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10 Ways to Make the World a Nicer Place

Kind Kid

“There are two primary choices in life: to accept conditions as they exist, or accept responsibility for changing them.” ~Denis Waitley  

I was spending some time with my nephews not too long ago. This is one of my favorite things to do because we have a lot of fun together. They’re silly and loving and inquisitive, and it’s easy to make them laugh.

Spending time with them reminds me that fun and laughter should be a part of my everyday life, and also makes me feel like a kid again.

When we were together that day, I asked them what they want to be when they grow up. My five-year-old nephew said, “I want to be a police so I can make the world a nicer place for everyone.”

I thought that was just about the sweetest and cutest thing he could possibly say, even though the thought of him becoming a police officer made me nervous. Why couldn’t he choose something safer?

Over the next few days, I couldn’t get that conversation out of my head because I realized that I don’t want him, as a five-year-old, taking on the responsibility of making the world a nicer place.

I want him to be focused on having fun and making friends and learning new things in school. I don’t think any child should have to worry about that.

I started thinking about the actions I could take to make the world a nicer place so that he can experience that right now. Many of us are already doing things that have a positive impact on the world, but we don’t always recognize or acknowledge them.

We can all make a difference by doing these simple actions more frequently and accepting the responsibility for a nicer world as our own.

1. Smile at others.

Smiling makes others feel good when they see us doing it and it makes us feel good, too. It allows us to feel connected to other people, and this improves all of our moods. When I smile at people in the store and I get smiles in return, I notice that I get an immediate mood boost.

2. Make eye contact with people.

Many times we look at the ground or our phones instead of acknowledging the people around us. We avoid talking to people in line with us at the grocery store, and we act like we don’t see other people when we pass by them on the street. When we make eye contact instead of ignoring people, we make them feel seen and worthy of our attention—something we all want and appreciate.

3. Take care of our environment.

We all want to live in a clean and beautiful environment. The first step is to recycle and take care of our resources instead of being wasteful. Doing this ensures we leave our children a world they can take pride in and enjoy comfortably.

4. Compliment other people.

It’s important that we tell others how they make a difference in our lives and that we see all the amazing things they do. We can make a tremendous difference in their lives by sharing our gratitude instead of just thinking about it. I make an effort to compliment others about their work and let them know how important they are to me because I know that everyone wants to know that they matter.

5. Be positive.

Everyone benefits when we stop complaining and find the positive instead of focusing on the negative. We can make life easier for ourselves, and the people around us, if we stop worrying about the worst-case scenarios and try to make the best of our situations. When we cultivate a positive mindset, we not only feel more positive, we’re also more likely to create more positive circumstances.

6. Help others.

We often help others expecting something in return, but this can lead to disappointment and resentment. The alternative is to help others, especially those who are struggling, simply because we want to live in a world where people look out for each other.

7. Be kinder to ourselves.

Forgiving ourselves for any mistakes we make is much kinder than always mentally beating ourselves up, and being kind to ourselves is crucial if we want the world to be a nicer place. When we’re kind and caring to ourselves, we’re more open to kindness from others and more likely to treat others well.

8. Stay mindful in the present moment.

If we stop dwelling on things that have happened in the past and worrying about what might happen in the future, we’ll be able to experience all of the wonderful things that are happening in the present. When my mind wanders, I bring myself back to the now with three deep breaths. Mindfulness is a powerful way to increase our happiness, and that can have a massive ripple effect on the world around us.

9. Express gratitude daily.

Acknowledging all of the amazing things that we have happened to us puts us in a positive mindset, and it also provides us with the opportunity to thank others for all they’ve done. I practice gratitude daily by recording at least three things that I’m grateful for at the end of the night, and I’ve noticed it makes a tremendous difference in my mood and my relationships.

10. Have fun!

A lot of times we make situations out to be more much more serious than they need to be and we forget to actually let go and have fun. Let’s make sure that enjoying life is a priority so that we can actually take advantage of living in a nicer world!

Photo by Juhan Sonin

Profile photo of Nicole Liloia

About Nicole Liloia

Nicole Liloia, LCSW is a stress+less coach and therapist who helps smart-yet-stressed women center themselves, develop self-care plans that stick, and transform their relationship to stress for life so they can stop feeling overwhelmed and start having fun. Join her in her 5-day Challenge to Stress Less at nicoleliloia.com.

