Be sure to scroll to the bottom of this post for a PDF version and other notes.
If you’re new to Daily Prompts, you may want to start at the beginning of the series here.
Year______ Month_______Day______Consecutive Practice Days_____Missed Days______
“Be the change you want to see in the world”. Gandhi
I think most of the time this quote is interpreted as; “Be an example for the behaviors you’d like others to display”. But there is another way to interpret this wise saying…
Act as if the world is the way you want it to be.
When we look at success principles, self-help books, and inspirational memes, there seems to be two camps:
1) “HUSTLE! Work hard, persevere, be disciplined, wake up earlier than your competitor, don’t stop until you’re rich or dead.”
2) “Dream and the Universe will respond. If you aren’t getting what you want, you either haven’t wished hard enough, believed with enough faith, or you haven’t been specific enough in your vision. The “Law of Attraction” works if you just do it right.”
These two options seem like opposite approaches, and in some sense they are. I happen to think the first one will get you further than the second, but those aren’t the only two options. Like most of what we are taught these days, the above represents a false dichotomy; that you either must endure the pain of arduous labor, or you must have faith and go with the flow. I prefer option 3:
3) Practice becoming the person who is living the future you want.
Option 1 gets at least two things right; you must take ownership of your life and you must act. Where it goes wrong is that more is not better and if your work makes you miserable, I think maybe you are doing the wrong work. The “Work, Hustle, Kill”, mentality is glorified as being a sign of good character. I personally don’t see the virtue in living to work. I also think there is a real danger in developing the habit of never being satisfied.
Remember when I described Gratitude as a skill rather than an emotional reaction? Well, being dissatisfied and hungry for ever-higher achievement is also a “skill”. The problem is that once you achieve more, you have developed the habit of feeling like you need to achieve even more. We see this played out all the time among the rich and famous. Enough is never enough. Happiness has been pushed out to a future that never comes.
I have no problem with wealth. But I’d rather be poor and happy with loving relationships, than rich and lonely with an insatiable hunger for more. Better yet, we can plan on being financially successful and have strong connections and a sense of peace and contentment. You can have it all. The key is to practice all of those things now.
Option 2 gets some things right as well. Humans have developed the capacity for imagination that can use abstract concepts as tools to guide us in the real world. Having vision for a potential future is powerful. Every machine, every building, every piece of technology we use began as a vision before it was created. Having a Vision (dream, goal, wish) can help guide you in your actions and help you more easily spot opportunities when they arise. That’s why we will be exploring more about creating a Vision later on. But The Law of Attraction misses a key element: action.
You cannot steer a parked car. You must be moving in order to change direction. The Universe may very well provide all that you dream of, but only if you are showing it that you are alive and kicking. More on Action later.
My point in bringing all this up now is to urge you to continue to develop the skill of feeling grateful. If your vision of the future is a happier, healthier, wealthier you, then you need to practice being grateful now. As you develop the skill of gratitude, you will then take it with you into the future. The only way for “future you” to be happy and satisfied, is if the current you cultivates those states of being now.
Practicing gratitude now, literally helps you know how to be happier in the future. Want to see change? Become it.
Write about 1 person you are grateful for. If you are in a place of loneliness and despair, it might be easier to think of a stranger that you can be grateful to. Perhaps you can muster gratitude for the farmer who made the food you’re eating, or the truck driver who brought it to your city. Maybe you’re grateful to an author, or to your great grandmother. Surely with a little effort, any one of us can think of someone to whom we are immensely grateful.
The above is an excerpt from the upcoming The Lyceum Course Journal. We will be releasing it here for free as a Daily Prompt blog post. If you would like a physical copy, we will link to it here once it is released.
I realize a daily journal prompt on a blog is a little weird. This is how I would suggest using it: Open your favorite note-taking software such as Evernote, copy and paste this post into it, and write your daily entries there.
Download a PDF version of this post here. Feel free to print it out, or access it through a PDF editor where you can type in your daily entry.
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This post series is a first draft of the future book. If you have suggestions, comments, or see errors, please reach out so that I can make the final product more valuable for you and the rest of the community. Your feedback is greatly appreciated!