Everyday Practices for Young People
Who Want to Help Save the World
© 2006 Amy Wachspress (visit www.wozabooks.com)
1. Pursue your passion.
Discover your personal gifts and pursue them with passion. This is the most important thing a young person can do each day to make the world a better place. It is number one. What do you love? What are your personal talents? It sometimes takes a while to figure this out. Some people never figure it out. But it helps to start thinking about it when you are young. Cultivate your gifts so you can use them to the best of your ability. If you love music, play music. If you love baseball, practice batting. If you love cooking, then cook. Practice makes perfect. When you do what you love, then you send your love out into the world. Remember that your spirit makes a difference. You matter. You are valuable. Everyone is.
Grow yourself. Find good teachers. If life sends you poor teachers then find good ones. If life sends you good teachers then take advantage of every opportunity to learn from them. Learn what you need to know.
you could spend the next few years on number one if you like. Some people spend their whole lives on number one and never get it right.
2.Take care of yourself.
Exercise, eat well, get enough sleep, and stay healthy. Stay healthy in spirit, mind, AND body. Exercise for at least a half an hour every day. Exercise includes team sports, swimming, running, bicycling, rollerblading, dancing (get together with friends and simply dance), skateboarding, and walking. Your body is sacred. Put good food into it. Learn more about nutrition and health. Eat fruits and vegetables more and fast food less. Don’t stay up too late at night. Go to bed. Be well-rested. Have more fun tomorrow.
Slow down. Make time every day to do something creative that inspires you. Day dream. Prepare and share a delicious meal with those you love. Join the slow food revolution. Stop running in too many directions.
Laugh. Tell a joke every day. Have fun. Laughter sends ripples of positive energy out into the world.
Get professional help if you need it. If you often feel depressed, particularly if you feel an overwhelming sense of hopelessness, it’s very important for you to talk to a trusted adult about your feelings. Ask that trusted adult to help you find a good therapist or counselor. You can feel better with professional help. If you are in pain, constantly tired, or don’t feel well, go to the doctor. If you are addicted to drugs or alcohol, take a step toward recovering your life. Find professional help. You are not alone. Change happens.
3. Practice and teach peace and nonviolence.
Use your imagination and develop your creativity. The opposite of violence is imagination. Violence occurs when people are unable to imagine another way to resolve a situation or conflict. Imagination is powerful. Imagination can cause change. Imagination is a muscle and it needs exercise. Spend at least a half an hour every day in creative activity; for example, cook or bake, rebuild a car engine, make music, do art (draw, paint, sculpt, make something), dance, sew, design a website, write, work on a new skateboard trick, take photographs. Remove “I’m bored” from your vocabulary. Imaginative people should never be bored.
Actively practice and teach peace and nonviolence. Practice peace by learning more about conflict resolution. If you have trouble controlling your temper, take a class in anger management. Study nonviolence. It is a science and you can learn how it has been used in the past. Tell others what you have learned. Talk with people about peace and nonviolence. If you are inclined, take action to promote peace: demonstrate, speak, and write about peace.
4. Feed your spirit.
Participate in a faith community. If you belong to a faith community then make time every week to participate in community events and activities, such as meditation, study, prayer, community service, and celebrations. If you don’t belong to a faith community, consider joining one or starting a spiritual group with like-minded friends. Don’t fake it. Don’t force yourself to participate in a spiritual practice if it doesn’t work for you. Do something that feeds your spirit and seek out other people who find spiritual meaning in the same places and the same ways that you do. Then do things together; for example, meditating, praying, studying, helping others, drumming, or singing.
Stay inspired. What inspires and energizes you? Make room in your life to do those things. Make time to do the things you love. Make time to spend with the people you love. Make time to pursue your passion.
5. Listen and learn from others.
Give others your focused attention. Listen to other people with your full attention and an open heart. Stay focused. Be patient. Really hear what the other person is saying. Ask questions to understand them better. This is especially important when talking with people who hold beliefs that are different from yours. Hearing and learning from someone who disagrees with you does not mean you have to change your own beliefs.
View difference as an opportunity to learn. When speaking with someone who is very different from you, take the opportunity to expand your understanding of the world. Every person is stuck within his or her own way of seeing things. If you really listen to people who are different from you, then it will expand your perception.
6. Think for yourself and take control of incoming information.
Question the facts. Where does your news and information come from? Be aware that the owners of TV, radio, and newspaper outlets often have their own interests. This affects how the news is delivered to you. Get your news from reliable sources. Many “facts” you find on the Internet are actually someone’s opinion. Always question the source of information. Do some research about news and information sources. Think for yourself!
Limit your exposure to negative news and violent images. You can only hear so much negative news before it starts to make you depressed. Don’t you wish you heard more good news? Look for good news and share it with others. We are bombarded with violent and negative images constantly in the media. Although it is important to educate yourself about what is happening in the world, it is equally important for you to remove yourself from the vision of violence presented in the media. Limit your exposure to violent and negative images from TV, movies, and electronic games. These images can make you feel hopeless about the future. When we are hopeful we are more inclined to do things to heal the world because we believe we can make a difference.
Resist advertising. Don’t let corporations, business interests, and politicians tell you what to think, what to buy, and what you like. Don’t be manipulated. Don’t be fooled. Who is the boss of you? Alright then, think for yourself.
OK, here it is, you were expecting it: Turn off your TV. Read a book. Make music. Talk to your parents. Paint. Dance with friends. If you live in a place where it is safe outside, then go outside; otherwise go to a youth center. Don’t be brainwashed by virtual experience. Have a real experience instead. Get a life!
7. Promote positive energy.
Be nice. You know how bad it feels when someone is mean to you. So don’t do it to others. Life is hard. We need to be kind to one another. Be helpful, polite, and thoughtful. Do something nice for someone every single day. Pay a stranger a compliment. Write thank-you notes. Small acts of kindness make a big difference.
Respect others. Treat other people the way you want them to treat you. It’s the Golden Rule. Simple as that.
Interrupt disrespect. If you witness an act of disrespect, speak up. Interrupt acts of humiliation and discrimination. Interrupt bullying. Interrupt racism. But remember to interrupt respectfully. Very often people do not realize that they are hurting another person with thoughtless words. Unlearning racism takes time.
Practice forgiveness. When you hold a grudge, you are the one who suffers most. Your anger surrounds you with negative energy and harms your spirit as well as your body. Accept apologies graciously and find it in your heart to forgive those who don’t apologize. Use your anger or frustration to motivate you to do something positive. Transform negative energy into positive energy. Be compassionate. You don’t know what someone else has been through. (And remember to apologize when you mess up.)
Be grateful. Count your blessings. Spend a few minutes before you go to sleep each night thinking of things, big or small, for which you are grateful. For example: 1. I’m grateful Dad let me borrow the car. 2. I’m grateful I have a dad. 3. I’m grateful we have a car. 4. I’m grateful that all four doors on our car are the same color.
Put more positive energy into the world’s energy field. This is simple. A no-brainer. Make more good energy in the world in every way you can. All energy goes somewhere. It doesn’t just disappear. You may never see the difference it makes, but it will make a difference. It’s a matter of building the goodness around us. We want to live in a soup of good energy. Put wonderful, beautiful ingredients into that soup.