Like you, I’m a doer. I’m always doing whatever I can to improve the world around me. I volunteer in my community, give to important causes, and generally work to be part of the solution. Most of the time, I am positive about the future. Most days I feel like the world is slowly turning toward the good. Still, there are days when I feel like the world is going to hell in a handbasket and there’s simply nothing I can do to fix it. Yet, in my heart, I know that there is always something – no matter how small – that I can be doing that will make a difference. So, I’ve put some options into this list for you, for those days when you feel like you’ve run out of ideas and could use some inspiration. Give them a try and let me know if they work, in the comments.
Sure it’s corny. Yes, it’s cheesy and silly and will make you a little self-conscious, but it works! Smiling as you go about your day will help brighten the days of those you meet and interact with. Plus, smiling has been clinically proven to improve your mood, and your good mood will rub off on those who have the good fortune of crossing your path.
2. Be Kind
As the old saying goes, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” Have you ever been slogging through a particularly rough day when out of nowhere someone was kind to you and it turned your whole day around? After that, your mood lightened, the sun brightened, and everything seemed okay again. Sometimes, all it takes to make the whole world seem like a better place is one small act of kindness. If all of us perform little acts of kindness it truly can transform the world.
3. Pick Up Trash
Feel like the world is a mess? Then clean it up! If everyone picked up just one piece of trash every day, imagine how much cleaner our communities would be. Think of it this way: You can choose to walk past a piece of garbage on the street and wonder why somebody doesn’t clean it up or you can heed these words from Lily Tomlin, “I said, ‘Somebody should do something about that.’ Then I realized I am somebody.”
4. Thank Your Mom or Dad
Pick one thing your Mom or Dad did for you when you were a kid that you have to do for yourself as an adult. Now, call, email, or text her or him and thank her or him for always doing that thing for you. Being a parent is thankless work and you will absolutely make your parent’s day if you thank her or him for something you once took for granted. The world can always use more parents who feel appreciated.
5. Encourage a Child
Remember those times when you were a kid and an adult told you they believed in you? It made you feel good, right? It made you believe in yourself. One of the cool things about being an adult is that now you can be that adult to a kid in your life. Pay if forward.
6. Open a Door for Someone, Literally
People love to be noticed. Opening a door for someone is a nice way to say, “I noticed you there and thought I would clear this pesky obstruction from your path.” Chivalry might be dead, but everyone likes having doors opened for them (especially if they’re carrying heavy stuff). It may be a small act, but it is an act of kindness no less.
7. Open a Door for Someone, Figuratively
Can you think of someone who is struggling and could use a hand up? Think about it a little longer and you might be able to think of a way you could be the person to give it to them. Now, if you take action on that thought, you could be the factor that turns things around for the person. And just that quickly, you’ve made the world a whole lot brighter for someone.
8. Turn Something Off
The science is clear, global climate change is happening and manmade carbon dioxide is contributing to it. Every time fossil fuels are burned carbon dioxide is created, and pretty much any time you use electricity in your home or office, or start your car, you are burning fossil fuels. So, help turn the tide. Turn off a light, turn down the thermostat, or leave the car parked in the garage. Don’t look now, but you’ve just helped save the planet. Nicely done.
9. Compliment a Stranger
Have you ever told the cashier at the supermarket that you like his haircut and watched his reaction? He smiles, stands up a little straighter, and suddenly seems happier in his work. It’s almost like magic. Complimenting someone who doesn’t know you can have a lasting impact. Tell that same cashier that you come into his store each week and are always impressed by how friendly he is with everyone, and you could make his whole month! You can bet that he isn’t always in the mood to be friendly with everyone, so if he is then he must figure that being friendly is an important part of doing his job well. You tossed him a quick compliment and actually told him you noticed that he excels at what he does – you can bet he’s going to take that to heart. Genuine compliments make a genuine difference.
10. Tell Someone You Love Something You Love About Them
This is like complimenting a stranger, but deeper and a little tougher to do right. It’s best to work it into a larger conversation somehow… just blurting out to your husband that you love the way he cooks out of the blue might make him think you’re simply trying to con him into cooking dinner tonight. However, if he just finished cooking the meal you’re enjoying and you say, “I’ve always loved being married to such a fantastic chef,” you will probably make him feel like a million bucks. We all love the people we love for thousands of tiny reasons. Pick any one of them and share it with that person. You might be surprised by how much it matters to them.
There they are! Ten things you can do right now to make the world a better place. Go give ‘em a try and keep doing all the good work you’re doing. It matters. You matter. You make a difference.