“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