How to Change the World?

We can make change. Can you make change?
We can make change. Can you?

Welcome to my friend and guest post contributor, Galen Pearl:

Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.  –Rumi

“Arab Spring” is the term often used to describe an ongoing series of protests and wars spreading through the Arab world in the last two years. The term sounds promising and full of hope, although the conflicts themselves, regardless of the outcome, have caused a great deal of suffering.

I read that one slogan of the demonstrators has been Ash-shab yurid isqat an-nizam, “the people want to bring down the regime.” Many of us can understand this sentiment, whether in support of people seeking more freedom in other countries, or wanting change in our own country, or just change in our own lives.

In the United States, there has been much talk bringing down the regime (American style). But what is the regime and what does bringing it down look like? The rhetoric from the last campaign and the subsequent fiscal cliff fiasco make it hard to distinguish the regime holder from the challenger. While the two sides argue about which way to paddle, the canoe sweeps ever faster toward the rapids and the falls.

Make love, not war.

Personally, I think we had it right back in the 60s with the slogan Make love, not war. True, we were naive and had no clue about how to live that slogan in any sort of socially productive way. But I think we had the right idea in that we understood the truth of Buddha’s teaching that “Hatred never ceases by hatred, but by love alone is healed.”

Even so, we succumbed to the same mistake as those we sought to replace, by thinking that we could change things by changing others. I was like that, too. I thought I had the answer to any question about what our country should look like, and I was angry and dismissive towards anyone who disagreed with me. Make love, not war, you idiots! Hmm.

Changing ourselves is how we change the world.

Gandhi encouraged us to “be the change we want to see in the world.” Making love instead of war means being love. Vishnu understands this. His tagline for this blog is “Change yourself. Change the world.” Those aren’t two separate acts. Changing ourselves is how we change the world. In fact, it’s the only way to change the world.

So we start with bringing down our own regime, experiencing our own Inner Spring.

My Inner Spring began years ago when I knew I needed to change my life. My regime was based on fear and governed by threats. If I didn’t control my world, meaning everything and everyone outside of myself, then disaster was sure to happen. I don’t know that I brought down my regime as much as it sort of fell down by itself. It was not sustainable and began to crumble in spite of my frantic efforts to maintain it.

I finally surrendered to the inevitable, and only then, in the relinquishment of force, did I discover the lightness of being, our natural state of joy. I’ve since learned that the way we bring down our regime and experience our Inner Spring is by practicing the qualities we want to see in our world. As the bumper sticker says, compassion is revolution. So is joy, forgiveness, kindness, gratitude. And as we manifest our Inner Spring, World Spring is sure to follow.

Galen Pearl is one of my favorite bloggers and a wise teacher.  She regularly posts though-invoking reflections on her blog, 10 Steps to Finding Your Happy Place. Her practical and relevant book on happiness can be found here. I’ve found it to be a life-changer. * Photo credit.

What about you? What does you current regime look like? Is there anything in it that you want to bring down or transform? Are you living your Inner Spring? What would that look like?



  1. Galen is one of my favorites, too, Vishnu! Thanks for featuring her on you blog. And, yes, I agree – we must become the change we wish to see in the world.

    1. Thanks for your kind words, Martha. It’s so easy to see how we want the world to change. It’s more of a challenge to think about how we need to change ourselves. Thanks for commenting.

  2. This post was reading for the Rumi quote at the beginning alone.

    Very nicely done Galen and a message we should be battering home again and again.

    Vishnu, I think you need to change your hairstyle mate, maybe a shaven head perhaps?

    1. Tim, I love that quote, too. About Vishnu’s hair, maybe we could all submit doctored up photos of what we think he should do with his hair! Vishnu, you could have a contest–ha! (Although personally, Vishnu, I think your hair is fine. Maybe Tim is just jealous?! On the other hand, I’ve loved shaved heads ever since Yul Brynner was in The King and I!) Thanks for commenting.

  3. All change must spring from within is my credo, Galen. That Rumi quote is one of the most beautiful and true quotes I’ve ever read. You are such a great teacher and can turn any situation into a fantastic learning point. Hugs!

    Thank you Vishnu. Pleasure to be here.

