Gandhi’s Top 11 Ways To Change the World

April 1, 2015

by Ravi Raman

Want to change the world for the better?

Gandhi’s life serves as a powerful reference point for how to make powerful change.

His efforts mobilized and unified over 200 million people as one voice.

Gandhi – a self-proclaimed reluctant leader – wrote his autobiography while in jail. He was arrested for civil disobedience. His words can inspire those looking to make positive change in the world today. I recommend reading this book. Then reading it again!

These are 11 of the top strategies I’ve observed Gandhi apply.

See how you can apply any or all these strategies to show up brighter and better each day. Who knows, you might even end up changing the world for the better.

(1) Align your thoughts and actions

“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”

“A man is but the product of his thoughts; what he thinks, he becomes.”

In The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz states his first agreement as “Be impeccable with your word”. This means to only say things that are truthful, and to follow through on what you say. Gandhi too was impeccable with his word.

This can manifest in small actions, like arriving on time for a meeting. It can also manifest in bigger things, like following through on a big work related commitment.

The more you speak the truth and align you actions with your commitments – the less inner conflict you will feel.

Through less inner tension, you will find that your words will have more power. What you speak will have more merit, more weight, and more impact.

The starting point for all this is to cultivate a positive and strong mindset. Meditate. Read uplifting stories. Watch inspirational movies. Commit yourself to personal growth. Tune your mind into a positive “frequency” so to speak.

(2) Actions – no matter how small – speak louder than words

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”

“In a gentle way, you can shake the world.”

“Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.”

“A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history.”

If you want to change the world, Gandhi puts it bluntly that you must “Be the change.”

The social movements were all started by an individual or small group of individuals who decided that things could be better.

Whatever it is you want to do let your actions “in a gentle way….shake the world.”

(3) Live fully each day

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”

While medical science is gifting society with longer and more productive lives; a long life is not a guarantee. We must make the most of each day.

The barrier in our abilities to make an impact are inevitably linked to our abilities to take full advantage of each and every day as if it was our last.

It’s also impossible to maximize our impact if we aren’t continuing to learn and grow as human beings. Learning is key.

Show up each day fully present. Engage with the world fully. Commit to personal growth and learn from your experiences.

Gandhi leading followers on the Salt March in the 1920s.

Gandhi leading followers on the Salt March in the 1920s.

(4) Health is wealth

“It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.”

I vividly recall Tony Robbins telling me at one of his seminars – “you need energy to fully live the game of life”.

If you are waking up tired and dependent on a “night-cap” to get to sleep…that isn’t living. It’s living a sedated life!

The only way to make a lasting impact on the world is to have the energy to engage fully every day. Taking care of your health – through proper diet, exercise and rest – is the way to do this.

If you haven’t already taken steps to adopt a more Alkaline Diet, now is the time.

(5) Lead by cooperating

“I suppose leadership at one time meant muscles; but today it means getting along with people.”

Gandhi excelled by resisting the establishment that was oppressing the weak, while also cooperating with those whom he disagreed with.

It was only through cooperation and dialogue – in the face of tremendous struggle, that Gandhi was able to convince his oppressors that all people should be free and treated fairly.

If you have a different point of view with someone, that is OK. Just remember, while it is ok to disagree with someone, you don’t need to be disagreeable towards them.

(6) Cultivate forgiveness

“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.“

“An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.”

“Power is of two kinds. One is obtained by the fear of punishment and the other by acts of love. Power based on love is a thousand times more effective and permanent then the one derived from fear of punishment.”

Forgiveness if not just something taught to us by Gandhi, The Dalai Lama consistently talks about the value of compassion, even towards those who have done you wrong.

Not forgiving others does nothing to the other person, but it does cause tension, pain and sadness within you.

So if someone has done you harm, don’t hold a grudge.

Be quick to forgive them and show compassion. This DOES NOT mean that you must agree with the other person. It just means that you recognize that they are only doing what they think is right.

Practice forgiveness, particularly towards those weaker than you.

Gandhi spinning cotton thread

Gandhi spinning cotton thread

(7) Non-violence is your greatest weapon

“Non-violence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind. It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by the ingenuity of man.”

“The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”

Humans being are hard-wired to defend themselves when confronted with a violent attack. In the absence of violence, the defenses drop, and dialogue can occur.

Gandhi was such a staunch believer in non-violence that he abstained from eating any animal products – he was essentially a vegan!

Violence is the easy way out. It is our hard-wired method we use to get our way or defend out point of few.

When you notice violence crop up in your thoughts, remember that the way to create lasting change in the world is through dialogue and cooperation. Not violence.

Be non-violent in your thoughts, and your actions will follow along.

(8) Enjoy the journey of your life

“Satisfaction lies in the effort, not in the attainment, full effort is full victory.”

“Action expresses priorities.”

The Bhagavad Gita, a renowned text underlying much of Hindu culture, speaks of the value in putting one’s focus solely on the actions and efforts surrounding a given task – and the result will take care of itself.

Even when results are not as you would expect, they inevitably have a hidden value.

Focus on what you can control: your own actions. Let go of any expectations towards a specific outcome.

(9) Nobody can hurt you without your permission

“You can chain me, you can torture me, you can even destroy this body, but you will never imprison my mind.”

Gandhi had such conviction around his beliefs, that severe physical pain, jail, death threats and countless bouts of resistance did not break his resolve.

You are in control of your mind. No one can take that away from you unless you let them.

As Tony Robbins says, “stand guard at the door of your mind.” As you listen to others, including those that disagree with you, remember that you can listen and cooperate with others without giving up on your core values and beliefs.

Nobody can hurt you without your permission.

(10) Develop a sense of humor

“If I had no sense of humor, I would long ago have committed suicide.”

Humor is an unsung superpower of the influential and elite.

During my 14 years at Microsoft, I used to be amazed at the humor many of our senior-most executives would display, even during times of incredible stress and tension.

It is even said that many of the US Presidents – particularly GWB – used humor to gain report and take the edge off of otherwise dicey debates and tension filled meetings.

The humor shown by the Dalai Lama is another case in point. While he has dedicated his life to teaching compassion and fighting for the way of life of his people (in Chinese occupied Tibet), he has still managed to maintain a sense of humor rivaling that of a stand up comic!

Dalai Lama laughing!

Dalai Lama laughing!

Take your ideas seriously, but remember that humor can be found in any situation, and used to help you keep your sanity, serve as an antidote to anger and help to bring people together to find a solution to a tough problem.

Gandhi changing the world...and laughing, in 1923 (AP Photo)

Gandhi laughing, in 1923 (AP Photo)

(11) Be great by helping others

“Man becomes great exactly in the degree in which he works for the welfare of his fellow-men.”

I was going to make this post a top 10 list….but I couldn’t resist adding in #11! Frankly, I could go on an on beyond 11 strategies for this point, but I will save additional insights for a future post.

We can only be great – to the extent that we commit to a life where we are working for the benefit of others.

I know for a fact that I will work many times harder for other people’s benefit, as I will for my own benefit.

How about you?

Whatever change you are trying to create in your own life, or the world at large, figure out how to maximize the amount of benefit for others…and you will undoubtedly see opportunities to do more and be more than you ever thought possible.

Those are Gandhi’s Top 11 Ways To Change The World. What I love about them is that each one of us can embody and act on them, in our own little way.

Call for comments:

Do you have other insights from Gandhi that can help us to change the world for the better?


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