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The Wisdom of Gandhi

Recently I watched the film ‘Gandhi’, a biographical film of the life of Mahatma Gandhi. Using non-violent resistance Ghandi led the people of India to independence from British Colonial rule.

This is a beautiful film, which gives an insight into how a quiet lawyer ended up being such an inspirational and courageous leader to a whole nation. What really struck me about Gandhi was the simplicity and purity of the principles that he spoke of and lived his life by. These principles are as applicable and needed in today’s world as they were in India during Gandhi’s lifetime. They include:

  • Truth
  • Nonviolence
  • Simplicity
  • Faith

He saw prejudice and discrimination happening around him, firstly in South Africa and then in India when he returned there. He never pretended these things were not happening or buried his head in the sand. He was brave and honest as well as gentle and peaceful. He saw injustice and knew that it was wrong but he also knew that nothing is achieved by retaliating and inflicting the same on another. He knew truth wins in the end, but also that it was necessary to resist the temptation to resort to the same methods as those hurting him. He also had an amazing insight into human psychology. He knew by judging others actions was to deny the fact that we are all capable of doing bad things. Through non-violent non co-operation he shone a light upon the atrocities inflicted upon him and his people and he also described this as a way to teach his aggressors that there is a better way. He wasn’t passive or weak and never advocated that others were. He advocated that evil is always resisted, in a non-violent way. He had amazing faith that truth would win in the end, and it did.

If you haven’t seen this film, I really recommend that you do. It really made me think of the difference applying these principles would make to my own life and the world in general. Gandhi showed that through gentleness, simplicity and truth how we live and our impact on others can be transformed beyond what we might think is possible. I will leave you with some inspiration from the man himself:

“Gentleness, self-sacrifice and generosity are the exclusive possession of no one race or religion.”

“An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.”

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

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

“Honest disagreement is often a good sign of progress.”

“Always aim at complete harmony of thought and word and deed. Always aim at purifying your thoughts and everything will be well.”

Who will you BE in 2010?

“Often people attempt to live their lives backwards: they try to have more things, or more money, in order to do more of what they want so they will be happier. The way it actually works is the reverse. You must first be who you really are, then do what you love to do, in order to have what you want.” Margaret Young

Who are you going to BE this year?

As the quote points out, we often get things topsy turvy. We often follow the path: have – do – be. We work out what we think we need to HAVE (more time, money, skills) and need to DO, to BE who we want to be. For example, I sometimes think that if I have more time and work harder, my coaching business and website will be more successful and I will BE happy.

However we all know that this approach doesn’t really work. Although we convince ourselves that more DOING will lead us to who we want to BE, how many times have we been proven wrong? How many times have we thought, when my business is doing really well, when I have 100 new subscribers, live in a new place or meet a fantastic partner… I will be happy? And how many times have a new set of problems stopped us in our tracks and stopped us from BEING who we really want to be, despite the fact that we HAVE those things?

The way the process actually works is:


It’s all about who we are BEING.

A shortcut

A quick way to decide who you want to be, is to look at what you want to have and think about who you would need to BE, to have that. For example, if you want to be promoted, who do you need to BE to get that promotion? Enthusiastic? Motivated? Inspiring? Another way to look at it is, who would you BE, once you got that promotion? Imagine how you want to behave, walk, talk and BE in that role and BE that way NOW.

100% Responsibility

A powerful point about living our lives form a place of beingness rather than doingness, is that it leaves you 100% in the driving seat of your experience. You don’t have to wait for other people to change, or to get the job of your dreams, to be who you want to be today.


It can take some practice, to learn how to be the way you want to be, on a consistent basis, but consider that you are always BEING a certain way, whether you are conscious of it or not. Rather than choosing your default ways of being (Unhappy? Happy? Sarcastic? Bubbly? Depressed?) you have a choice.

You can be ANY way you want to be

One of the things I know about myself is that I am often ‘nice’ on default. Now there is nothing wrong with that per se, and I’m not advocating not being nice, but sometimes I feel like I have no other choice but to be ‘nice’, which doesn’t always serve myself or others. Sometimes what’s called for, is to be assertive,  authentic, or just another way of being. I am learning to be the way I want to be in this area. The choices are infinite. Find ways of being that are authentically inspiring for you.

There is nowhere to get to

This is a dichotomy, as in our physical, linear world, there is tomorrow and we have goals we are working towards. However scientists have proven that time is all illusion. Being who we want to be NOW is all there is to do, in each moment of now.

It’s already so

The powerful thing about beingness, is that it is possible to be anything we wish, right now in this moment. Language is so powerful. If you say “I will be happy when XXXX” that is what you will get … your happiness out there in  the future, someday, dependant on something happening to be happy. A powerful affirmation is always in the present moment e.g.: “I am happy and content.”

Then, whatever comes our way shouldn’t matter, we are already the way we want to be. Conversely, the was the universe works is that we attract what we want when we are in alignment with who we really are.

