Be A Light

Are you the sort of person who lights up a room when you walk in, or when you walk out? ~ Robert Holden

A few weeks ago, I wrote about a tough evening of tennis partly because of the really strong wind. While we were still warming up for the match, one of my teammates arrived and declared immediately, “It’s gonna be a miserable night!” Later, when the match was about to begin, our team captain said, “Let’s have fun. Remember, they [our opposing team] get the same wind also.”

two facesSame conditions, two different attitudes. If you were on our team that evening, who would you rather be around? Who do you think would normally light up the room when she walks in, vs. when she walks out?

In case it isn’t obvious, in talking about lighting up a room here, we aren’t talking about having striking good looks or an infectious smile. Rather, it’s about the energy we project, even if unknowingly. A person who lights up a room walking in is one who projects such good vibes—no  matter what’s objectively going on—that others can’t help but are drawn to him/her. Conversely, someone who seems to have a perpetual dark cloud overhead is more likely to light up a room when s/he leaves.

To be someone who lights up a room walking in is neither for the sake of vanity or popularity, nor is it a call to paint a happy face on every situation and be indiscriminantly positive. Rather, in asking ourselves this question posed by Dr. Holden, we allow others’ reaction to us to mirror our consciousness. Are we aware of what’s going on within us to hold our own, regardless of what’s going on outside us? Can we choose not to be automatically sucked into the undercurrent of our brain’s negativity bias?

Be a Light, not Dampener

Having said the above, how do we cultivate our consciousness such that we become a light instead of a dampener? Let’s look at 5 practices.

page of thank youPractice #1: Begin and end your day with Gratitude. Neuroscience research shows that we can literally rewire our brain’s negativity bias by developing new neural pathways. One way to do this is to be in active gratitude. Before you get swept up in the busyness of your day, make a gratitude list—e.g., 10 things for which you’re grateful. Anything goes; nothing is too small or insignificant. Do a similar practice at night before you go to sleep.

The idea is to infuse into your consciousness the practice of noticing what’s good in your life. This, in time, will shift you away from your natural human tendency to focus automatically on the negative.

Practice #2: Be an inner observer of your attitudes and thoughts. Make a point of pausing at some point each day to pay attention to how you’re reacting to what’s going on. Ask yourself what other perspectives there may be other than the one automatically populating your mind. If it’s less threatening to do so, practice it as a retrospective exercise. For instance, pick a stressful situation that occurred in the past, and ask yourself what other perspective(s) you may be able to bring to seeing this situation.

As you practice being an inner observer more and more, you’ll be able to shift your attitude more easily real time, on demand.

Practice #3: Be mindless. As much as it’s helpful to remember that you can choose your thoughts, it’s equally important to shift your mind to neutral on a regular basis. Adopt some kind of a meditation practice.

By meditation, don’t stress about how to do it “right.” You don’t need to sit on a meditation cushion in a lotus position. To some people, walking silently in nature is the greatest form of meditation. To others, tai chi, qigong, yoga and other forms of practice involving moving energy consciously through the body are great ways to quiet the mind and be present with the energy flow from one moment to the next.

By practicing being mindless, you’re more likely to catch yourself having thoughts that can be shifted.

energy of lovePractice #4: Connect with Love. If you really think about it, every attitude, every action is rooted in either Love or fear—and/or their respective clans. Love’s family includes compassion, kindness, trust, generosity, graciousness, etc., while fear’s kin includes control, jealousy, indignation, vengeance, defensiveness, etc. It’s human to experience fear and to act from that place now and again. So, this isn’t meant to be an exercise of self-indictment.

However, we can practice consciously remembering and connecting to our core that’s Love—not our defensive personality we’ve adopted to survive. By doing so, we can cultivate an awareness that, at any given moment, regardless of the circumstances, we can choose to be kind, compassionate, accepting, etc.—often to ourselves first, if not to others as well.

When we nurture this awareness, we allow ourselves to be a presence of Love wherever we go. This Love is expressed through our demeanor, attitudes and behavior. With a consciousness of Love, we easily become a light in any room into which we walk.

Practice #5: Intend to be a positive influence. No matter our station in life, each of us has a circle of influence. We touch people’s lives every day in large and small ways. By setting an intention to be a positive influence in our circle, we shape the attitude we adopt at every choice point, along with the corresponding behavior.

Intention is a very powerful precursor to action. Whether or not any of the above 4 practices speaks to you, just by intending to be a positive influence, you become one.

A Call To Action: Be A Light

With all the above said, let me invite you to join me in being a light in this world—wherever you are. All you need to do is to start with the rooms into which you walk—whether all the time (including your family, workplace, community, etc.), sometimes, or only once in your lifetime.