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  • dcue

    I immediately felt better upon reading this post. It’s amazing how simple these suggestions seem, but are difficult to perform for some of us. Thank you for the reminder.

  • Nicole Liloia

    Thanks dcue! It’s so true that some of the simple things we do can become so hard for us — i help everyone I work with learn to make those tasks simple again!

  • Catherine Basu

    What a beautiful post, Nicole! I just got a cute new journal and have been using it to record good things that happen each day and I definitely think it’s made a difference for me. Thanks for all of these tips 🙂

  • Awesome post @nicoleliloia:disqus! Simple yet actionable steps, I smiled a lot while I was reading this :))

  • I am also just about to start my gratitude journal. Too many people have recommended it for me to not give it a try!

  • This is a great list Nicole! And no matter what your nephew decides to be when he grows up, I hope he maintains his desire to make the world a nicer place. 🙂

  • Nicole Liloia

    Thanks Jenn — Simple is the way to go 🙂

  • Nicole Liloia

    Thanks Catherine! I noticed when I record things that I make more of an effort to have happy experiences!

  • Nicole Liloia

    yes you definitely have to give it a try! let me know how it goes 🙂

  • Nicole Liloia

    Thanks Ed! I’m sure he will — he already has the heart for it!

  • Aim

    I read this and first got mad at the world. I almost always do 1-4, and 6 but tend to get upset when people don’t do the same. I decided to take a step back though and realize that I can’t control the world; I can only control me. I use the onesentencediary to try to remember my life but I think I should start putting in at least one thing per day that I am grateful for as well. I also have to work on the points that I don’t currently do. Thanks for the reminder that the world can be a nicer place……we just need to start being nicer!

  • Teri Smart

    Great Post! We need to keep all these things in mind, being nicer people will naturally make this a nicer place to live 🙂

  • Nicole Liloia

    Thanks for reading 🙂 it’s so true that we just need to focus on being nicer and everything else will be nicer

  • Nicole Liloia

    such a huge learning process to understand that we can only control ourselves – it’s so tempting to try to make others do what we want them to!

  • Lily

    What a wonderful list! I’m personally a huge fan of #9. Gratitude is the best way to reframe a negative into a positive. There’s always something to be grateful, even the simplest of things. 🙂

  • Nicole Liloia

    Thanks Lily! Yes gratitude doesn’t have to be about the big things — we should be remember to be grateful for the everyday things as well!

  • You are spot on with smiling and eye contact…the simplest human connection can turn one’s day around. And a splash of gratitude each and every day certainly makes even the toughest situations and environments come to life with peace and kindness. Thanks for the great reminder to stay present and open yourself up to the simplicities of a nice life.

  • Alanna Wong

    I love this post!! Such important life lessons to follow!! <3

  • Nicole Liloia

    Thanks Alanna!

  • such important yet simple things that we can all do. thanks for such a great reminder!

  • Nicole Liloia

    Thanks for reading!

  • Nicole Liloia

    Connection with others is so important for making the world a nicer place (and for making us feel good too!).

  • Yes it’s the simple things that mean so much. It’s when we get in touch with those things, our heart starts to tell us what we must do to keep it that way. Love is powerful, more so than hate and I hope my nephew (like yours) gets to encounter a world full of love when they grow up (or even now)

  • Fantastic post Nicole! I think the world would be such a better place if we all focused on one of these simple but powerful actions each month for 10 months. I’m a big fan of #4 right now. Paying a sincere compliment to someone takes so little time and can have such an amazing affect on others. Well done!

  • Lisa

    I love this post! Every point rings so true. It really is about the little steps you take every day and the joy it brings to yourself and others. I need to write these on my bathroom mirror as a daily gentle reminder 🙂

    Thank you for that!

  • Reed Mowrey

    I really do find it quite interesting how much a single smile can make from a complete stranger. I am attending an university where I don’t fit in as well as I would like, I have found it to be quite a struggle to make friends, or even acquaintances. Quite frankly, I often dread going to classes because the fact of still not having any friends is a kind of slap to the face. But its amazing that as I walk between classes, if a single stranger smiles and I smile back, it instantly lifts my mood and helps me make that day, a better day.