“I truly believe that individuals can make a difference in society. Since periods of change such as the present one come so rarely in human history, it is up to each of us to make the best use of our time to help create a happier world.” ~Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama

“Change” has become a political and philanthropic buzzword in modern society.

As children, our understanding of “change” was exemplified in the miraculous transformation of a caterpillar into a butterfly. However, as we have grown older, our understanding of what change is and how change works has certainly grown more complicated.

The Gyatso Method of Change

The merit of change is perpetually praised, the power and intrinsic “goodness” of change is always encouraged, but the vogue catchphrase has since wrought the concept of “change” with many misconceptions.

Thankfully, the fourteenth Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso — who I’ve held little reservation over the last few months describing as a figure of personal admiration — articulates the process of creating positive change with characteristic beauty and simplicity. I call it “The Gyatso Method of Change.”

What steps do we need to take to change ourselves? What are the necessary ingredients to creating, sustaining, and achieving positive inner change? Whether we are interested in bettering ourselves or changing the world at large, the Gyatso Method of Change requires three key ingredients: Determination, Effort, and Time.

Ingredient #1 – Determination

“Learning and education are important because they help one develop conviction of the need to change and help increase one’s commitment. This conviction to change then develops into determination…” ~The Dalai Lama

Every single change effort begins with determination and the attitude of conviction. It starts with a mindset. Your mindset will originate from:

  • Acquiring new knowledge or awareness on a subject (through personal research, educational studies and exploration);
  • Stumbling across new knowledge by chance or someone else’s public campaign (through a television commercial, a news story, etc.); or,
  • Feeling compelled to alter your life because of disaster, unhappiness, depression, or severe crisis.

No matter the causes, any effort to improve one’s life must begin with determination. If our goal is to create positive changes, we must strive to learn by expanding our personal horizons and exposure to things, resources and people that can educate us and raise our awareness of the need for what needs to be altered.

Ingredient #2 – Effort

“You must exert the effort to establish new habit patterns. This is the way that inner change and transformation take place in all things, no matter what you are trying to accomplish.” ~The Dalai Lama

Developing a determined and convicted mindset is one thing. But determination is only as good as the action and sustained effort that an attitude of conviction inspires. Creating positive inner change requires lots and lots of sustained effort.

And the exact methods of our efforts and actions, while they are sure to be varied, must always be open to alteration and innovation. One method of action will not alone create positive changes; it’s likely that many different sorts of actions and sustained efforts will be necessary.

Ingredient #3 – Time

“In order to accomplish important goals, we need an appreciation of the sense of urgency… that we must utilize every precious moment. But you still need to realize that genuine change doesn’t happen overnight. By making a steady effort, I think we can overcome any form of negative conditioning and make positive changes in our lives.” ~The Dalai Lama

The “time” element of creating positive inner change involves an interesting dichotomy. For positive inner change to begin requires a sense of urgency — a feeling that time is precious, our individual lives are quite short, and that we ought to begin as soon as possible to begin our efforts of creating changes in life.

However, for any initiative to be successful, we need to be incredibly patient; we must always remember that real change takes time and often comes about through incremental progress and slow growth.