What do you say? Would you also invite your friends and family to join in and be a light in the rooms into which they walk?


Photo credit:

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About Alice Chan, Ph.D.

Dr. Alice Chan is passionate about developing conscious leaders and organizations. Her path to serve her life purpose has included being an award-winning Cornell professor and a leader in the corporate world for nearly 15 years. She’s the author of the book, REACH Your Dreams: Five Steps to be a Conscious Creator in Your Life, and creator of the program, 30 Days to Living Your Best Life. All content on this blog and website is her own, not the opinions of her employer.

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livelovework 1 Like

What a lovely post to read today, Alice! 

I have found having a greater awareness of what's going on inside me is the most important factor in living a healthy, positive, and light life. When I focus on the outside stuff, I get caught up in other people's conflict, bogged down by challenges, and don't enjoy life all that much. However, when I'm centered and peaceful within, I am more likely to be a light. 

Every one of your tips will ignite the light in all of us. My favorite of your tips is gratitude. I can never go wrong with gratitude!

Have a grateful day!


DrAliceChan moderator

@livelovework Chrysta, it's so true that when we focus on what goes on outside of ourselves, we get sucked into the drama and challenges. When we tend to our own inner peace, clarity and grounding, we can be a presence of calmness and be a beacon of light in objective chaos.  Thank you for adding your insights to this discussion!

cap99 1 Like

Hi Alice!

Love the photo.  Great article.  I was just having this conversation with my cousin the other day.  She said that she noticed that when I come into the room at a family event that the energy of the event, the room, and all the people in it changed for the better.  She actually said I am like a light!  I worked for a long time to cultivate that skill.  I am sending your article to her!  Thanks - Carol

DrAliceChan moderator

@cap99 Thank you! That's so great that you have that kind of impact on your family. Recently, I went to see an old colleague at her workplace. The energy there was so heavy that you could slice it with a knife! She was so happy to see me that she said, "I love your energy! Can you sit next to me and inspire me?" By continuing to practice tending to our own center, we do help by being a light, as you demonstrate in your share. Thank you again!

ThinDifference 1 Like

Alice, You outlined some great practices for us to embrace. Earlier this year, I heard Chade-Meng Tan, author of Search Inside Yourself, speak, and he highlighted a practice of kindness. Smiling at others and looking at the crowd around you with kindness changes you and those around you. It is about being a light in our world! Thanks! Jon

DrAliceChan moderator

@ThinDifference Great addition, Jon! A practice of kindness and smiling at people with whom we come into contact indeed helps us be a light in our world. Thank you for adding to this discussion!

letmemoveyou 1 Like

Hi Alice,

YOU, my friend, are a very bright light! Your energy is lovely and welcoming. I've been around a few of the others recently, the kind that light up the room when they leave, and suck the energy out of you if you're not careful.

But I have learned to look at them with compassion and hop that in shining my own light, they will see a reflection of something in them.

The more I honour who I am, no matter what is going on in the world around me, the more joy and happiness and peace I find and spread to others.

There is a bright light within everyone of us... but we still have to choose to turn it on. :)

Thank you for the tips and reminders. I practice them every day. xo

P.S. Keep writing... you are an inspiration to so many of us. You are such a blessing.

DrAliceChan moderator

@letmemoveyou Many thanks for your kinds words, Shelley! And, you're absolutely right on in terms of tending to our own inner peace. That's the only thing we can do. Others are not ours to "fix." By tending to our own light and being that, we can inspire others to remove what has covered up their own light, which is always there no matter what. Many thanks for stopping by today and sharing your insights. Much appreciated!

Hiten Vyas
Hiten Vyas 1 Like

Hi Alice,

Ah, what can I say? You're right. Great minds do think I like. After reading a few of your previous posts, I had a feeling we were both on the same wavelength. This post has confirmed this for me even more.

I loved what you wrote about being a light in the rooms we walk into. I could really resonate with what you wrote about choosing to connect with our core, which is love, rather than choosing fear. I've practiced something similar to this by developing a strong sense of compassion for people before I enter a particular environment. By doing this, I'm creating love for the people. It really does make me be positive and light in my attitude when I actually enter the situation and hopefully it has a positive impact on others too.

Thank you.

DrAliceChan moderator

@Hiten Vyas Hello Hiten, yes, I do believe we are on the same wavelength. We have similar wishes to serve others, even if the specifics of our paths are different. Thank you for sharing how you enter environments with compassion. There's a big need all over the world for more understanding and compassion. If by our sheer presence we can help to put others at ease, often without them knowing why, we're doing a small part to help bring more love to wherever we go. Thank you for adding your insights, Hiten, greatly appreciated!

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