Was this Cathy’s idea of a joke? She drew her mouth into a tight-lipped smile and tried to convincingly say, “Thank you,” to her friend. The birthday gift she had just opened was a necklace with a simple silver tag that said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” It was paired with a pearl charm that she guessed was supposed to represent the world.
The lunch Cathy treated her to at her favorite restaurant was much better and she did sincerely thank Cathy for it with a hug and an air kiss when they parted. Driving home her mind drifted back to the necklace she had put on to please her friend. She didn’t really get the quote. How could any one person change the world? Cathy was really into that airy-fairy stuff. But she could see what Cathy didn’t—a world where horrific things happened, people who were apathetic and uncaring, and the obstacles and ensuing struggles that life constantly throws at you.
Her short drive home came to a standstill as traffic had come to a halt. It finally started moving at a snail’s pace and everyone appeared to be jockeying to position their vehicles into the left lane, so she did the same. Inching along she could finally see that an accident was the culprit causing the delay, but she would soon be past it. A lone vehicle was trapped in the right-hand lane and she could imagine how frustrated the driver felt as no one was letting her in. Normally she would have driven by too, but for some reason she stopped her vehicle and let the car go ahead of her. The woman gratefully waved her thanks, and she was glad she helped her out.
She was so late now, but she still had to stop at the grocery store; there was nothing to eat at the house. She rushed into the store and quickly picked up the few items she needed for dinner. As she approached the check-out, she could see there was only one line open and three shoppers who had full carts. Great, I’m going to be here forever!
As she took her position at the end of the line, the woman in front her looked back and then said, “You only have a couple of items, go ahead of me. It’s crazy that they only have one aisle open.” She gratefully stepped ahead, and unbelievably the two other shoppers with loaded carts who were ahead of her also waved her by them. She flashed a grateful smile to each and she was back in her car in no time. Looking into her rear-view mirror to pull out of her parking space she could see the necklace reflecting back at her. Hmm, be the change you wish to see, she mused, as she guided her car backwards.
Over the following weeks it had almost become a game to her as she began to consciously interact with people the way she wished to be treated herself. She wore the necklace often, but even when she wasn’t wearing it, the quote had overshadowed her doom-and-gloom attitude, becoming a new mantra for her, an elevated set point for her way of being. She found herself naturally smiling more, paying attention to her words and how they affected others, and she even started offering her co-workers help and encouragement at her job.
The changes were subtle at first, she simply felt lighter, happier, and more optimistic. But then amazing things started to happen. It seemed like she was surrounded by friendly, helpful people more often than not, things came easier and more effortlessly to her, and the higher-ups at work noticed how new-hires were coming to her for help and advice, and she was offered a newly-created training position in her company.
Mulling over the miracles happening in her life she realized that she did see a change in the world—her world—and she wondered if that somehow affected the world in general. Picking up the phone she wanted to invite Cathy to lunch to talk about it and to sincerely thank her, this time, for the gift she gave her—the gift of change.