Monday, March 6, 2017

An Everyday Guide to World Peace

Linda Coussement is the author of the Everyday Guide to World Peace. Now embarking on a journey to help more and more people find peace within, so that they come together to build world peace, Linda's work is a slowly expanding and inclusive process. Here is her story. 

I grew up in what I guess qualified as a middle class family. We didn’t have a lot of money but were not poor either. I was very lucky to have grown up in a family with parents who stimulated me to do my best. They stimulated me to go to the best schools and to attend the university I wanted to. They always gave me the opportunities and chances to do all that I wanted to. But while my education helped me develop my rational, logical and educational side, I missed out on the emotional side.
It took me a long time to understand emotions and how they work in a human being. I was very sensitive as a child, and was very easily influenced by things that happened around me. So, from a very young age, I shut myself off and kept myself away from the things that would bring me down emotionally. I had a fairly happy childhood, and then went onto studying international business. Because at the time I thought I wanted a big career, a big house, and a car.

I went onto work at Vodafone, where I discovered that I was great at managing projects and processes, and I did that for a while in a consulting capacity later, for many telecom companies. I noticed that in whatever portfolio I held under this spectrum, I was always managing change in some way or the other. It is not easy to manage change: people see the need for change, but people are not always willing to change. I realized then, that the people side of life is far more important than the theoretical side.

Soon, I moved to Amsterdam, where I got into yoga and connected with the spiritual side of life. I began to develop my softer and emotional side, and worked hard on developing both sides of my brain equally. After doing some freelance business consulting, helping my brother with his start up for a few years, and dabbling in startup coaching, I realized none of these things truly aligned with my dream and my vision. Later on, I did however realize that all these steps were necessary in order for me to get to where I am right now.

But..I wanted to do things differently. To step away from the big career and house and really follow my dreams and intuition.

I decided to take the question I had been working on in the back of my mind: “How is it to be you?” out on the road. The question had come to me when I was hiking by myself in Normandy. After a few days, my too small shoes caused me unbearable pain. And when you are on your own, hiking and in pain, you begin to face things with a renewed clarity.

It came to me that you get a manual for everything, even the smallest of contraptions, like a pair of earphones, for instance. But humans, they pop out and grow up without any manual or instructions whatsoever! If you are lucky, you have parents who help you figure things out. But if you’re not lucky, you don’t have anyone to turn to. So I decided to write this ‘manual to life’ – but, a few hours later, I found myself wondering: “Who am I to write this?” So, I decided to find out how other people experience how it is to be them instead.

One and a half years ago, I rented out my house, and moved to Berlin to study documentary filmmaking. I then travelled onwards to countries in Eastern and Southern Europe to make portraits and talk to people. Though it was very valuable and a lot of fun, I felt like something was missing. A few months into my travels it came to me: World Peace. The refugee crisis and terrorism around the world made me realize that world peace is the goal I had to pursue, and that led to the creation of the Everyday Guide to World Peace. The manifesto upon which my entire life and business is build.

It took me a year to write even though it’s only 19 pages long. The first draft started with all the pain in the world – terrorism, war, dead children… I gave it to my brother and a few friends to read, and they got back saying that it wasn’t upbeat or happy – or something that made them feel good reading, it was depressing. It was good feedback, and I had a few more iterations. The process of writing the book was very difficult because I had to zoom into the pain of the people affected by all the horrible things that are happening in the world right now. But finally, after many rounds, it clicked, and it is now a very positive and uplifting book that can definitely make a positive impact in the world.

The basic point of the Everyday Guide to World Peace is that even though World Peace is a very big and probably impossible ambition; it is very well possible to find peace in yourself and in your relationships. So don’t be blindsided by the hugeness of it all; you don’t have to be a big shot philantropist – you could be a school teacher or a business consultant and everything in between – and still make peace in your own way. One little smile, or a random act of kindness – they all count and they all make a big difference.

The response has been wonderful. Everyone loves it – it is not setting the world on fire, but that’s how it is with a goal like world peace. It is a slow goal and a long-term one. Connecting with others to share the message has been the most rewarding part of the journey. I want to keep the networking going, and keep doing the interviews. I want to add more depth to the process by creating a bigger ‘World Peace’ book and make a bigger, and even more positive dent in the universe. I have also developed another concept called “Design your Life” with which I help individuals get to that inner peace. It is one of the ways to get the larger ideal of world peace going. Each one that is happy can make others happy too.

Read Linda's book here.