You Were Born To Be Incredibly Influential

My favorite Buddha is Avalokiteśvara, the Buddha of compassion. You might have noticed Avalokiteśvara before, but didn’t realize that it was him. Avalokiteśvara is often portrayed in statues or illustrations as sitting in a meditation posture with dozens of arms sprouting out from his body. This multitude of arms represents Avalokiteśvara’s great compassion.

Thich Nhat Hanh says that Avalokiteśvara has 1,000 eyes so that he can see all those who suffer across the world and 1,000 arms so that he can reach out to them and alleviate their suffering. 

Years back, when I made a trip to Japan, I visited a house that once belonged to Samurai warriors. Inside this house, tucked inside a grand hallway, there was a popular exhibit featuring dozens of statutes portraying Avalokiteśvara. The statues were golden and were laid out against the wall, lined up in rows that reached the ceiling.

The exhibit was a magnificent site to see. I remember standing there, next to my friend, in complete awe of the hundreds of eyes I saw searching for the suffering of the world, and the hundreds of arms that reached out to alleviate that suffering.

The people around me were mostly silent, as the place felt incredibly sacred. Visitors were explicitly asked not to take pictures or video, so we simply stood there witnessing the magnificence, beauty, and holiness of Avalokiteśvara as he washed over us.

It was an experience I never forgot.

The Problem With Empathy

When I first learned of Avalokiteśvara, I was reading a book written by Thich Nhat Hanh. I remember closing the book afterwards and feeling a profound connection with Avalokiteśvara. I remember wishing I could be more like him.

I wanted to be able to see all the suffering of the world and be able to reach out and help alleviate that suffering.

Because ever since I remember, I felt this deep empathy for others but never felt I could do anything to satisfy it.

I often found that my empathy came with a price. When I saw the pain of others, I felt that pain, and so my own pain grew.

It seemed that the more I cared, the more I suffered.

That is, until, I learned the wisdom of Avalokiteśvara.

Be Careful What You Wish For

It is more than 5 years since I first learned of Avalokiteśvara. 5 years since I first wished that I could be more like him. 5 years since I wished for 1,000 eyes to see the world’s suffering and 1,000 arms to help alleviate that suffering.

5 years, and today, through my blog, I literally reach around 1,000 + readers a week. Many of these readers have contacted me directly, telling me about what a profound influence I had on them.

Until recently, I viewed my influence as relatively small. I thought my influence was as big as me motivating someone to write. But as my readers shared their personal stories with me, I was starting to realize that my influence was a whole lot bigger than me just motivating people to have a great writing day.

Some of my readers were facing incredibly difficult life challenges, and my blog was helping them get through it.

As I summoned the courage to write, and live a great life, my readers felt inspired to do the same. As I worked to heal through my old wounds in order to grow and find peace, my readers felt inspired to do the same. As I worked to love myself just as I was and honor my passion, my readers felt inspired to do the same.

It wasn’t a fluke. I was actually seeing those who suffered all around the world and I was literally reaching out to them to help alleviate their suffering.

My wish to become more like Avalokiteśvara had finally come true. Before I even knew it, I had 1,000 eyes to see the suffering of the world and 1,000 arms to reach out and help alleviate that suffering.

We Are All More Influential Than We Realize

So far, the greatest lesson my success at blogging has given me is that we’re all more influential than we give ourselves credit for.

All of us.

You might be thinking that just because I reach hundreds of people each day that I somehow have more influence than you do. But you’d be wrong.

Each of us has the same amount of influence on the world. No more. No less.

The things we say, the things we do, and even the things we think have a direct influence on the people around us. The worst thing you can ever do is to think that you are not influential.

When you choose to inspire, that inspiration spreads like wildfire across the globe, even if you don’t see it. Conversely, if you choose to put someone down, then that put down will spread throughout the world just as fast.

There is no other time when this is more true than today.

As a writer, you have to know that every word you write will have a great influence on all of us. So please write with care and write with love. And when you are finished writing, go out and choose to have a positive influence on those around you.

Because what blogging has taught me is that I’m not the only one with a big heart. Each human being was born with a big heart. It is in our very nature as human beings to want to help those who suffer, to reach out to them and lend a helping hand.

We were all born to become Avalokiteśvara’s.

But we must learn that the 1,000 eyes that see the suffering of the world must always be paired with 1,000 hands to reach out to help alleviate that suffering. What that means is that for every amount of suffering we acknowledge in the world, we must pair it with an equal amount of action to help alleviate that suffering.

Now, that doesn’t mean you have to give up your passion today and become an activist.

I used to think that I had to become an activist or a politician to help alleviate the world’s suffering. Today, I realize that it doesn’t matter what role you take on–what matters is how you use that role to help others.

You can have just as much influence on the world following your passion as you can if you became an activist or a politician.

Now, you may lack the motivation, or the knowledge, or the skills, or the money, or the support you need to help others, but I hope that, from now on, you at least know that you’ll never lack the influence.

much love,

Ollin

Write something today with the purpose of helping someone else alleviate their suffering. Then, share this piece on your blog or with someone you know.

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26 comments on “You Were Born To Be Incredibly Influential

  1. “Each of us has the same amount of influence on the world. No more. No less.” Some very interesting thoughts here Ollin! I’ve always known that each of us has more influence than we think, but I never thought of it this way. I have witnessesed though, people following their passion… and it’samazing, inspiring, it affects me directly. I really believe that if you follow what you’re passionate about you will change things in the world.

    • Ollin says:

      I know, it’s a big statement to make. But I believe it. Because I have seen how others influence me and so I know how much we all influence each other. It just can’t be any other way. I think.

