Celebrating Peace - Through Compassionate Action
By Shajen Joy Aziz
Peace is a really big word these days. Inner peace, world peace, global peace… So what is peace exactly? How do we obtain our own peace? Peace means many different things. As Ghandi teaches us, “We must be the change” and the Dalai Lama continually models for us that both peace and compassion originate with gratitude for life itself.
When I was twelve, I acutely learned to question life. That spring I lost my mother in a car accident, my house to fire, and the rest of my family to despair. My world was shattered. Oddly enough, the most popular song on the radio that summer was “Celebrate” by Kool and the Gang. Celebrate… good times rolled around in my heart and my mind at each opportunity. I literally couldn’t get away from it. Everywhere I turned the music blared those gut-wrenching words; “Celebrate good times, come on!” betraying what was left of my internal foundation, the lyrics seemed to blast from every direction. With each Top 40 repeat, the song tore my fractured being into millions more pieces.
What did I have to celebrate? I had to ask to ask myself this question a lot that summer. I absolutely hungered to understand why? A few months later I ran into an old friend of my mother’s. She inquired with, “Your life must be so hard now without your mother; how are you coping?” Before I even knew what was coming out of my mouth, I responded with, “I have a lot to celebrate about her, she was a great mom. I feel lucky to have had a mom like her, even if only for twelve years. I am grateful and I celebrate her.”
Where was this voice of higher understanding and wisdom coming from? How was I able to access compassion and understanding at such a young age, while in complete grief and anguish?
It took the creation of Discover the Gift to truly understand that my parents and all the amazing and present adults who entered my life as a child are the Gift. You are a precious gift as well, to every person and child in your life. Yes, you are a never to be repeated again miracle. In my experience, inner peace begins to reveal itself when we consistently exercise our internal compassion muscles of presence, forgiveness and gratitude. It was the existence of the caring adults in my life which generated deep resiliency within my being, propelling me into my life’s work.
What I learned early on in my volunteer career is that the more I shared my gifts and talents with others, the more I received. So selfishly, you see, I continue to give more, creating a positive flow of infinite feedback.
If you are struggling with your inner peace and want immediate relief, volunteer. Find fun and positive ways to use your passions to contribute to your family, friends and community. Actively sharing yourself with others is empowering. It enhances self-esteem for everyone involved, creates inner peace, alleviates anger, and activates compassion and connectedness; stimulating your gifts and talents in whole and new ways.
As Sir Ken Robinson teaches us, “You can’t be a stand for world peace if you are angry.” Anger and anguish are extinguished through forgiveness and gratitude. The children of the world deserve adults to take a stand for peace and it happens within us first. Share a smile, a kind word, a gesture of understanding. These actions create momentum within our families and villages and it continues its energy ripple through the very fabric of our world.
Everything you need is already inside you. Thinking peace, without actually feeling it, negates peace. Any small shift to gratitude and compassion will create that energy ripple into your very existence.
We must focus on and activate what is special and unique about ourselves so we can see the same in others. When we shine, we nourish and inspire others to do the same. Individually, we are trees, and together, the forest. This is why my brother, Demian Lichtenstein and I created Discover the Gift, now distributed by Gaiam TV, and why we serve and support people, causes, and communities we believe in, like: The Shift Network, Peacelinklive.org, Peace4kids.org, and the upcoming 10X Summit.
As Margaret Meade said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
It just takes one person’s awakening to shift another person, to uplift a family, to bring resources to a community, and to generate peace. Truthfully, I can only speak for myself, and echoing the words of the Masters. Give, be in gratitude, grace. While life was at its worst; I gave. Giving really did generate inner peace. In my peace and gratitude I was at ease and in the flow.
Give. Volunteer. Share. Meditate. Celebrate your family and friends. Tell them, show them; just love them with words and actions.
These acts of kindness are a gift to the world and will generate peace in multiple dimensions.
Warmly and brightly,
Shajen Joy Aziz is a Master Educator and is most passionate about creating a world where our children can thrive. She is an international speaker, teacher, humanitarian and First author and Co-Creator of the international bestselling book and film Discover the Gift. Her project is released in 22 countries and 10 languages worldwide. She is also the author of the upcoming book: “Sparkle -You Have to be Lost, Before You Can be Found.” Shajen’s foundation as an educator, school counselor and behavioral specialist for over 20 years paved the way for her to become a leader within the transformational community.
Shajen is a founding member of the Southern California Association of Transformational Leaders and the Women’s Speakers Association, as well as an active trailblazer for the Peacelink Coalition. A few of her recognitions include the 2014 Woman of Outstanding Leadership Award from the International Women’s Leadership Assoc., the 2012 Peace and Creativity Award presented by Congresswoman Karen Bass, the 2011 & 2012 Woman of the Year Award from the National Association of Professional Women for her dedication and excellence in her field of education, and the 2011 Global Humanitarian Award, presented by Dr. Barbara De Angelis and Rev. Michael Bernard Beckwith. To learn more, go to: www.discoverthegift.com
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This article appears in: 2014 Catalyst, Issue 17: Summer of Peace - Compassion, Ebola and 11 Days of Global Unity