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We Can Make the World a Better Place, One Interaction at a Time

“Waste no more time arguing about what a good man should be. Be one.” ~Marcus Aurelius

Now more than ever, the world needs good people.

While driving home from a job interview the other day, I listened to Joe Rogan talking about how he treats strangers who act mean or hostile to him, for apparently no reason at all.

His modus operandi is essentially, “Let it go. You never know what kind of day the other person is having.”

This resonated with me exceptionally well. It’s one of the big things I’ve been focusing on in the latter half of 2017—being nice to people no matter what the scenario.

I consider myself an above average kind person. I’m always appreciative and friendly with servers at restaurants. I thank the pilot every time I walk off a flight (after all, for a few brief hours he is 100 percent in control of my life). And, I smile when greeted by a stranger.

But, I am beautifully flawed much like the rest. Occasionally, emotions get the best of me. When my ego gets offended, instead of acting with love and kindness, my gut reaction turns to anger and “how dare he!”

I’ve practiced being a good human being for as long as I can remember. Now, I’m determined to keep that persona, regardless of the situation.

My Dance with the Devil

A few short weeks ago, I just so happened to be in a scenario that tested my new philosophy.

It may shock you when I say that I was driving a vehicle when this happened. Road rage is so uncommon these days, right?

Anyways, my fiancé and I had just pulled into the parking lot of the Target a few minutes down the road. We were in a hurry to travel to her parents’ place in the mountains, kicking off a relaxing weekend away from home.

The plan was to drop her off at the front then park the car. We were just stopping in for coffee and a few little things for our journey.

As I pulled up to the pedestrian crosswalk, the mega-sized truck in front of me slammed on its brakes, forcing me to do the same.

Instinctively, I threw my right arm in front of my fiancé while simultaneously blurting out an expletive. In the blink of an eye, my anxiety went from a one to an eight.

I looked around to find the cause for his sudden stop, but I saw nothing. No pedestrians. No other cars (besides me). No stray animals.

As the truck turned left and the driver came into clear view, I did something that immediately made me feel like a bad person: I flipped him the middle finger.

Making the World a Better Place, One Interaction at a Time

With all the hate, corruption, violence, and bullying that goes on in the world, why add more fuel to the fire?

Did I really need to flick that guy driving the truck off? I mean, what if he had just gotten a phone call that shook his world? My ignorant act of hatred might be the exact opposite of what that guy needed in that moment.

As Joe Rogan and many other individuals wiser than me would say, you never really know what kind of day that person is having.

I felt terrible for doing it. I still feel bad about it, but I know I need to move on. In quite literally a millisecond of weakness, I slipped up.

We all have egos that demand people treat us with respect. When the ego gets bruised, it’s extremely important to take a brief moment to decide how you want to respond instead of reacting impulsively.

The world doesn’t need more hate. It needs more love, compassion, and kindness.

If the other person was mean to you, it’s not a reflection of who you are as a human being; it’s likely something going on in their life. That person might be the happiest, most loving individual on the planet and could just be having the worst day ever.

By choosing to respond with kindness, you make the world a better place. Maybe that person realizes the error of his ways. Maybe he doesn’t. It really doesn’t matter.

What matters is that you took on an act of unkindness and refused to give it more power.

You want to improve the world we live in? Don’t focus on solving world peace, global hunger, or stopping corrupt politicians. Instead, focus on the day to day interactions you have with everyone around you.

Just imagine if all the rest of us would do the same.

How I Started Being Better

Being someone who responds to hate in a loving way is by no means a simple task. Your ego will want to defend itself, and you will find yourself reacting poorly, like I did.

There were a few things I started doing that helped make me a better person, but one thing stood above them all. Practicing mindfulness, primarily through meditation, was the game-changer for me.

Mindfulness gives you the extra “pause” you need in your life to properly defuse those tricky situations.

It’s not really something that can be explained, but you’ll know what I’m talking about when you begin your own practice.

My experience with meditation has always been a rollercoaster, practicing consistently at times and falling off the wagon at others. But now, I’ve made it a point to meditate every day.

Among plenty of other benefits, it makes me a better person, and that’s something I’ll never take for granted again.

About Jason Guiterrez

Jason Gutierrez helps people engineer their days for more happiness. He writes about being happier, healing anxiety, and other ways to improve yourself at The Monk Life. Check out his blog or sign up for his free newsletter to get practical advice and tips for becoming the best you.

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  • Nicole Smith

    I throw up a Peace Sign to other drivers.

  • richarddx7@yahoo.co.uk

    Honestly Jason, you lost me at “I consider myself an above average person”.

    One thing that will make the world a better place is if we stop rating ourselves as being better or worse, or “gooder” or “badder” than the people around us. We don’t know their situation. We also need to grow up and out of the duality of thinking of people as “good” or “bad” or better or worse than us or above or below average.

    A person truly devoted to self improvement never rates himself compared to others as he never fails to realise that we are all one.

  • yogiandthehound

    Thanks for this reminder, Jason! Reading this made me feel okay for being human – or at least remembering that

  • Poca

    Oh please!! Just chill. He didn’t mean anything bad by it. Life is too short to be so judgmental. One day when you are on your death bed, what Jason said won’t seem so important to you. you won’t even remember it.

  • richarddx7@yahoo.co.uk

    I didn’t judge anyone. Think i pretty much said the opposite actually 🙂

  • sian e lewis

    I agree in principle- BUT what the truck driver did was extremely dangerous and he needed to be made aware of it. No one has the right to endanger others however bad their own situation may be.

  • Jason

    Oh absolutely. But me flicking him off definitely did not help the situation.

  • Jason

    That’s the way to go.

  • Jason

    We all just keep on learning and growing 🙂

  • richarddx7@yahoo.co.uk

    The only way you are growing is fatter.

  • C Puerto

    Thank you, Jason, for the article on making the world a better place one interaction at a time. If everyone took baby steps and did their part to add kindness to the world, we’d all benefit. I’m a mother trying to mend fences between two daughters right now and so much of what you said could help them get over it, if they would only listen and stop being so stubborn. I sent them your piece, wish me luck.

  • C Puerto

    Great idea! Replace a negative with a positive. I’ve thought of making a large sign I could carry with me that read: HAVE A BETTER DAY!

  • Jason

    Being human is the best we can do!

  • Jason

    Good luck C! Changing the minds of others is so hard to do. All you can do is help and hope for the best.

  • Stephanie Leonard

    Lovely article Jason and something I can relate to and learn from. Thank you. It is inspiring to learn from someone trying to work on their own way of life in order to help others. It is a freeing experience when we realise that our potential to make change happen starts within us, and not the outside environment. One suggestion would be to be conscious of your language. I say this from a place of love not judgement. In the article unconsciously you use the word “he” for much of the world you are discussing. As a woman it stops me fully connecting to your writing, which is so full of gifts to helping me build a better life within. This could also be the same for those who do not identify to a particular gender. It would be even more powerful if the language of identity was a neutral. Using “they” for the pilot for example – so my world can connect more deeply with your world. Thanks again for your gift of writing. All the best. Steph