It's Not Our Job To Make Other People Better People
Posted on December 15 2017
First, a quick note:
I will be entirely unavailable from December 15th - December 29th while at a silent meditation retreat with no technology (or talking, or reading, or writing!), either getting super enlightened or super stir crazy (crossing my fingers for the former).
What this means for you:
- Returns will be processed before the 15th or after the 29th (and the standard 15 day return policy will be extended to accommodate this delay, so don't stress!)
- I will not be able to answer questions about fit, material, restocking, or interviews during those dates (but will happily respond when I am back!).
- You can still shop! (please do!). Orders WILL continue to be shipped (and be sure to order by December 18th for your best bet at a December 24th delivery!)
Have you been feeling a tad overwhelmed with the world these days? I have. It just seems like on every level from the macro to the micro there is so much dysfunction going on. And I think those of us in activism and those of us trying to lead more mindful lives are even more deeply affected by the challenges of this, because all we really want is for everyone to just be nice, you know?
I've spent a lot of time lately wondering how I can change others, change industries, and you know, maybe change the world a little bit. And I keep coming to the same super frustrating conclusion: I can't. I can't change other people, I can't change entire industries, and I am like this tiny speck of nothingness in this huge vast universe of endless space and time so it's not super likely I'm going to change much of the world.
But, the thing is: it's not my job to do any of those things. And it's not yours either.
(You can pause here and sigh with relief, now that the burden of the entire world is lifted from your shoulders.)
I've had to get super honest lately that the only thing I have any control over is myself. My own choices, my own actions, and my own thoughts. And half the time I'm not even winning those battles!
So before I get all worried about changing others, I need to first worry about changing myself.
And trust me, I know, that sounds hard, and uncomfortable. Plus I think I'm busy that day? But the truth is we're all imperfect (totally just by a fraction, of course). We're all doing things that are contributing to a slightly worse world, no matter how much money or time we give to charity, no matter how much fair trade we wear, no matter how plant based our food is.
So instead of worrying about why this person is being so dishonest or that corporation is being so destructive or this political party is being so....evil, I have been focusing on what I can do to be more accountable, to be more healing, and to be more loving. Instead of wishing other people would be better, I am working on making myself better.
My father used to say that when you point a finger, there is one pointing out and three pointing back. I used to roll my eyes when he's say that. But, once again, it turns out he was right (and, I wish he were still here for me to sheepishly admit that to him). When I point my finger at all that is wrong in the world, what I'm really doing is realizing that I have a lot of work inside myself left to do.
So, I've been taking a deep look into my life and noticed that maybe I'm not totally flawless (weird, right?). Take veganism for instance. Like, yes, I eat a vegan diet, and wear vegan clothing and cruelty-free make-up, and made sure I bought a vegan leather sofa and even got that amazing vegan memory foam hybrid mattress that I'm obsessed with. But I realized that I was a passive vegan, with a lifestyle built on abstinence versus action. And while I definitely want more people to do these totally good vegan things, I really can't worry too much about changing others when I still have parts of me to continue to change.
I started experimenting with how I could more active in my values. I started going to the weekly vigils at Farmer John's slaughterhouse with LA Animal Save to comfort pigs, and went to my first city council meeting to advocate for a vegan initiative I support, and even took a healthy vegan cooking class at Spork Foods to start building a new relationship to the fruits and veggies I eat. And all of these have changed me, and changed my approach to veganism in peaceful and powerful ways while deeply growing my empathy, love, and compassion.
And the funny thing is, that just from sharing my own experiences of my experiments - with no expectations of others - I know now of four people who have gone vegan. So, in changing myself, I inadvertently inspired others, and every person changing themselves in any way is doing the same thing, too.
But I also have to remember: even if I hadn't inspired anyone at all, I still accomplished the best thing I can for our world, and that is striving towards becoming a better version of myself.
I'm working on applying this idea of changing myself first in all areas of my life. When I'm upset about someone being dishonest, I've started dissecting my own words and thoughts to find ways that I can be more honest. When I get frustrated at people who are still buying fast fashion even when they know how it's made, I've started looking into how I can shop more mindfully, especially at the grocery store, since agriculture is another very broken system, and one I don't generally think nearly enough about. Whenever I see a way that I want someone else to be better or nicer or more ethical about something, I instead focus on finding how I can be better or nicer or more ethical.
This kind of work isn't glamorous. It doesn't garner a lot of praise or notice. But if you really want to change the world this is how you do it: you start by changing that super unique, beautiful, one-of-a-kind part of the world that is yourself. And honestly, maybe that's all you'll ever do, and that alone is one of the most important challenges any of us can spend a lifetime working towards.
Please note: I love getting your thoughts and feedback in the comments below, but unfortunately this system won't let me reply! If you have a question, feel fee to write me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org