How many people wake up in the morning to hail their families with a cheerful “Good morning”? This may seem like a little thing, but the person who is unaccustomed to greeting others will find it hard to get that simple salutation out of her mouth. “I’ll be laughed at,” such a person thinks, and she crawls right back into her hard shell of self-absorption. Even a simple hello will not come naturally without the right opportunity. The only way to get around this kind of mental block is to act instead of fretting over what to do. Give a greeting once. Then try to give greetings several times in succession. Then try for a week and then for a month. In time, you will sense a subtle change in the people around you. Given more time, you will suddenly awaken to the change that has taken place within you. Your heart and mind will be released from the rigid controls that kept you locked within yourself for so long.

Find one thing that makes you feel good and put it into practice. It is through this kind of action that we learn to live in harmony. We can also change others in this way. I know that some people question whether the actions of a single individual can really affect others. But do not waste time worrying about that; just do what feels right to you.

From Buddhism for Everyday Life: Memorable Dharma Messages from a Long Spiritual Journey by Nikkyo Niwano © 2011. Reprinted with permission of Kosei Publishing Company.

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