  4. What a wonderful post, Galen! I love the idea of an Inner Spring. I actually had a question about that specific idea. What do you think are the necessary conditions for the Inner Spring to take place? It is easy to get so caught up with practical matters that this very necessary inner work gets pushed to the side and ignored. If there is one thing that best facilitates this experience, what is it? I hear what you are saying about practicing the good we want to see in the world but how do you get to the point where you want to start with yourself?:)

    1. Bjorn, What a great question! I think the most simple answer is that we get to a place where we want to change more than we want to stay the same. For me, that point came when I realized that how I was living my life was not sustainable. I was exhausted by trying to control things beyond my control. I was suffering from chronic stress, although I didn’t know it because it seemed normal to me. A health crisis brought this all to my attention and motivated me to do what I needed to to to change my life.

      So, for example, someone might be motivated to change because of health, or to save a marriage, or to be a better parent, or because of chronic unhappiness. We change, I think, when we realize that we have choices about all of these situations. We are not victims of our world; we are creators of our world.

      You asked if there is one thing that best facilitates this experience. I think the answer to that is found in this poem by Anais Nin.


      And then the day came,
      when the risk
      to remain tight
      in a bud
      was more painful
      than the risk
      it took
      to Blossom.

      So the best facilitator of inner change seems to be pain! That was true for me. Not everyone has to reach a crisis as serious as mine, though. I was stubborn, and yes, very afraid of change. Smarter people will catch on faster and make changes before they get into crisis. The first step is knowing that we can change.

      Thanks for your insightful question. I hope this answer helped a bit. If you want to talk about it further I would be glad to. Thanks for your comment.

      1. This was in fact and insightful question and I’m wondering if I should post your answer Galen as a future guest post? haha

        Thanks Bjorn and Galen for your response.

        Realizing that changing is a choice and embracing that knowledge is really a key to inner growth, development and stepping stone to changing ourselves and the world around us.

          1. Not to turn this comment thread into a book, but I wanted to thank both of you for the responses. Personal change is one of the most interesting, inspiring topics that I know. I especially loved the poem. Thank you so much!

  5. Galen, thanks for pointing me over here. Make love, not war, is one of my favorite quotes as well, and it will always be a perfect base to begin from. Many inspiring thoughts with this post, so happy you are a guest here! A World Spring is a wonderful thought, and so it must begin from our own front doors…. I’m in!

  6. Thank you for leading us to this wonderful site and wonderful post, Galen! I love your humble and positive spirit that sees to the heart of the matter. I have spent a lot of time trying to change others, too, and it got me nowhere. I love the term “Inner Spring.” I’m working on that, though I would never have thought to call it that. I love the Rumi quote also.

  7. Dear Galen, I really liked this post. I think it’s absolutely true that changing ourselves changes the world. Plus, I have found that by practicing the qualities that we want to see in others, we get what we want, too. Case in point: I used to obsess about finding my “soul mate” and made an exhaustive list of the qualities that he should have. But it was only after I started on focusing on attaining those qualities for myself that I met my husband. Hooray for Inner Springs! 🙂

    1. Jammie, That is an excellent example. I told the same thing to my daughter. So I will tell her your story to let her know that Mom sometimes has good advice! Thanks for your comment.

  8. I have been working on changing my inner self for a while now. I have learned much along the way. I always had to have everything in our home perfect. The decor had to match and it had to be my taste to be perfect. Well, lately I realized not everything needed to be my way. Our home needs to be a comfort to each of us and a retreat from our outside life. I have released my control and allowed my husband to help with our furniture and decorating. It turns out it is not so bad after all. Its actually very relaxing to have help.

    1. Bonnie, That is a big big change. I’m impressed! I’m so glad that you have been able to relinquish some control, and relax and enjoy your home. Was there anything in particular that made you want to change, or that helped you change? I’d like to know. Thanks for commenting.

      1. Galen, It was a big change and did not come easy. I still have to stop some times and remember to share control. I expect that getting older and a little wiser helped me realize what was more important.

  9. Great quotes and thoughts! I found if I want to influence and positively impact others it first starts with my ability to lead myself well. If we can’t lead our selfs we will not be able to lead or change other people. Powerful post!

    1. Charlotte, You’ve just mentioned two of my favorite bloggers–Vishnu and Sandra! Glad you stopped by to read my guest post. You will enjoy Vishnu’s blog very much.

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