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What do you want? This is a question that is asked of us throughout our lives. "What do you want?"
We ask this question of babies when they are crying and we can't figure out if they're hungry, wet, or what… What do you want? We ask this question of the child who is seeking our attention. We ask this of a student or young adult trying to decide on a career. We ask this of ourselves concerning our vacation plans. We ask this standing in front of a smorgasbord. We ask this question when we need to make a decision, a choice.
Yet, it is a question that we sometimes avoid answering and simply go with whatever seems easier or less painful at the moment. Sometimes we answer that question with a short-term view of what we want in our life, and sometimes we answer it with a long-term goal in mind.
What Do You Want?
Since we are the key players in creating the scenarios for our life, it is a question that we need to ask ourselves more often -- actually, maybe we need to ask ourselves this question constantly.
Think about it. If you are in an unpleasant situation, by asking yourself what you want, your course of action will become clear -- or you will at least have an idea of which direction to head for. And if you are in a confusing situation, asking yourself what you want, will help guide your steps.
Let's say you are in a relationship where you are being abused, either physically or emotionally. What do you want? If you do not want this type of relationship, then asking yourself what you want is the first step in choosing how to handle the situation.
What do you want? Do you want happiness? Now you may say that's a stupid question. Everyone wants happiness. Yet, if that is so, then why don't we all have it? Obviously, some of us (at least some of the time) are making choices that do not result in happiness.
The important thing for us to realize is that asking ourselves what we want is only the first step. The next step involves taking action. If you want a new job, in most cases to get that job you need to take action. Read the want ads, talk to people who might know about job openings, fill out job applications, get some more training, etc. All of these are action steps. To create or attract what you want, in this case a new job, you have to do something. You have to take action.
I Want To Be Happy!
It seems that one of the basic desires of people is to be happy. Everyone wants to be happy -- whatever that means for them.
The outward manifestation of happiness can look very different for someone living in hunger and someone living in opulence; for someone in a war-torn country and someone watching war on TV; for someone in a battered relationship and for someone living alone. We all have our own vision of happiness, just as we have our own vision of peace.
Yet, whatever our vision, we all need to "do something" to make our vision, our dream, come true.
I Want Peace!
I have a vision of peace on earth -- starting first with inner peace, and moving out to include everyone. Many of us have this vision. We have put bumper stickers on our car that say "Visualize World Peace". We wear t-shirts that say "Give Peace a Chance". We may "remove ourselves" from the world because we want inner peace.
This is not a new vision. This is not a new dream. However, as in each era, in each generation, in each life, it is a vision that needs action -- that needs commitment -- that needs to be put into practice. However, as Mother Teresa once replied when asked why she did not participate in anti-war demonstrations in the 60s, "I'll never go to an anti-war demonstration, but as soon as you have a pro-peace rally, I'll be there."
We need to ask ourselves what we really want. Do we want peace? Do we want peace inside our own beings, inside our country, and all over the world? If the answer to this is yes, then we need to take action. We need, of course, to "start at home". We need to stop fighting within our own self -- we need to start accepting and loving our own self. Then we need to create peace with our family members, our co-workers, our neighbors.
Creating peace does not mean you have to be lovey-dovey with everyone. It simply means that you respect their right to be -- whether they choose to be grumpy, or vote for a different political party, or eat and dress or love differently than you do.
Choosing Peace (or Love, or Compassion, or Joy...)
When you choose peace, you stop taking actions or saying things that create war. When you choose love, you stop doing or saying things that are hate-filled. When you choose joy, you stop feeling sorry for yourself.
Whatever your choice, you must think before you speak. You choose love over anger, over grudges, over revenge. You learn to forgive your mate, your co-worker, your neighbor, your family. You remember that they too are human and that they make mistakes -- that in their own quest for happiness they may make choices that you don't understand, or even that you are certain cannot bring them happiness, yet you grant them the right to make their own choices.
We all have our own choices to make. In our own personal lives, we have many decisions to make that affect not only ourselves but the people around us. Our choices do affect the whole world.
Most of us reading this live in affluent countries. After all, this article is published on the Internet, so in order to read it you have to be sitting in front of a computer or have a cell phone, or someone who was sitting in front of a computer printed it out for you. We are rich -- we have a stable roof over our heads, we have some form of income, we have food sources all around us - supermarkets abound. Thus our obsession with security needs to move from the food and shelter arena, into the need for a secure world - one which is at peace, one where people are not starving, one where people are not afraid for their own life or the lives or those they love.
