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There is no denying the fact that we live in a dark, twisted world – just turn on your local news and you’ll find all the proof you need. It is important to remember that amid all the violence, hatred and negativity, we still ultimately hold the power in our own lives.

Growing up in our society, we are programmed to think and act in a specific way, one that breeds self-centeredness, selfishness, and competition. Everything we do, we feel the need to somehow be better, stronger, prettier, and more talented. In some situations, this is attained by working harder and dedicating ourselves, but many instances involve tearing others down in order to get ahead. We judge, attack, segregate, deceive and manipulate all with one focus in mind – ensuring that we get everything we believe that we deserve.

We are so determined to prove that we’re the best at everything that we do, that we completely overlook the thoughts and feelings of those around us. As a result, we pit ourselves against one another, fueling wars and acts of senseless violence.

Living in a world of fear, we are constantly looking over our shoulders. We take as many safety precautions as we can in an effort to keep ourselves safe, but in building barriers for self-preservation we are also keeping the world at a distance. This prevents us from establishing meaningful relationships, further isolating us which, in turn, makes it even easier to overlook the emotional needs of those around us.

Consider, for a moment, how different the world would be if each of us made a conscious decision to open our eyes, our minds and our hearts to the well-being of others. Each one of us is capable of showing compassion, sensitivity, and empathy, if we care enough to make a change in our way of thinking. Sure, we can only change our own individual lives which may seem small and insignificant. However, allowing yourself to become a beacon of light and hope in an otherwise dark and twisted world may inspire others to make a similar change.

The next time that you are considering doing ‘whatever it takes’ to get ahead, take a step back. Look around you. Could your actions cause harm to others? Is there a better plan of attack that would work by building one another up rather than tearing someone down? Rather than living your life driven by a mindset of competition, consider shifting your focus to cooperation.

It may be hard to believe, as you’ve been taught otherwise all your life either directly or indirectly, but many of the world’s most successful people hit their great heights in whatever industry they dominate by building up the people around them. They acknowledge that creating a culture of success will ultimately benefit everyone, rather than trying to achieve their goals and dreams on the backs of others.

In a world of negativity, are you looking for a change? If so, it’s time to take those first, important steps.

Image via Soul Travel Rules