Mahatma Gandhi said, “You must be the change you want to see in the world.”

I recently watched the critically acclaimed movie, Gandhi. Must say, it got me thinking. The movie was no doubt a hit. Not for the incredible story but also for the powerful message it conveys.

Mahatma Gandhi was a man with a soft voice. But with your soft voice combined with strong words and honest actions, you are unstoppable. And that’s ‘Gandhi’ for you.

People follow men who keep their word.

The world no longer needs the change it once longed for. Now, our fight is not against a nation or the government. We now fight a battle within ourselves. A struggle to understand ourselves and others. Still clueless about the various conventional social cues.

So, here’s a list of things we need to remind ourselves daily, to make our space, our world a better place.

‘Being kind’ is the new cool

“One must become as humble as the dust before he can discover truth.”

Mahatma Gandhi

Remember the gush of happiness you feel when someone describes you as  — Smart, Intelligent or Genius. That’s right. Hold on to that feeling.

Tall, dark and handsome is no longer the kind of men, women want. It’s been replaced with “I want someone smart”. But according to American Mensa, nearly 70% of the world population lies in the normal intelligence quotient (IQ) and nearly 1% lies in the genius or near the genius scale. So, chances are, if you are meeting someone, they most probably lie in the normal IQ level. And let’s face it, it’s one in a million chance that you might meet a genius.

Personally, I think it’s great to find yourself a genius. But it doesn’t matter how smart someone is if he doesn’t know how to treat others.

Smartness can only be appreciated if it is accompanied by kindness. And kindness can never go out of fashion.

That said, I am not of an opinion that we should not fight for what is right. ‘Knowing what is right’ is what makes us truly smart.

Don’t ever forget

“Knowledge gained through experience is far superior and many times more useful than bookish knowledge.”

Mahatma Gandhi

It is a human tendency to remember things that have hurt or made a very significant impact on your life. No matter how hard you try you cannot shake off experiences whether good or bad.

The following diagram will help you understand why experiences are very important in our lives.

Yes, it’s true. Direct experience has more impact than any other. It’s because that’s the only way people learn. And experiences are strong enough to change you.

When you are not treated right, you either end up learning and vow yourselves to never do it again orrr you end up doing the same to others. Either way, that’s the choice YOU MAKE.

Respect is earned

“ Man does not live by bread alone. Many prefer self-respect to food.”

Mahatma Gandhi

In order to earn respect, you need to learn to give it. You know that. But still, we find ourselves forgetting it from time to time. It is because it’s hard to realize where it applies.

So this happened to me – Whenever I came home after work, I noticed that our liftman (the one who operates the elevator) never called the elevator. Not until I reached the elevator door, even if he sees me coming from afar. He knows that if he calls the elevator immediately after he sees me, by the time I reach the elevator door, the elevator would be there waiting for me. I don’t know if he ever did that for anyone else but he definitely, didn’t do it for me.

So, one day I requested him to call the elevator before I reach it. He did it for the 1st day and then stopped.

Yes, it made me furious. I live in a 16 storey building, so let’s just say the elevator takes its own “sweet-time” to come down from Level 16 to Level 0.

So, one day, while getting out of the elevator, I looked at the liftman and greeted him – Good Morning with a smile. That day nothing changed. Not that I was expecting it.

But I was not going to give up, was I?

Did the same the next day and the day after. Finally, on the 3rd day, to my surprise, I saw him pressing the call button for the lift even before I reached the elevator door.

I was surprised. A small act of kindness and respect changed a behaviour. I thanked him and got on the elevator. And the elevator elevated the ‘happy me’ to my floor. He called the elevator for me every day since, just as I greeted him every day since.

Commitment and hard work are not the same

“Your action expresses your priorities.”

Mahatma Gandhi

I had the opportunity to train 6 people in my previous organization. An amazing experience, not only because I could mentor young minds but also, I learnt something new from them every day.

