Tag Archives: Story

Be the change

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Most of us have heard the quote “be the change you wish to see in the world.” We get it, right? Or do we?

Have you actually stopped your busy life and really thought about what it means? I don’t think I really got- got it until today, when I heard a story. Because the story moved me, I wanted to share it with you. Maybe some of you have already heard it. Either way it’s definitely a nice, short, and “sweet” tale to keep handy.
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A mother from India was very worried about her overweight son’s addiction to sweets. No matter what she did, she could not keep him away from sugary treats. Running out of ideas and absolutely desperate, she decided to bring her son to the well-respected, Mahatma Gandhi. Because Gandhi was so well-known and wise, she thought if only she could get Gandhi to tell her son to stop eating sweets, maybe then, her son would listen.

So mother and son made the trip and waited in line and waited some more. When it was their turn, the mother explained her son’s story to Gandhi. She then asked him to please tell her son to stop eating sweets as they were harming his health. She knew that her son would stop if Gandhi said so. Gandhi listened to her request and thanked the woman and son for coming. He then said, “Please come back in a week.”

The mother didn’t understand but left with her son. She was at least pleased that Gandhi agreed to see them again. After a week passed, she and her son made the trip again. They waited in line. The second time, not so patiently.

Once they could see Gandhi, the mother’s worries went away and hope filled her heart. As they approached him, he remembered them right away and thanked them for coming back. He then said firmly to the little boy, “Son, you must cease eating sweets.” The boy nodded, and the mother had a confused look on her face.

She asked, “Why, sir, did you ask us to come back a week later? Why couldn’t you tell him that last week?” 

Gandhi replied, “Because dear miss, I did not know if I, myself, could accomplish what you asked me to ask your son. I needed a week to try it myself before I could say anything. For if I could not do the task myself, how could I ask him to do it? We must be the change we wish to see in the world.”

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This story is a great reminder for all of us in our work and in our lives, especially those of us who are in positions related to well-being. Discipline and knowledge can be communicated most effectively through messengers who practice what they pass along. We all know this. We see it in our everyday lives. Most of us can spot the teacher who is the fake, and we all feel beauty and grace in the presence of someone who is doing the work.

As I begin my wellness coach training and will soon be coaching people for a living* (I already have 21 people signed up for the month of March!), there is no better time than now to recommit myself to being the change I wish to see in the world. Lately, my own readiness to follow the principles I believe in is apparent, and I am doing it. While discomfort sometimes arises with that reality, I have made the choice to not step down, and I am starting to feel the health benefits that occur from not turning away from the hard stuff.

The most effective way we can help others around us is truly to model the behavior we wish to see. Thank you Mahatma Gandhi for this lesson. I am deeply humbled and nervous and excited all at the same time to embark on such a journey in my own life.

To those reading, I hope that you, too, can create moments in your life where you feel like you can embody your vision of well-being and make your life principles into a reality.

Or if anything else, next time you want to ask someone to do something, take a minute to stop and think if you, yourself, are able to do it.

*First, wellness coaching has little to do with telling people what to do. Second, I do not necessarily believe that Mahatma telling the boy to stop eating sweets would do the boy any good, in reality. However, I do greatly appreciate the wisdom that Gandhi highlights with the importance of “practicing what you preach.”

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Storytelling: How to communicate to motivate

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Dangerous Old Woman

When was the last time you sat around a campfire, taking turns, telling or listening to stories? Do you miss that sharing? Is it lost to you, or can you open your heart and find that like an ember, that story and many stories are sitting inside you, ready to be lit afire?

This weekend my name finally made it to the top of the list at the library for the CD set, “The Dangerous Old Woman: Myths & Stories of the Wise Woman Archetype” by Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés. I first learned of Dr. Estés through her book, Women Who Run With the Wolvesbut I especially enjoy the storytelling on her CD set. If you have any curiosity about the wise woman archetype or simply love stories, I strongly urge you to look into this series. Listening to her work is like being reintroduced to stories around a campfire. So powerful and so rich.

She begins with the fairy tale of Snow White and then goes into depth about its meaning and significance. I won’t spoil the details of her insight and would if I tried, but I will say, what a talented storyteller she is! I became so enchanted and lost in story, that when I awoke from her trance I realized I hadn’t experienced such a feeling in a long time. I remembered how powerful it is to hear story rather than to simply read it or write it. I also recognized how lessons and learnings seem to gel so much better in my brain and in my heart when I hear information tied to a story.

Which got me thinking, why as adults don’t we read fables to one another? Or maybe we exchange stories in a different way, for example, through a TV series or a Youtube video or a 140 character tweet. Regardless of delivery or content, what are the stories we tell ourselves and our children nowadays? What are the modern day fairy tales circulating out there? How has storytelling been cheapened or beautified by the process of globalization? And what is the value of storytelling? Does it still have value? What is it’s purpose? Can stories still offer us life lessons? Can we use stories to motivate others?

Well I am not coming on here to dole out answers nor do I have them all, but I can say with certainty that I need stories to understand, experience and connect to my surroundings, community and myself. Stories are invaluable to me, and yet I do not always praise and honor them. With the fast pace of life I do not often allow myself to tell my story, the kind that comes from deep within my heart. And then it occurs to me, so many of us have buried our stories so deep within us. And, then, because on a daily basis we operate from our minds alone, we lose touch with the heart of our story lines – cutting ourselves off from so many things like our cultural past/present, our highest self and our very life purpose.

Even though some days it may seem like the story is dead within us and the people around us, if we shift our perspective we can see that stories are still alive and thriving and impacting the very way we experience the world. They are not dead but simply need to be rediscovered, nurtured and ultimately transformed in a way that can be shared with others. For those of you who have taken the time to discover and heal and are now ready for the sharing part, you may feel like you have a story stirring in you, ready to come out to the world. So, how are you going to tell it? Is there a right or wrong way? It depends on your goals.

If you want to tell a story to motivate or influence someone, there are some methods to consider.  Infuse your story with a little bit of strategy and you can turn your tale into something bigger that may move others into action or that may move someone to share their own story. When we are all sharing our stories, we begin to be with ourselves and with one another in a way that offers true healing, learning and connection.

To help tell your story, click below for the Communicate to Motivate video from Prevention Speaks:

Prevention Speaks is a storytelling resource for healthy change in communities that is local (from Wisconsin). This website has a lot of great links and there you can pick up your very own storytelling tool kit.

A story about stress & resiliency

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waterA young lady confidently walked around the room while leading and explaining stress management to an audience with a raised glass of water. Everyone knew she was going to ask the ultimate question, ‘half empty or half full?’… She fooled them all …. “How heavy is this glass of water?” she inquired with a smile. Answers called out ranged from 8 oz. to 20 oz.

She replied, “The absolute weight doesn’t matter. It depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute, that’s not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I’ll have an ache in my right arm. If I hold it for a day, you’ll have to call an ambulance. In each case it’s the same weight, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.” She continued, “and that’s the way it is with stress. If we carry our burdens all the time, sooner or later, as the burden becomes increasingly heavy, we won’t be able to carry on.”

“As with the glass of water, you have to put it down for a while and rest before holding it again. When we’re refreshed, we can carry on with the burden – holding stress longer and better each time practiced. So, as early in the evening as you can, put all your burdens down. Don’t carry them through the evening and into the night… Pick them up tomorrow.

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Reflection: How much stress do you carry? What would it feel like to let it go just for an evening? What’s holding you back from letting it go?

(Story courtesy of K. Guerkink)