12/19/2012 12:26 pm ET Updated Feb 18, 2013

You Are Not Helpless: How to Bring Light to the World

We were all touched in some way by the Sandy Hook school shootings and the loss of lives. We have either actually been part of the experience of Hurricane Sandy or sat and watched its destruction. The Aurora shootings, the terror and wars in the Middle East -- it seems like our world is just getting darker and darker, being taken over by more evil. Many people just give into it, feeding the darkness by giving it more power through getting angry with each other about it, through declaring that we must fight it (I read somewhere today that Tennessee is considering training and arming school teachers -- makes me so sick to my stomach). Fighting darkness with darkness and creating separation among ourselves can't really be the answer, can it?

Many people feel hopeless, asking really, what can I do? What can one single person like me do to make a difference? I have felt the same way. I'm sure like many, the murder of all those little children affected me profoundly. Walking around with a deep sense of grief, of sadness, that Santa won't get to deliver the presents he picked out for those little ones... This tragedy has shaken me and left me feeling helpless. Usually I can try to find some spiritual solace, some proactive way to help or make a difference. But this just made me feel like it's hopeless... darkness has won out and there's nothing for us to do now.

But that's not true. Darkness has not won... the only way to get rid of darkness is to turn on the light. Imagine a dark auditorium filled with people. Pitch black. But if every single person in there lit a candle or shined a flashlight, there would be no more darkness; the room would be filled with light. We each need to shine our own light. That's how we make a difference.

We each have our own way of shining our light in the world... doctors shine their light by healing people, janitors shine their light by allowing us clean spaces in which to shine our light, teachers empower students to learn how to shine their own light, and so on. Or, it doesn't even have to do with our job. It can just do with us, who we are at our core. Do you have a beautiful singing voice that brings chills to people's arms and tears to their eyes? Do you have incredible patience, or are you a great listener? Do you bake delicious chocolate chip cookies that make people think of the safety and warmth of a mother's love? Are you, yourself, sick and going through your own healing process? You shine your light by going through that process of healing yourself... and in healing yourself, you can begin to heal the world. Are you, or have you, recovered from an addiction? That shines enormous amounts of light.

We don't have to be all guru-super-"woo woo"-spiritual to shine our light. We don't have to read religious texts or meditate or go to church or temple or on a spiritual retreat. We just light up the world by doing what we were born to do -- whether it's a job, a passion, or a hobby. We light up the world by treating the person next to us with kindness, compassion, and human dignity. We light up the world by being the best, most loving mother, daughter, son, father, sister, brother, friend, spouse we can be.

How do you think you shine your light? My boyfriend, for example, shines his light by creating art pieces for people by their idols... he gives people an actual piece of a musician who has changed their life. He brings light into their lives that way. I hope that I bring light into people's lives by inspiring and empowering students, clients, readers to find and see their own true, beautiful light. You may really hate your job, I get it; so how, do you ask, can you shine your light there? You can. There are ways... it's the little things. I have a friend, for example, who doesn't like her job but was born with an amazing sense of style and injects that light of hers into projects she turns out at work by making them uniquely beautiful, and that beauty touches people. I have another friend who is an actress, just waiting for her big-break opportunity to shine the light she knows she was born to shine, but has a "day job" in the meantime that she doesn't like; so she shines her light there by being a terrific friend to coworkers and by taking pride in the work she does do at that job.

How do you light up the world? How do you bring light to another person's life? Each of us has the power to make the world a little bit brighter. Each of us can choose to shine our own light, transforming the darkness one flicker at a time.

For more by Holly Sidell, click here.

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