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World peace begins with inner peace. Your greatest impact on others and the world will only come when you have looked deeply inside and made peace with what you find there. But what if what you find makes you squirm? What if you hate what you find?

The answer is love; it is always love.

The person you need to love most–who most needs your love–is YOU. Loving and caring for yourself first isn’t selfish, it’s self-full. This means caring for your Self with gentleness and compassion. If you need to forgive yourself or others, do it and the energy of the anger and resentment you once carried will be available to fuel your dreams. When you offer and accept love of and for yourself, then your heart will overflow with love for others. You will find yourself being more kind, more patient, more accepting and more generous with yourself and others.

The path to a peaceful, authentic life begins with this love for oneself. You can’t be authentic with yourself or others if you don’t like what you see in the mirror. To cultivate self-love, you must embrace your shadow self—those tender parts that you feel ashamed of and fear to share with others—and quench them with love. Those tragic and terrible mistakes you made, the ego that lashed out at others, that wounded and abused child who shivers in your heart—work to make peace with them for they are also aspects of your Self. It is heartbreaking work, accepting the shadow self, but in fact, your heart must break if it is to open at all.

But how to achieve this inner peace, this self-love? Two ways—through generosity and through gratitude. Being generous with yourself and others is the surest and fastest way to open your heart. A Tibetan Buddhist lama once commanded me to stop feeling sorry for myself and start thinking about the happiness of others. When I followed his advice by performing daily acts of intentional kindness, I learned that everyone suffers and is engaged in a heroic battle to survive and thrive. As a result, I gained perspective around my own illness and troubles and was able to release them all.

Acts of kindness can be as simple as letting the mom with the crying child go ahead of you in line or sending a thoughtful handwritten note to someone in need of comfort. Every time you perform an act of kindness, your body produces pain-killing endorphins and mood-boosting serotonin that can heal your body and, more importantly, heal your heart.

As your heart begins to open and heal, feelings of gratitude will naturally arise. You will find you appreciate people and things more. It will begin to seem that every experience that enters your life is a blessing—from your most caring friends to your most bitter enemies (who, you suddenly realize, are your greatest teachers).

As generosity and gratitude permeate your life, your inner peace will shine through you like a beacon that attracts love and abundance to you. It is a virtuous circle that generates greater and greater peace within; a peace so compelling and complete, it infuses everything you touch. THAT is when world peace becomes possible and when you are positioned to make a genuine impact on the world.

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CJ Scarlet knows first-hand how violence can destroy lives. A survivor of rape at the age of 19, Scarlet spent a decade dealing with the emotional aftermath of her experience. Then she took her power back and became an advocate for others who had been victimized, volunteering on the boards of rape crisis and domestic violence agencies, running a child advocacy center, and working as Director of Victims Issues for the NC Attorney General’s Office.

But just when things couldn’t get any better, the bottom fell out. CJ’s long-term battle with lupus morphed into a life-threatening heart condition, and she was told she was going to die. Within months, CJ went from workaholic to crawling up the stairs on her hands and knees.

Then one day a Tibetan Buddhist Lama ordered her to “stop feeling sorry for herself and focus on the happiness of others” and her life was transformed. The more CJ benefited others by performing daily acts of kindness, the happier she became and the better she felt. Amazingly, within two years her condition went into remission!

CJ is an award-winning entrepreneur, victim advocate, motivational speaker, author and inventor. The former Marine Corps photojournalist has given speeches and workshops at national and international events; and has appeared on numerous radio and television programs.

CJ holds a B.A. in Political Science from Virginia Wesleyan College and an interdisciplinary M.A. in Humanities with an emphasis on Human Violence and graduate certificate in Women’s Studies from Old Dominion University. She is a member of the Board of Directors for the NC Lupus Foundation President of the North Carolina Veterans Business Association, and a volunteer with Soroptimist Raleigh and the Women Marines Association.

Named one of the “Happy 100” people on the planet, CJ’s story is featured in several books, including bestsellers Happy for No Reason and Be Invincible.

For more information, please visit

This Post Has 7 Comments

  1. As generosity and gratitude permeate your life, your inner peace will shine through you like a beacon that attracts love and abundance to you.
    I have found this statement to be so true. When I am not in this mode, life becomes more difficult and dull.

    1. I agree with you, Virginia. Life becomes very dull, difficult and even meaningless when there is no gratitude or generosity. Thank you for sharing. Peace, CJ

    1. Isn’t it amazing, Kim, how words can soothe. Whenever I feel disconnected, I pick up a book by Eckert Tolle or Depak Chopra and I’m all straightened out again:-) Peace, CJ

  2. CJ – thanks for this quick, yet critical reminder. I only wish I had this lesson sooner in life. I have been absorbed in Marianne Williamson’s book ‘a return to love’ and am working through recovery of my own assault and poor decisions/behavior in life. Love *is* and *feels* like the answer. Based on my experiences *not being kind or loving* to me has been the cause of a significant amount of unrest and upset.

    Love has given me hope and knowing it’s there, always, and it’s up to me to stay with it; brings a tremendous amount of peace. Don’t get me wrong, when this is new – it’s hard and takes practice. I’ve had to open up spiritually. Changing behavior and thought patterns are hard – your tips on gratitude is *the* best spot to start (one of the hardest habits for me to form – takes time).

    I think for people who have experienced any type of assault/emotional trauma and suppressed feelings, finding the strength to keep working towards peace and practicing daily love is important. When you boil it down, thinking and acting out of love is simple and ensures a happy outcome no matter your past or ideas of what the future holds. Thanks for the inspiration and best wishes to you all.

  3. Excellent points, Holly! I am so happy for you that you are finding hope and are practicing gratitude. You are right, it is important, especially for survivors (I like to call them “Thrivers”) who have experienced things that made them hate themselves, to keep working toward peace and self-love. Interestingly, it was the traumas and tragic mistakes themselves that led me to the peace I have found; after all, those things forced me to go places in my psyche/mind that I never would have gone to voluntarily. I am now actually grateful for each experience and teacher that I have crossed paths with. Keep up the fantastic work and thank you for your kind comments. Peace and hugs, CJ

  4. Love, kindness, and other’s happiness are our element of life. Thanks for your outstand point of view.

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