Brighten the World (Bit by Bit)
tom walsh


I sometimes ask myself if on a given day or at a given moment I'm contributing to the positive energy of the world, or if I'm contributing to the negative energy.  Are my words or actions causing someone else to be angry and defensive and frustrated, or are my words and actions helping someone to feel more calm and at peace?  Of course, any time I make this judgment I'm just taking a guess, but I'm pretty sure that I can come close to the right answer if I follow some simple rules for my own behavior, rules that will help me to make things better for others, rather than adding to their challenges.  They're a pretty simple set of don't's and do's, and here they are:

Don't criticize and find fault; do encourage and find the positive.  This way, I won't be creating negative feelings in others, and I may be adding to their self-confidence.

Don't let fear determine my actions; do act from my heart doing what I know is right.  This way, I'll be living a more authentic life and facing risks that will make me stronger by dealing with them head-on.

Don't be quick to judge; do try to find out more about a particular person, story, or incident.  This way, my actions and attitudes will come from a place of knowing, not of reacting, and I'll be much more fair in dealing with everyone; my fairness can't help but help any situation in which it's called into play.

Don't focus on what may happen in the future; do focus on what's happening now and what I can do about it.  We have only the present moment, and I know from experience that my actions now based on possible future problems are often wastes of my time, for those problems tend not to materialize, as they're figments of my imagination, creations of my fear.

Don't hold on to anger and resentment; do work hard to let go of these things and focus more on the positive.  This way, my interior life will be more relaxed and more balanced, and I won't eat myself up from the inside out for things that are completely beyond my control.  I know plenty of people who refuse to let go of things, and they make themselves miserable while the people around them just shake their heads and say "What a shame."

Don't take the easy way out by doing things that I know aren't right.  I may need money, but stealing it is wrong.  I may have made a mistake, but hiding it will only make matters worse later.  Do try to do what's right and best at all times.  This way, I'm giving myself a chance to have more positive things in my future, rather than setting myself up for having to pay for my mistakes.

Don't try to build myself up by breaking or keeping other people down.  Do try to build up others at all times.  This way, I'm helping to develop strong, courageous people all around me.

Don't give up as soon as things look tough or bleak, and don't give in to discouragement.  Do persevere when I believe that it's important to see something through to its end.  When I do this, I'm not doing something that will make me feel weak or useless later, and I am doing something that will benefit me in the long run.

Don't try to do everything myself.  Do ask for and accept help when it makes sense to do so.  If I do this, I'll help myself by learning from those who help me, and I'll help others by letting them help me--I know it's helping them because of how good I feel when I'm able to help someone else.

I'm very sure that there are more ways that I can brighten my world by avoiding certain actions and following through on others.  What I find most important, though, is simply to be aware that there are certain things that I shouldn't be doing if I wanted to live a happy and fulfilling life; and I can make my day and my world a bit brighter by doing the "opposite" of those things.  And every little bit of light that we can bring into this world will be helpful to everyone in the long run.


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