“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Gandhi
Gandhi's wise words have always been my personal mantra. Every day, all day.
His words have been behind the mission of Challenge to Change from the day of its inception to now.
“Be the Change” are the words that guide us at the studio as we work to spread love and kindness in the world.
These words are why we strive to train educators and children to be the best versions of themselves.
It is why we take steps every day to make the world around us better than we found it.
It is why we use our actions to share the power of thinking positively with others.
Gandhi's words remind us every day why we continue to teach the tools of mindfulness and emotional intelligence to all.
We are so proud of our work. Of our staff. Of our volunteers. Of our students.
Of every single Change Maker that resides in our community.
We have all had to use our mindfulness tools these past nine months. We have had to use them not only to survive in this time, but to thrive. This holiday season is no different. In fact, it is more important than ever that during this time of seasonal cheer and change that we remember to practice the skills of mindfulness and emotional intelligence...that we remember to be the change we wish to see in the world.
Mindfulness is a way to be aware of and accepting towards what is happening in the moment. This means being present both internally and externally.
Mindfulness has been shown to improve relationship satisfaction, reduce stress, and to increase empathy. Mindful practices can also help reduce internal turmoil and fatigue. Mindfulness is not hard to do. It costs nothing, yet the gift it gives us is invaluable and can last a lifetime.
These seven simple acts of mindfulness are suggestions to help you be the change in your corner of the world. Make this unprecedented holiday season one to remember and also to reflect on as one you practice grace and gratitude.
1. Practice active listening. Do this with as many people you can and as often as you can. Listening with your whole self is the most precious gift you can give others. You will find that children have so much more to say and share when you look them in the eye and listen without interruption. You might be surprised at how rewarding it is to practice active listening, as well as how much more you will learn about others when you listen to really hear what they are saying. Listen to the whole message and be present when others speak. Turn off the T.V. Put away your phone. Use positive body language. Make eye contact. And smile.
2. Be open to the emotions of others. By being attentive and receptive to the people around you, you will increase your ability to connect. Observe how people are feeling during the holidays, and be open to talking openly about those feelings. Everyone has a story, and within each story are emotions. Practice compassion, empathy, and love towards others when they speak their truth.
3. Be open to a range of emotions in yourself. We are in the midst of a pandemic. Holidays can bring up a whole host of different emotions—and not all of them happy or celebratory. For many, the holidays can be reminders of loss, grief, or loneliness. You might experience these difficult feelings, especially when loved ones are absent. Allow yourself to make space and acknowledge whatever emotions come up for you rather than to simply try to get rid of them.
4. Let go of old habits or patterns that might be holding you back. Holidays come with traditions and memories, but sometimes old patterns can perpetuate negativity. It’s easy to fall into familiar patterns, but try to think about what will best serve you now. Try to be curious about what is happening inside of yourself rather than being stuck in the thoughts or feelings you might be carrying from the past. Being curious without judgement is the recipe for moving forward in a positive way.
5. Practice Gratitude. Remembering the blessings you have in your life is the easiest way to move yourself into a positive mindset. Create a gratitude list this holiday season of all the things, big and small, that you are fortunate to have. Reflect on this list several times. Perhaps you can share the gratitude list with the individuals you have put on it, or you can text them a thank you or send them a special holiday card. Be the positive change through the powerful practice of gratitude.
6. Balance the “shoulds” with awareness of your own needs. We are in the midst of a pandemic. We “should'' not have to do anything that puts us out of the comfort zone of our own needs--especially when it comes to our health. Operating on obligations and trying to please everyone else's expectations can lead to resentment and burnout. Instead of focusing solely on planning the perfect dinner or getting the perfect gift, observe how these expectations affect you. Make sure to take the time and space you need to nourish yourself before you move forward with any holiday celebrations.
7. Practice self-compassion. During a busy holiday season, don’t forget to take care of and be good to yourself. Get regular sleep and exercise, and take time to do relaxing or fun things that help you recharge. Taking care of yourself allows you to be able to be more calm and attentive when you’re with others during the holidays. You may even find that when you take care of yourself, it is possible to be kinder and more giving to others, which is all in keeping with the holiday spirit.