  2. Powerful post, Ollie. You have taught me a lot today.

  3. Marcia says:

    Inspiring post, Ollin. I think, since we do influence people we meet, we have a responsibility to make it a positive influence. You illustrate that here. Thanks for letting us share your thoughts!

  4. Christina says:

    Great post Ollin! I love the way you expose us to different cultures through your blog and bring to light facts we might not be aware of.

    I love what you wrote “please write with care and write with love. And when you are finished writing, go out and choose to have a positive influence on those around you.”

    That’s so true. And when it comes to alleviating suffering, I’ve come to see that a smile to someone you don’t know or a kind, polite word to someone you come across during the day can make a huge difference to them. Even something as simple as ‘thank you’ to the girl at the cash in the supermarket or the person who gives you your coffee – it never ceases to shock me how utterly inconsiderate and rude people can be.

    Because you never know how people suffer, even if they don’t show it.

    • Ollin says:

      What a great suggestion Christina! That’s an excellent point. We all should be careful how we treat each other, and a smile can go a long way!

  5. Tammy says:

    I’m sure you knew that I’d love this message! It’s so powerful and we are reaching others. And you gave me a great idea of something to write about. One short-story coming up but maybe not for my blog.

    • Ollin says:

      Great, I’m glad you liked it Tammy! Yes, as you know your blog has had a great influence on me. In fact a lot of my reader’s blogs have! Thank you for that positive influence on mine and other people’s lives!

  6. Wow!
    That Ollin was truly amazing!
    And it is so much what I’ve been telling myself while still unable to force myself to sit down and write. (Though things are looking up).
    Everything you write here is so moving, so very true. We all have influence, but it is the belief that we don’t that stops us from attempting to discover and use it.
    Thank you for this wonderful inspiration!
    Thank you!

  7. 83October says:

    What a wonderful post this is Ollin! First, congratulations in having that wish come true for you.
    Seeing ourselves as influential also means seeing ourselves to hold not just empathy, but responsibility. Our actions do not happen in isolation and whether its for the good or for the bad we can influence people. You make a good point of knowing what to do with that role. I used to despise talking about what i’ve gone through in my life. It was too dark or too touchy to talk about, but I came to realize as I slowly opened myself up that it could help people. In fact, it has helped people to know that there was a tangible manifestation of that light at the end of the tunnel.

    In the end, i think that’s what makes me continue on with my blog and with everything else i do…knowing that in the end it doesn’t matter if it helps a thousand or just one person, so long as it does. Love the message Ollin!

    • Ollin says:

      Thanks 83. Yes, with influence comes great responsibility. But this doesn’t have to stress us out or pressure us, we just need to be reminded that we all are very important in this world. That is enough.

  8. Ahlam says:

    This post is incredible. I’ve always thought, and try to live by, the knowledge that we may not be able to change the entire world (for now) but we can change our own lives and the lives of those we come in contact on a daily basis. It doesn’t take much to be influential in someone else’s life, something as little as a smile can turn someon’s day around. I loved your last line about writing something to help eleviate someone’s suffering and post it on your blog…will do!

    • Ollin says:

      You are very right Ahlam, I remember when I was coming out and feeling I wanted to rally people for gay rights. But I realized my power was limited in that respect. I was not an organizer or an activist. At the time I wish I was and I wished I had a passion for it, but I learned recently that I could effect the gay rights struggle simply by coming out to the people I know and being a great role model. That was enough to affect change. All I had to do was influence my small circle and that was enough. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  9. Wonderful post Ollin,

    The idea that each of us has the same power and influence is amazing and encouraging for us all. I love the transformation you went through in realizing the scope of your influence and the impact it has. I went through a similar realization. I have a similar empathy and used to feel deeply pained by the worlds ills, and deeply helpless to do anything about them.

    It wasn’t until I realized that by taking care of myself, healing myself and being myself, that the power of my influence was making the world a better place. I realized that by changing what I could change, I was able to spread ripples of change throughout the world.

    Thanks for sharing this Ollin.

    • Ollin says:

      Excellent point! I truly believe exactly what you have said. People don’t need to do as much as they think they do, sometimes ones own healing is really more than enough. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  10. I’m so happy you realize what an inspiration you are to so many people, Ollin. You write so eloquently and about how to reach profound issues through the art of writing that I really look forward to reading each new post you publish. And I’m only one of 1,000. We all feel the same way. There is no one like you, my friend.

    • Ollin says:

      Awww, thank you Miss R. No I hadn’t realized that I had much impact. To tell you the truth I felt it was being egotistical to feel like I had that much influence on people. But then I realized it was egotistical to NOT realize the influence I had. Now that I realize my influence I take the responsibility seriously and I am always reminded how important my presence online is. So I hope to continue to be around for a bit. Thanks for your kind words.

  11. Unabridged Girl says:

    What a wonderful post! And I am so proud of you, Ollin! It’s been great, watching your growth this last year. You really have touched and influenced people for the better. It’s amazing. And it’s beautiful.

    • Ollin says:

      Thank you Kenzie. That means so much coming from you. You have deeply influenced me as well. I hope you know. Your story and blog are truly inspiring. Keep it up.

  12. krpooler says:

    Ollin,

    This is such a great post with a powerful message of how important kindness is in our world. You show us by your example of how you have touched so many just by being genuine and willing to share your thoughts and feelings so honestly-“write with care and write with love and go out and make a positive difference”. I can always count on being inspired and enlightened when I visit your blog🙂

    Write On!
    Kathy

  13. Alexis says:

    I really do love your blog, Ollin. You write honestly and with positive, selfless intentions. The “blogosphere” could use more bloggers like you.

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