Making A Difference

Many who want to make a difference often don’t get beyond their desire to make a difference. There tends to be a gap between what people say they want to do and what they actually accomplish. It’s in their hearts to benefit others but they get lost somewhere in the gap.

Fortunately, to make a difference we need only keep it simple and natural.

Evidence (and our basic intuition) points to how these three simple actions can provide us ways to make a difference––When we have clarity about what we want to be involved in, when we engage with others and with our natural surroundings through stories and conversations, and, when we actually commit––we experience a resulting happiness and meaningfulness.

Where do you want to make a difference?

To get clarity around where you want to put your energy and time, use the practice of living intentionally. Take the time to develop personal intentions, where you have done some investigation into how you want to spend your time. Start with what you enjoy doing. There are many books and resources to help you develop intentions (see below).“Before I can tell my life what I want to do with it, I must listen to my life telling me who I am.” ― Parker J. Palmer, Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation

Our life is made up our stories. The stories and conversations we share with each other act as a thread that binds a truly purposeful life together,–– a life that is truly engaged with others and the natural environment.  Listen to the stories you tell yourself and others. And, take the time to listen to other’s stories. Instead of texting on your phone while waiting; visit with someone. Engage yourself. In these shared stories we find a way to make a difference. “Epictetus said that people are disturbed not by the events but by the meanings they make of them. Stories contain the meaning we make of our lives events.” –Lewis Mehl-Madrona, Narrative Medicine

This includes engaging in conversations with the natural world.  (Yes, holding a conversation with a tree can be a very good thing).

There’s nothing complicated or expensive about living purposefully and meaningfully. And we don’t have to travel to some exotic place to “find ourselves,” or to make a difference. The most effective practices that afford us the most happiness and meaning are done within the context of our daily lives. This is the premise of all my work – bringing our ideas and practices into our daily life. The place we make a real difference is within our own personal lives.

Finally, we can take our desires to make a difference and commit to something (even before we have it all figured out). Sign up for the conference, put your commitments down on your calendar, make a promise to others.

To transform your desire to make a difference into making more of a difference in your life (thus making life more meaningful)—here are some books and resources to consider —

A great place to start is with a favorite of mine,–– with author and activist, Parker J. Palmer. His books and resources provide a place within and without to heal the many sorrows we now experience from our disconnection to self and others.  His recent book and groups: Healing the Heart of Democracy: The Courage to Create a Politics Worthy of the Human Spirit invites us to fully participate in making a difference. He invites us to explore the outer expressions of our hearts and minds. There are opportunities to meet with others doing this healing work at: The Center for Courage & Renewal. 

Poet, and author Ruth L. Schwartz, Ph.D., Her recent book, Soul on Earth: a guide to Living and Loving Your Human Life covers such topics as transforming victim consciousness, living with intention and finding support. She provides a website rich with ways to creatively evolve and connect with her and others.  “Healing doesn’t require us to change the past, only the way we hold that past within ourselves.” –Ruth L. Schwartz

And, my book, Wheel of Initiation and the Initiation Course provide ways to live with intention and meaning. Through the book you are given a simple template to go on a spiritual pilgrimage within the context of your daily life or to join with others locally in your own Initiation Circle. My next Initiation Course will begin in October of 2013 in Prairie du Sac Wisconsin.

Each day can be a destiny day, a day to make a natural and meaningful difference.

Finally,  a wonderful read to add to this is David Loy’s, The World is made of Stories. “People are “punished” or “rewarded” not for what they have done but for what they have become, and what we intentionally do is what makes us what we are.”– David R. Loy, Money, Sex, War, Karma: Notes for a Buddhist Revolution


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