I would say that, right now, worldwide, people are wishing the world were a better place. War, famine, politics and extreme weather are making the world an increasingly difficult place in which to live.
And I am guessing that most people would like to change our world, if they could, but feel helpless in the face of it all.
Fortunately, there are ways that every person can make a difference in the world. Every day.
#1 – Be kind.
You know when you are having a really bad day and that person in the elevator gives you a smile and says good morning? How does that feel? Great, right?
How about that time the person in front of you at the grocery store was a few dollars short and you offered to pay. Remember the look of gratitude she gave you and how good you felt? Amazing, right?
Imagine if every person in the world did one kind thing every day. The wonderful thing about acts of kindness is that they make everyone feel good. And people who feel good do kind things to other people.
Paying it forward and making the world better, one kindness at a time.
#2 – Don’t litter. Or idle.
I used to live on a dirt country road. It was a road through the woods, lined with a cemetery and dotted with houses. Every morning someone drove down our country road and threw his ripped up lottery tickets and his strawberry milk bottle out of his car window.
Dumping trash has a huge environmental consequence. The dyes from the trash are absorbed by the soil. That toxic soil damages the trees and plants that animals and birds feed from. Drains get clogged, which can cause flooding. Waterways get polluted and kill plant and fish life.
All because of some lottery tickets and strawberry milk.
Last week I was waiting in line to get on a car ferry and almost every single person in that line sat with their car idling. The amount of carbon emissions being released into our atmosphere so that people could stay cool in their air-conditioned cars was staggering.
And at that moment millions of cars around the world were releasing their own emissions, further depleting our ozone layer and causing the scary weather systems that are slowly destroying our planet.
Imagine the positive effect if even half of us turned off our cars while waiting. It would certainly slow the ozone layer depletion, even if only just a bit.
So be aware of how your everyday habits affect our environment. You can literally make the world a better place with just a little awareness.
#3 – Don’t judge.
You know that person who pissed you off today. The one who interrupted a meeting or spilled coffee on you or who was brusque on the phone? Yes, that person.
And how did you react to that person? Did you think What a bitch. Or What a jerk.
It’s important that we NOT judge people because of their actions. You just don’t know what has happened to that person that has made them behave that way.
Perhaps that person who interrupted the meeting had to run home to care for a sick child. Or that person who spilled coffee hadn’t slept well the night before because she was up late worrying about how to pay her taxes.
People are trying to do their best. Life is hard. Cut people some slack and believe that if they could do it differently they would.
#4 – Be helpful.
One of the striking things about living in NYC is how often you see people struggling and how, more often than not, no one reaches out to help. Not maliciously but because people in NYC keep their heads down and mind their own business.
And then you see moments of pure selflessness.
Last week I saw a woman who, when crossing the street, noticed a homeless man behind her, shuffling along. She knew he wouldn’t make it across before the light turned red so she stopped and waved her arms at approaching vehicles. Because she did, cars slowed and the man made it across in one piece.
The homeless man was thankful and I saw passersby take notice of what she had done. I am willing to bet that those passersby did something nice for someone else that night, inspired by what they had seen.
Paying it forward and making the world a better place. Again.
#5 – Put down your phone.
There are so many reasons why putting down your phone will make the world a better place.
If you put down your phone you can stop filling your brain with images of politicians doing stupid things, of violent happenings world wide and people writing nasty things about each other. This will make you happier and more inclined to do one of the recommendations above.
If you put down your phone you might look up and see the moon or an act of kindness or the person you love. You might even see an opportunity that could change your life or make the world a better place.
Put down your phone. Engage in life. Pay attention. Make a difference.
The world we live in is a difficult one. Every day we are faced with issues that suck us dry, individually and collectively. It doesn’t have to be that way.
Make small changes to the ways you interact in the world and, together, we can make the world a better place.
Looking for more ways to change the world? Contact me and I can help.
I am a NYC based Certified Life Coach and mental health advocate. My writing has been published on The Huffington Post, Prevention, Psych Central, Pop Sugar, MSN and The Good Man Project, among others. I work with all kinds of people to help them go from depressed and overwhelmed to confident and happy in their relationships and in their world.