“If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. … We need not wait to see what others do.” – Gandhi
Besides, you already have a full plate between your family and your career. Not to mention trying to be a fuller person by watching what you eat, exercising more and taking better care of your skin. Now, you want to add world peace to the mix of things to do today?
Yes, because real change starts within ourselves. Each one of us can make the world a better place when we act with purpose, compassion and love. Every day, you have an opportunity to add value to the world and encourage others to do the same.
You don’t have to quit your job and start a non-profit, join the Peace Corps, or become the next Mother Teresa to make a real difference. Even small changes can have a meaningful and lasting impact.
Not sure where to start?
Here are five simple ways that you can help make the world a better place:
Volunteer to Help Others
Volunteering helps communities, organizations and local governments save money and allocate resources towards other projects that build and strengthen the community. According to the Corporation for National & Community Service, 62.6 million volunteers completed 7.8 billion hours of community service in 2016, totaling an estimated value of $184 billion.
By giving your time and contributing to your community, you can make a difference in someone else’s life.
Helping others also teaches you a new skill, introduces you to new friends, and gives you a sense of accomplishment and purpose. Plus, when you help people in need, it shifts your perspective about your own situation and makes you more grateful for the things you have. Research shows that people who volunteer are healthier and happier than those that don’t.
There are volunteer opportunities to suit everyone, regardless of ability or availability. Discover what cause you’re passionate about and research ways you can help.
Start by volunteering one-two hours a month and:
- Visit a senior center
- Deliver food for a meal-delivery service
- Volunteer at a hospital
- Pick up litter at a park
- Walk dogs at your local shelter
- Refurbish a hiking trail
- Mentor or tutor students at a local high school or community college
- Take a volunteer vacation
- Get involved at your child’s school
- Help with tickets or tours at your local museum
If you’re strapped for time, but still want to help, donate blood. It’s quick and easy.
Spend Your Money with Purpose
Choose how you spend your hard-earned money carefully and buy products or services from companies that align with your values, even if it means paying a little bit more.
Supporting small businesses also has a significant impact on your community and the global economy. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, small businesses represent 99.7 percent of employers, and have generated 64 percent of new jobs in the last 20 years. Small businesses also tend to “shop local” themselves by hiring resident service providers and carrying small-batch goods produced in their community. In addition, small business owners, many of whom have invested their life savings in their companies, are incentivized to make their community successful, so they’re more likely to “pay it forward.”
Learn more about the companies where you do business, their mission and their products. When you make meaningful choices and exercise your purchasing power, you’ll feel better about the financial decisions you’re making and the impact they’re having on the economy, the environment and other people.
Be Kind & Compassionate
Every action you take in your daily life affects the people you interact with. It also affects your emotional and physical well-being. People who act with kindness and compassion tend to be happier and live longer. Simply doing something nice for someone else can reduce stress, depression and anxiety, and improve well-being. It also changes our perception about the way we see ourselves and others.
Humans are hardwired to be altruistic and connect with other people, and when we do good, we feel good. That emotional and physical well-being carries over into every aspect of our lives.
Being kind and doing good deeds also creates a ripple or domino effect – when others experience or witness kindness, they’re more likely be kind themselves.
Make someone’s day better by:
- Holding the door open for them
- Being polite and saying good morning, please, thank you or you’re welcome
- Helping them with a project or chore
- Buying a cup of coffee for a stranger
- Giving them a compliment
- Being considerate of the person serving you at a restaurant or coffee shop by not talking on your phone and asking about their day
- Offering to run an errand for a friend
- Leaving a special note in your child or spouse’s lunch
- Giving your mail carrier or garbage man a bottle of water & thanking them for what they do
- Listening to someone without interrupting or thinking about what you intend to say in response
- Saying thank you to a fireman, police officer or military personnel for serving their community
- Returning their grocery cart on your way into the store from the parking lot
Start by doing one act of kindness each day and build from there. It doesn’t cost you anything to be kind, but your actions can have a profound effect on someone you don’t even know.
Change How You Impact the Environment
Reduce your impact on the planet by being conscious about how you’re affecting it. Every little bit of effort helps.
Here are some simple ways to reduce your impact on the environment:
- Pick up litter in your neighborhood
- Recycle or upcycle
- Pay attention to what you pour down your drains or use on your lawns
- Drive less by walking, biking or using public transportation
- Take shorter showers
- Use only what you need
- Don’t let the water run when you’re washing dishes or brushing your teeth
- Eat one vegetarian meal a week
- Use green products
- Turn off the lights or the TV when you’re not in a room
What you do today could change what resources are available for future generations.
Be Present & Connect with People
Technology has changed the landscape of our lives forever. Every day, we spend more time online. It’s given us a way to connect to the world, educate ourselves, communicate and be more productive. And while the benefits of technology are amazing, it’s also changed the way we interact with other people and socialize.
When’s the last time you were at a restaurant and saw an entire table of people looking at their phones instead of engaging each other? Or maybe it was even your own dinner table?
We all do it. You’re with your family and friends, but instead of being present, you’re constantly looking at your phone. Or you excuse yourself from the table and check your phone in the bathroom. And while you’re gone, you can bet friends and family are checking theirs. At a minimum, your phone’s right there on the table, just in case.
Mobile technology gives us the illusion we’re connected to other people, but it’s causing us to miss out on the part of life that’s happening right in front of us. We’ve become so obsessed with documenting and posting about our lives that we’re actually missing out on experiencing it.
Put down your phone and instead of taking photos or tweeting about what you’re doing, take a moment to pay attention to the details and enjoy it, because once that moment’s gone, you can’t have it back.
Technology also affects our ability to relax and be productive, because we’re constantly inundated with texts, emails and notifications. Disconnect from social media at least one hour per day and give your mind the opportunity to relax and recharge.
Leave your phone in the car or turn it off when you’re with other people. Pick up the phone during your commute and have a conversation with someone you care about. Get out of the office and have coffee with a colleague to discuss a project or brainstorm a solution rather than emailing them. Walk around the block with your spouse, child or neighbor.
Live your life and make amazing memories with people you love right here, right now. Be present and listen without being distracted, formulating your response or thinking about what you need to do when you get home.
Make an effort to connect with people and engage in a meaningful way. As a result, you’ll build stronger relationships, have a deeper support network and enjoy your life more.
The Take Away
You have the power to change the world. Making daily decisions to be a better person can have a significant impact in ways you may not even imagine. A kind word or a simple act can go a long way in improving people’s lives. It’s easy to do. Now get out there and make a difference!
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