Within a month, all of them were quite ready to do their tasks on their own. All equally impressive. So, I let them do their thing and reviewed their tasks at the end of the day.

A few days passed and it came to my attention that there was some competition between two of the interns. Let’s call them Tim and Sarah.

So, just out of curiosity, I started looking into their working patterns. Both are equally smart, hardworking and dedicated. Tim would pick up on tasks and stay back in the office until he was done. No matter how late. Sarah would do the same but not as often as Tim.

One day, Tim came up to me and although respectfully, blamed me and the department for favouring Sarah. He pointed out he stayed back more than Sarah and always got the work done way before the deadline. To which I agreed, he did work hard.

Although I disagreed with his claim, I decided to monitor to see if there was any truth to it.

There definitely, was.

I called Tim the next day. I pointed out that while Tim did submit all his work before time and was always ahead of schedule, Sarah would take an extra day. But in the meantime, if Sarah thought anyone in the department needed any help she would analyze the importance of her task and the task that needed help. She would check the priority and would accordingly work on the one with the highest priority. All the while also completing her own tasks on time if not before.

That showed her commitment.

Commitment to the organization, to her job. And this is very much different from hard work.

What Tim interpreted as ‘favours’ was in fact gratitude that she received from her colleagues.

What’s your direction?

Nehru: Bapuji, the whole country is moving.

Gandhi: Yes. but in what direction?

It is indeed difficult to decide your next steps. But before you do so, it’s very important to know the direction you want to take. Moving forward may not always mean progress. It’s only progress if you are moving forward in the direction you want to go. Not just as a professional but as an individual too. And yes, for some people the direction may change from time to time. Which is fine, as long as you work hard towards accomplishing them.

“It’s better to be slow and careful in the right direction than to be fast and careless on the wrong path. Be sure that you are on the right path before you begin to take your steps!”

Israelmore Ayivor, Daily Drive 365

Words are powerful

Words cannot kill but it can make someone cry, break a heart, pass a judgement, gift freedom, start a war and begin a revolution. And do you still think it’s not powerful?

Said by Mahatma Gandhi —

Keep your thoughts positive,
Because your thoughts become your words.
Keep your words positive,
Because your words become your behaviour.
Keep your behaviour positive,
Because your behaviour becomes your habits.
Keep your habits positive,
Because your habits become your values.
Keep your values positive,
Because your values become your destiny.

‘Being funny’ is a talent

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

Mahatma Gandhi

Sense of humour is having the ability to joke about yourself.

We often make jokes and laugh at other people. A comedy is based on getting a laugh at somebody else’s expense. But it’s important to remember that it’s only a joke when the person we are talking about is also laughing along. Otherwise, it’s just rude.

The best kind of joke is the joke we make on yourself and your ability to laugh at it.

Love is just a feeling

“Love never claims, it ever gives.”

Mahatma Gandhi

I told this to a friend recently and she snapped back at me by saying, “You think so because you have never been in love”. Well, it’s true. What do I know about love?

Don’t get me wrong, love is a strong feeling and it definitely has the power to control our actions. Love is nothing if not felt. Not physically but mentally. Not in presence but even in the absence. What makes it different is, it’s not just one feeling. It’s a combination of many emotions.

“Love is a combination of admiration, respect and passion”

William Wharto

So, I may not know much about love but this is what I know. Love doesn’t mean fulfilling all expectations. Love is not blind. Love is letting go. Love includes jealousy but it also means not acting upon it. Need for someone may not always mean love. Love does not mean happily-ever-after. Love is unconditional. Love is a reason for understanding. Love may change with time but it always leaves behind respect. And Love sure as hell, isn’t limited to your relationship status.

Life goes on

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

Mahatma Gandhi

Last but not least, Life goes on. Life is full of experiences. We have a story to tell for every emotion. We laugh, we cry. We love, we hate. We raise, we fall. We live until we die.

“Life doesn’t require that we be the best, only that we try out best.

H. Jackson Brown Jr.

Originally Published at The Ascent