How to… Instantly Make the World Better

1-28-13 toolsMy instinct when hearing about a problem and even when seeing a problem walking by me is to instantly think of solutions. How can this problem be fixed? How can this person be or do better? I can’t fix most of what I see, whether on the news or walking by me at the grocery store, and that bothers me. (Just so you know, I am hardest on myself when it comes to fixing problems.) I am bothered by the sadness and apathy I see in the world, and I want to make it better somehow.

While I’m confessing here, let me also say that I’m a homebody. While there are others, one reason is that the visual stimulation overwhelms me when I go out in public. No, this is not a phobia, I promise. I just get so easily frustrated by people, by lives that are unhealthy in the spiritual, physical, emotional and relational sense. And that ill health affects all of who they are and what they will do – or not do – in life.

People seem in their own little worlds, unaware of how what they do or don’t do, say or don’t say, affects others, how it ripples out to affect their culture and world. Please know that I realize I contribute to this problem at times, but I have a great deal of control over changing that. I can’t make others change.

Fortunately, each person can instantly make the world better by doing small acts of respect. These small acts can not only brighten days on an individual level, they have the potential – as they accumulate over time – to affect change on a much larger scale.

Warning: These suggestions may rub some people the wrong way because they get at some habits that we carry rather close to us, and they force us to admit those habits may not always be beneficial. Yet, we need to realize that what often satisfies in the immediate can at the same time be contributing to a larger problem

1. 1-28-13 cel phonePut your cell phone away. When a friend stops mid-conversation to text, I feel unimportant. When the guy behind me in the checkout lane gets his items mixed in with mine because he’s talking on his phone, I feel invisible. And when someone swerves like a drunk because he’s texting while driving, that makes me angry. The message being sent, really, is that the person on the other end of the phone is more important than the person standing in front of them, more important than having manners, and even more important than my life.

If we can learn how to keep technology from consuming us (watch for a future post on this topic), perhaps personal value will increase and depression decrease. Maybe that would make the world a better place.

2. Use your turn signal. And use it before you actually slow down to turn. Life hands us so many unexpected bumps, and we all could really use more warnings to help us prepare. We all could use less abrupt stops and turns.1-28-13 Turn signal

Fewer driving frustration would significantly lessen the level of stress in a person’s life. Less stress would make the world better. Right?

3. Smile. There are a lot of unhappy people, probably largely because they feel unimportant and stressed. Research shows that smiling increases happiness and success. And the smile doesn’t always have to be genuine; even a forced smile brings these benefits.

1-28-13 smileNot only does smiling bring you benefits, those on the receiving end feel happier too. And wouldn’t more happiness make the world a better place?

As individuals, we can all play parts in shining light in this dark world through simple acts that require us to get outside ourselves by preferring and showing consideration to others. It’s these small acts that can instantly make the world better by helping people feel more valued and less alone. At least, I know that would make my world better.

AMPLIFY: There’s this crease in my forehead that gets deeper when I frown or am in deep thought and lessens when I smile and am more relaxed. I am so inside my head sometimes (I blame it on my melancholy, introverted personality), that I slight others by unintentionally ignoring them and probably frightening them with the crease that could hold a pencil. I need to get outside of myself, smile more, and decrease the crease.

DISCUSSION: What small acts do you think would make the world a better place?

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15 thoughts on “How to… Instantly Make the World Better

  1. When someone noticed I had only a few items at the store, she allowed me in front of her cart. That made the world a little nicer that day.

    By the way, the car signal made me chuckle. There's also the person whose signal blinks incessantly past turn after turn.

    • There are always ways. We just need to take the time to see & then do them. One extreme to another… though, I definitely notice more people not using them than leaving them on.

  2. I was making some decisions last week about small things that I was doing and I decided to take the extra time to do things in such a way that it would have a positive effect. I was tempted to not take the time to do that. For those items I tracked how much more time it took me to do it in a way that it should be done. Most of the choices only took a minute or two additional to do it in a way that I thought honored people and the way I would have wanted it done. I hate that I even considered "saving" time with short cuts on small items that could have cost good will. I hope that I am not so willing in the future to sell that good will for such a small price or for any price really.

    • Oh Mark, you expressed so well the battle that is in all of us. Being aware of that constant battle is a huge key. Then, deciding which animal to feed (which direction to take) is the next. It's those small decisions made over time that make or break us, isn't it? How we decide in those will determine how we'll decide in the big ones too. We are constantly looking at the consequences of taking the easy way, of taking shortcuts, with our youngest. Oh is that a nasty habit to break! We are constantly aware of the need to take our time, to not constantly look for the easy way out. I have areas where I struggle with that too. Simplifying my life has really helped me to be better able to make the right choices. Thanks for being transparent, Mark.

  3. You're so right about the cell phone, but I think we can amplify that. 🙂 My daughter came to me while I was processing email and wanted to tell me about this puzzle she solved and normally I would say, "Uh-huh, that's nice" and turn back to my work. But this time I slowed down and listened to her tell me all about it. She's my primary commitment after all.

    • Oh Melanie, good stuff! Not just stopping a bad habit but replacing it with one that connects and builds relationships. You have got what amplifying is all about. Eye contact would probably improve the world in tremendous ways. Thanks for the encouragement!

  4. God can certainly put self-centered people in our paths to test our ability to love as God loves… We do have this commandment to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. That does not say love as they may love us, or only love the considerate and lovable. In fact, Jesus says we are to love our enemy even. Ummm…What does that say when we feel irritated by the selfish acts of others? Your comments are timely because I know I can stumble when someone acts inconsiderate. I just try never to take it personal though… I have come to learn that is flattering myself too much. They just are selfish…

    • So true, coach. I try not to take it personally either. What bothers me even more than other's selfishness is when I see it in myself. I think that's what bothers me most when I experience it, knowing that I sometimes do the very act that I find frustrating in others.

    • Definitely ready to amplify in this area. Just not sure how yet exactly, except for decreasing the crease, of course. Thanks for the added encouragement and challenge. Also, by the way, I am working through your Proverbs series by doing a chapter a day in my devotional time. I am on chapter 6 tomorrow. Catching up!

  5. Pingback: How to… Live Grace | Struggle to Victory

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