider are your own behaviors and thought patterns, you may decide to expand your impact so you can help more people. You then need to consider distribution channels and leverage points, especially when you have a powerful idea that you know can change the world. Yes you need to be the example, but you also need to find communication paths to show your example to more people.
There are countless ways to do this, and some people make it their business to study and test how ideas spread. They are called marketers. As a marketer, this is exactly what you do. This is the same for television presenters, disc jokeys, politicians, authors or any person who attempts to exert influence on others in a proactive manner to inform, change behavior or elicit some kind of response, like create joy in others.
…And yes, this includes bloggers too.
I write articles like this with much joy knowing what I publish reaches thousands of people. I exert an above average influence in terms of the number of people I reach because I have consistently exerted a behavior for a number of years – I’ve built a popular blog by publishing my words every week. I have distribution and although I will never know exactly who I reach or how I impact them, I do have a positive impact on a lot of people. This gives me great satisfaction.
Consider also that whom you influence may also have great influence. Great ideas can spread remarkably quickly when key influential people all decide to get on board and share them with their people. This is why certain figures who have significant distribution, for example Oprah, can so easily manifest massive change. Your power to change the world is a function of the influence you have and the influence the people you have influence over have, and so on.
What’s truly incredible about all of this is you don’t even know who you impact. What you write on your blog, or say to a friend over lunch, or mention when you get some exposure in a newspaper, or how you react when someone steals your car, or any single thing you say or do in your life can impact others, who then share their perception of your words or actions.
Your ideas might be blogged about, or appear in a book, or trigger an idea for a movie, or make it on to radio, or inspire a poet or author, or sway a politician, or influence a soldier, or have impact on any person on this planet in remarkable ways, most of which you will never become aware of.
Don’t underestimate this, you truly can change the world simply by making the change yourself first, which results in convincing a few key people to also make the change. This can happen overtly because you choose to focus on spreading your idea, or simply because others observed what you did or said passively – and you didn’t even realize it.
It must be noted that all of this is subjective to what people consider positive.
Hitler considered expanding his power and killing certain people as the right thing to do and for a lot of people they shared his belief and supported it. Enough people opposed it too, so eventually as a collective one idea defeated another, but you can see that the system supports all ideas – there is nothing that it views good or bad – it’s up to the people in the system to decide and respond appropriately.
What is right or wrong is purely a moral judgement based on what is true for you. I’ve already explained that truth only exists in the eye of the beholder, however when enough people all agree on a perception of truth, they can exert very strong influence. This is how entire cultures evolve.
It is my hope that the end result of what you create are pleasant emotions or at least a sense of peace and contentment, or inspiration and motivation in the people you impact, just as it is my intention to do so with my writing.
However understand that, especially as your influence expands, you will not always have positive impact because we don’t all share the same values. This is of course a deliberate mechanism – we need the polarity (the differences of perception) in order to understand our choices – and to force us to make them in the first place (to act to change what we don’t like or pursue what we do).
You must be careful because everything is open to interpretation and the system is infinitely complex. You may not realize what your true impact is further along the system and you may not like it.
Now you know the power you have to influence others, don’t forget you’re being influenced all the time too. Most people on this planet don’t realize the impact others have on them. It’s very easy to be ignorant to how much power people have over you because you respond with impulse choices, you let your ego exert itself and take control when it feels the need to justify itself, or you default to learned behaviors or societal conditioning without evening realizing it.
The first awareness necessary is a realization that you are being influenced and may respond unconsciously. You have hopefully developed you’re ability to monitor your own thought patterns by now and also avoid defaulting to ignorant responses. It’s absolutely critical you apply these skills to how you respond to the people around you, who have the strongest influence over you.
I’ve often managed to make myself feel miserable simply by comparing my life to my friends or people I know. Since we are all gifted with different skills, we look different, have different upbringings and personalities, operate in different conditions and think differently, we are going to have different experiences. As a result, when friends experience something we don’t have, or we are struck with “bad luck”, it’s natural to cross compare our life to those around us. We use this as the framework to judge our condition.
One of the most powerful realizations I came to was to remove the framework I created from drawing upon the circumstances of the people around me. If I look at other people’s lives and choices without judgement or comparison – in other words I don’t reflect everything around me back to about me (we all do this way too much) – then I give myself the clarity to see others experiences as I choose.
If you do this you gain the ability to stop and simply take on board the information as is, then interpret it in a way that it benefits you. As I stated earlier in this series, this can be something as simple as seeing other people’s success as a motivating tool for your own success, rather than a way to make yourself feel bad because you don’t possess what others have. It’s a simple switch, but a powerful one.
Understand that unless you remove yourself from all other humans (becoming a hermit is an option!) you will always have to deal with this very complex and very powerful source of influence over you. Choose to use it as a force for what you want and to make your life and those around you better.
The keys to changing your life for the better are now in your hands. I’ve delivered to you a system for creating the change you want in your life that depends entirely on you. There is no external condition that can control you if you take on board these ideas wholeheartedly.
You are only responsible for your own thoughts, feelings and actions, and in the end, that is all that matters. Know that as a change agent you exert a tremendous amount of influence over the people around you and because of the interconnected relationships between all of us, your life becomes an example for the world to follow.
That’s a huge responsibility that must be respected. You must be the best example you can be because others today and in the future will be influenced by you whether you like it or not.
From a micro scale, your children, family, friends and peers are influenced by you. You, and others around you, can use communication mediums to reach more people and thus influence more people, however your responsibility remains the same:
You are the best example we will ever have, so hold yourself accountable not just to yourself, but to everyone, and understand how very important you are.
See other people as an extension of yourself and you will care for them as you care for yourself. This will motivate you to be a better person and to care for others with a level of love you have reserved for yourself previously. If you do this, you will never make decisions that lead to things you don’t like happening to yourself or anyone else. When enough people adopt this idea, then true global positive change occurs.
Thank you so much for reading this article to the end, and the end of this series on positive change.
When I began writing this series I had a few ideas I wanted to share, which initially I thought would be enough for one article. As I wrote the first chapter, I began to see a framework develop – a collection of ideas and concepts that have allowed me to make an incredible transformation over the past ten years of my life.
I realized then I was not writing an article, I was writing a series, with each new chapter bringing up new ideas and concepts, creating a path to follow, which I didn’t see the end of until I ended it here now. However this is not the final end as next I will transform these articles into a manifesto, which I will distribute from a new blog I plan to launch next year.
These ideas I have shared with you are things I have lived. It’s taken me years to first become aware of them, then to begin to practice them and finally make them part of who I am. I still do this every day of my life, hence writing this article series has been just as much for me as I wrote it for you. It helps to remind me what kind of person I want to be.
Take these ideas away with you and apply them where they are beneficial. This is not meant to be a doctrine of any kind, it’s merely what has worked for me and I’ve seen it work for other people too.
We are all operating in the same universal system governed by the same laws, hence it makes sense that adopting certain behaviors, expanding your awareness and taking responsibility for your actions is critical for every person reading this – that includes you.
I’ll leave you now with one final point, something that gives me great comfort when faced with realities I do not like and struggle to accept.
EVERYTHING WILL BE ALRIGHT.
Accepting that everything will be okay and living life with acceptance of that as fact, rather than resistance to life itself and all the ups and downs that goes with it, has brought me much comfort and peace.
I hope this article series has had a similar impact on you too and I have helped you on some level.
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P.S. If you’ve not read the earlier parts in this series, I strongly recommend you do so by reading these articles in the following order: