Written by Brad Dixon

Someone intelligent once said, “We move towards what we focus on.” Every now and then, it’s important we question as a society what we are focusing on, and therefore moving towards?

Every day the world’s media report stories that fuel fear, despair, and showcase the very worst aspects of human nature. According to what permeates through on our TV screens and social media feeds, maybe we have lost our way. It’s not just our housing market that needs a correction. We as people need to recalibrate. We need to worry less about making money, moving up, having the right stuff, driving the latest model cars, and our GDP; and more about spreading resources more fairly, moving towards the best we can be, driving progress, and our purpose/happiness index.

Sometimes it takes pain or a crisis to shake us up and force a change of thinking. As humans, we are resistant to change. We are short term, quick fix, pleasure-seeking beings that gravitate towards comfort and stability. This drive towards comfort has driven us away from the simple beauty of nature and made us forget that transient discomfort is an integral part of life.  Most of our decisions have that “comfort framework” driving our choice. Our political systems are mostly short term in thinking, policy creation, and legislation. Dreaming too big and looking too far out, you risk “having your head in the clouds,” being unrealistic and losing touch with reality. I feel we all need a BIG individual vision, to give our small daily steps direction and purpose. Then, as a society, we need a collective vision to drive us ALL forward together. Governments around the world have microscopic mindsets – they focus inwards, rather than telescopic- focusing outwards on the greater good.

As individuals, and as a society, we need to dream bigger and reach further without being overawed, then put the daily habits in place to evolve towards the vision.  Without the vision to draw us on, the daily steps get lost as part of the mundane, and we lose our true sense of purpose. It’s too easy to conform, and be put off doing and thinking outside the established square. Don’t let others dissuade you from striving towards true purpose. Our purpose exists in the overlap between where your giftings lie, what you are passionate about, and what will benefit others. Pablo Picasso, one of the world’s most prolific artists with over 80,000 pieces of work, said, “The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.”

If we only live for the weekend or the yearly holiday to escape our daily mundane, the result is cumulative stress – we end up as a collective group of consumer-driven zombies, waiting for retirement so we can indulge ourselves without a thought for where our world is heading. Blend JOY and passion in your everyday activities to keep your spark alive. When joy is alive, gratitude isn’t far away, and then your ability to look outside your situation towards others in need is enhanced. When you start to focus on others and flex your generosity muscles, it makes you feel better, and will lead you towards your purpose.

Our society needs leaders to inspire a change of direction. Those of us that have enough need to strive to be more and thrive on less; to allow those of us that have less to have a little more. One of the many issues facing us (among climate change, rampant globilisation, and lifestyle related disease) is the growing gap between those that have and those that don’t. If the gap gets bigger then we all lose. As Aristotle said, “Poverty is the parent of revolution and crime.” Change will not come from our political system. Our politicians are too busy trying to score points in the debating chamber and creating policy that will ensure political survival rather than putting their necks on the line with BIG ideas to change the direction we are heading.

Any change must be led by the people. We must remember that when the majority of the people change their behaviours, the governments will be forced to follow. So how do we make a change? We start to implement daily habits that lead us towards who we want to be (with purpose, gratitude, and service in mind) and spend our money on things that reflect what we want to see in the world.

“You never change things by fighting the existing reality.
To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”
R. Buckminster Fuller

Here are my thoughts on daily solutions to CHANGE THE WORLD:

1) Use re-useable bags at the supermarket instead of plastic – we need to decrease our reliance on plastic as it is causing major problems with regard to our natural world.

2) Turn the shower to cold for the final 10sec – this short controllable segment of “discomfort” will sharpen your focus and make you feel more alive. If you’d like, progress this to longer cold showers and take up sea and lake swimming in all seasons. Getting exposed to cold has so many wellness and performance benefits.

3) Eat more plants for your own health and the health of the planet. It’s well documented that excessive meat (especially cheap processed), and highly processed/nutritionally poor food is linked to a range of health issues, and raising animals as a food source is resource heavy as well as having a large impact on our environment.

4) Give to causes that help others. Find an organisation that does good work that resonates with you –  then invest in it. There are so many great people out there doing amazing things. The Salvation Army, World Vision, The KIWI family trust, and the Moko foundation are some examples. Set up a monthly automatic payment (every little bit helps) to invest in a positive change of direction.

5) Smile more during your day. A smile is a powerful agent for positivity. The ripple effect that smiling can have on someone who is having a tough day can be dramatically uplifting. It’s not a question of if you are an influence, it’s what kind of influence you want to have.

6) Be Passionate! E.M. Forester said, “One person with a passion is better than forty people merely interested.” Find something in your day to be passionate about. Living without passion is pointless.

I’m saddened and a little scared of where the world is heading. I love my kids and know that I will adore my grandkids. I want them to have the chance to enjoy our ocean, ramble in our native bush, and interact with nature. I want to get across to everyone that there is hope to change where society is heading. We must change ourselves, and inspire others through our actions, not our opinions. Remember our walk is far more powerful as a change agent than our talk.