Remind yourself

I find it useful to have reminders for myself about who I want to be (in a notebook that I carry around with me, on my noticeboard at home). In the day to day, it can be easy to forget or get caught up in external events.


As I mentioned, beingness is fluid and limitless and we do have a choice in each moment, of who we want to be. It is also powerful to have a focus for the year, which is my reason for writing this post. This year, the way of being that really appeals to me is gratitude.

Who are you committed to being this year?

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The Power of “No”

What do you think when you hear the word “No”?

For me there are some negative associations. If I’m honest, “Yes” seems like the cooler of the pair. “Yes” to me, means progress, possibilities and agreement. “No” can mean barriers, difficulty and dead-ends. These are not my fully considered reactions, but just the first things that come to mind when I think of these two words. What are your reactions?

Write down (or think about) three words you associate with “Yes” and “No”. Try and be honest and write down the first words that come into your head.

Making friends with “No”
I’ve had an interesting relationship with “no”. I have found “No” difficult to use at times. Not always. Some situations, I find easier than others. As I mentioned in last week’s post, I am a recovering “people pleaser”. There was a time in my life, where I would find it really difficult to say “No” when someone would ask me to do something, even if it didn’t fit in with my life. The consequence of this, that was that I ended up being overloaded, busy all the time and not in control of my life. Ultimately I didn’t end up helping anyone as I was spreading myself so thinly.

Why is “No” the hardest word?
Why is “No” so difficult for some of us to say? I know for me, the honest reaction is that I worried that people wouldn’t like me if I didn’t help them. On a level, I made saying “No”, mean that I was mean, unhelpful, selfish. Around the time I mentioned above, I realized this really isn’t a helpful way to be. Ultimately it wasn’t authentic, it was all about gaining approval, and heck, why was I even doing that? What was so wrong with me, that I had to gain peoples approval this way? After some soul searching, I realised: actually nothing! I’m pretty cool ;) I just needed to start realising that myself and stop looking to others for approval!

The Power of “No”
Guess what? People still like you when you say “No”. Actually, what I have found is that if you are straight forward and honest, saying “No” to a request is really not an issue. I think most sane people, realise that when they ask something of someone, there are basically two possible answers and one of them might be “No”. Sure, sometimes, if people say “No” to you, it can be disappointing but ultimately I know I respect people who have clear boundaries and are able to say “No” as well as “Yes”. Others respect your boundaries, when you respect your boundaries. Sometimes when people say “Yes” to everything that is asked of them, it can leave you wondering if they really want to do what you are asking of them, or if they just feel obligated or unable to say “No” which is never a good place to be!

Helpful tools
I still find it difficult sometimes, but I find that using “No” is like doing exercise. It used to be very hard, and sometimes I would have the thought to say “No” and it just seemed too difficult to do! Gradually, I am building my “No” muscle and learning to trust myself, and if my gut says “No”, to learn to listen to that message. If you sometimes find this difficult and end up saying “Yes” to something when you mean “No”, it’s not the end of the world. Go back and find that person and explain you made a mistake and that you actually can’t help on this occasion. I know for me, sometimes I find it difficult to say “No” on the spot, but another thing I have found useful, is if you hear a request coming your way, give yourself some time to consider it. Let the person know you are considering it, but need to check your schedule, and that you will get back to them. This gives you the time to see if what is being asked of you, works for you too.

You are the architect of your experience
Life is too short to be doing things because we think we “should” be doing them. I am really not talking about being selfish, or not helping other people. That is not what this is about at all. But this is YOUR life, and if you want your life to be the way you want it, you need some boundaries and the ability to decline experiences, as well as accept them. The more we get in touch with who we really are and our mission here on this planet, the clearer what we do and don’t want to do, becomes. Ultimately there are only so many hours in the day and the ability to say “No” helps us to be the architect of our experience and leaves room to say “Yes” to more of the things we want to do and experience.

What are your experiences with “No?”

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33 Ways To Simplify Your Life

1. Spend less money
2. Create a food shopping list each week
3. Cut your gym membership and exercise outside
4. Be picky about what you read
5. Eat more vegetarian food
6. Say “No” more
7. Stop worrying about what other people think
8. Write more
9. Declutter regularly
10. Pass on what you don’t need or use
11. Meditate
12. Spend time alone
13. Do work you love or start working out what that might be
14. Check your email once a day
15. Associate with positive people
16. Take a digital sabattical
17. Stop doing unnecessary tasks
18. Be grateful
19. Take action
20. Be honest with yourself and others
21. Make the most of every day
22. Eliminate the unnecessary
23. Be patient
24. Stop listening to others opinions and listen to your own
25. Spend more time in nature
26. Spend more time “being” and less time doing
27. Cultivate a meaningful and intimate relationship with your inner self
28. Be willing to be true to yourself even if that means upsetting the status quo
29. Walk more
30. Embrace your inner hermit
31. Hang out with positive people
32. Ditch people that try and pull you down
33. Breathe