What if you could change the world today? If you could make the world better, even by just a tiny bit, would you? I hear you say, “Of course.” And then I hear you say, “But…” But, “what can I do?” or “I don’t have time” or “I don’t know how.”
Making a difference doesn’t have to be big, bold, or inconvenient. Giving back can go hand in hand with saving money, saving time, and creating more peace and connection. Pick one or two ideas from the list below – and try it! The ideas on this list may sound small… but imagine if hundreds, thousands, millions of us all did something small today to make the world more positive.
Tell me how it goes. And if you have more you’d like to add, please share below!
- Speak positively. Commit to one day, or even just one hour, when you only talk about the good stuff. Skip the gossip, complaining, and blaming. Instead, notice the positive in others, and take a moment to share it out loud. Ask someone about the best thing happening in his or her life. Start a conversation about the things you are grateful for. Share a funny story, some positive news, or a useful tip you learned. And if your conversation partner is having a tough time in their life, hold space for their story, refrain from jumping in with your own complaints, and give the gift of compassionate listening. Tip: positivity is beneficial whether the conversation is out loud or just in your own head! ;)
- Be the kind of person you’d love someone else to be in traffic. Have you ever had someone treat you terribly in traffic and it lingered in your heart all day, or the opposite happened and it reminded you of the good in humanity?Let’s be the change – in traffic. Let someone in, wave at someone to say thanks, give a forgiving smile rather than flashing a dirty look, and follow at a safe distance. These simple actions can create a domino effect of positivity for those around you – and they also make our roads safer for everyone!
- Vote with your dollars. Not every shopping trip has to be perfect – but maybe you can choose one or two items on your next grocery trip to make a choice to benefit our community and our environment. Choose products from companies with values you support, buy local and organic, or simply buy less unnecessary stuff.
- Talk to strangers. I live in Seattle, and there’s a thing called the Seattle Freeze, meaning that we have a reputation for not being friendly. If you live in Seattle, let’s change that together! I once read a book that included an exercise of saying “Hi” to 50 people a week. I tried it. It was quite a stretch, but I loved it. I became more friendly, open, and excited about going places. I was meeting all kinds of interesting people and my life felt bigger and better. If 50 feels like a stretch, start with one extra person today, or maybe five. What’s your goal for the day?
- Ask someone for help. This might sound like an odd one. An exercise I was assigned in a psychology class in college was to try three things and note the difference. Talk to a stranger, ask a stranger for help, and touch a stranger. Then notice the different impact each had. It’s a wonderful experience. I dare you to try it, and just see what happens! It’s amazing!
- Lessen the violence in the world. We want less violence in the world and are horrified by what we see, but are we willing to make choices to make a difference? Sponsors won’t support shows and movies that aren’t watched. If you want less violence, stop supporting it and watch less of it. This includes unnecessarily violent news coverage – you can stay responsibly informed without watching every horrific event on TV. It impacts all of us and the kids in our communities.
- Choose one item, meal, or day per week to eat more healthfully. I had a great dentist for years, and I loved hearing the conversations around me while he worked on my teeth. One I have always remembered was about shopping the periphery of the grocery store. The edges within grocery stores have the healthiest items, with less packaging and processing. Better for your health and better for the planet. Shop there!
- Be kind throughout the day. Whether you’re at work or interacting with someone in their job, take extra care to be grateful, gracious, and kind. Open doors for people, and be genuine when you say “thank you” and “you’re welcome.” Every interaction we have impacts us and the other person… and everyone we interact with for the rest of the day. Notice next time someone does something exceptionally nice or not nice to you, and how you behave towards everyone after that. If everyone did their best at this, the world would be a much kinder place.
- Be grateful for what we have. It’s so easy to take our good fortune for granted. I had a big wake up call recently when I walked into the produce section of my grocery store and there was no lettuce because of the recent E. coli outbreak. To walk into a store and see that big, empty row… well, that was quite a shock! It prompted me to think about my sense of entitlement not only to fruits and vegetables, but also that they are nearly perfect! You can make this concrete by writing gratitude lists, and taking an intentional moment to deeply reflect on what you are grateful for – even for something as seemingly mundane as lettuce.
- Volunteer. You have so much good inside of you – share it! Share your skills, talent, time and love. Maybe it’s signing up to officially volunteer with a local organization, or maybe it’s helping a neighbor without expecting anything in return. For extra credit, team up with your family or friends to volunteer.
- Be present with yourself and others. We hardly connect any more, with others or with ourselves. We live lives of busyness and avoidance. We watch TV or some version thereof, look at our phones constantly, shop, eat, drink, and multi-task. When is the last time you just sat and had a long, deep conversation without interruption or alcohol? Make a date with a friend, partner, family member, or yourself to connect and be fully present in the moment. It’s truly all we have!
One of my favorite books, “The Tipping Point” by Jeff Olsen, talks about how change happens one small step at a time until there is a tipping point, like with compound interest, where those small changes add up to something big. Yes, this is about changing the world… and changing the world starts with you and me. Starting small can set your life in a wonderful new direction. Pick one or a few and see what happens in your life. I dare you! And share your experience in the comments below… and if have other ideas for us please add those too. Together we can do amazing things!