I am of the same belief as Mother Teresa. One does not fight war with war. One creates peace by "waging peace". One creates a loving world by being a loving person. Our actions have to take place both in our own personal lives and in the global arena.
What Do You Truly Want?
Do you want peace, both within and without? If your answer is yes -- if we answer yes -- then we need to take action. We need to start living peace, at home, at work, and in our world. If what we want is love, then... same answer. Whatever our choice, we must take action both within ourselves and in the outside world.
Many of us feel powerless. We think we have no control over "world peace". Yet that is far from true. Others think that they can meditate us all into world peace. While this of course is very important, since it is a manifestation of "as above, so below", we need to remember that we are physical as well as spiritual beings. We need to work at creating peace, both inner and outer, in the spiritual, mental and emotional realms.
But we also need to create peace, both inner and outer, in the physical realm. We have to take actions that bring us peace. We have to speak and live peace. We can't just sit on top of a figurative mountain top, and simply visualize peace, then come off our mountain, and cuss and curse at the person who cuts us off in traffic -- or the person who seeks to hurt us in some way.
We need to take actions that will bring us peace. We as a world are headed towards destruction -- unless we take action NOW. We can no longer be armchair spectators and watch the world go by. We need to take responsibility for what is going on in our world.
The United States' motto, in a sense, is "we the people". Well, what do "we the people" want? We need to let our desires and aspirations known to the ones who are making decisions in the direction to lead this country. We need to take action. If we sit back and do nothing, we are responsible for the results.
Harsh words? Maybe, but nevertheless true. It is our planet. It is our world. We are its caretakers. We are its friend. We are its protecting angels.
I saw again the other night one of my favorite (though sad) movies: Pay It Forward. We need to pay forward all the blessings we have received. We need to be the angels that we truly are, and help create world peace and justice --- here and now. Not by using violence, not by spouting hate, not by forcing peace down anyone's throat -- but by speaking peace, by living peace, by being peace. By choosing peace and love and harmony.
What do we want? Peace? If our answer is yes, then we need to take action -- peaceful, loving actions that will bring us peace. It is our responsibility to do so. No one can do it for us. We are creating our own reality -- what will it be?
Other Choices, Same Actions
If our choice is health, then again, we have to take actions that will bring us to that goal. Whatever it is that we want, we must get clear on our vision and take steps to attain it, lovingly, and in harmony with the world around us.
We can still create the world we dream of -- one where equality, peace, love, acceptance, health, harmony and well-being exist as a real choice for all. Whatever you can do, do it now. To expand on John F. Kennedy's famous statement -- Ask not what the world can do for you, but what you can do for the world… and take action, now.
To quote 12-year-old Trevor in the movie "Pay It Forward":
"I think some people are too scared... that things could be different. I guess it's hard for some people who are so used to things the way they are, even if they're bad, to change... cause, I guess, they kind of give up. When they do, everybody kind of loses..."
Choosing Peace: Miracles are Decisions
by Scott P. Andstadt.
This book consists of 10 chapters, each of which describe key concepts leading to deeper and effortless awareness of who we really are using the eyes of God in all our activities. We see the power of love in all we encounter, as blocks to love fall away and we warm ourselves in the rays of God's gracious light.
Random Acts of Kindness
by Dawna Markova.
Named a USA Today Best Bet for Educators, this is a book that encourages grace through the smallest gestures. The inspiration for the kindness movement, Random Acts of Kindness is an antidote for a weary world. Its true stories, thoughtful quotations, and suggestions for generosity inspire readers to live more compassionately in this beautiful new edition.
Info/Order this book. Also available as an audiobook.
About The Author
Marie T. Russell is the founder of InnerSelf Magazine (founded 1985). She also produced and hosted a weekly South Florida radio broadcast, Inner Power, from 1992-1995 which focused on themes such as self-esteem, personal growth, and well-being. Her articles focus on transformation and reconnecting with our own inner source of joy and creativity.
Creative Commons 3.0: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 License. Attribute the author: Marie T. Russell, InnerSelf.com. Link back to the article: This article originally appeared on InnerSelf.com