”Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.” - William James
It seems as though every time I watch the news, I am focused on an onslaught of negativity. Disasters of all kinds flash like fireworks across the TV screen. I’m not saying we should ignore tragedies as though they don’t even exist. Rather, my point is that we make an effort to not allow all of the negativity to influence our inner optimism. There is so much we can do to make the world and ourselves better, more exciting, promising, just fun. But sometimes we’re not even sure where to start. But there is so much you can do. And it might start with something as simple as reading an article.
1. Treat yourself with respect.
Has someone ever told you, ”treat others the same way you treat yourself?” This assumes that you treat yourself with respect. Of course, not everyone treats themselves with respect. Why? Coming from someone who used to belittle myself regularly, it was because I believed I didn’t deserve it. But I was wrong. We all deserve love and respect. After I learned that, I rapidly evolved into a more energized person. If you want to change people’s lives, it’s probably a good idea to change your own life. You deserve it. Believe me.
2. Be polite.
Although you might not notice it, other people actually appreciate you more when you don’t use a swear word in every sentence. They also appreciate it when you hold the door for them rather than slamming it in their face and when you warmly reply to their good morning. No, I’m not presuming you’re a hormonal flushed teenager. Rather, people of every walk of life can forget the timeless gift of politeness. Being polite can transform someone’s day, week, month, and even life itself. Imagine how you may have perked someone a little more by calmly asserting your point rather than snarling at them with an insult. It’s healthy, wholesome, and free. You don’t need to ace every social convention, just show a little care for someone’s well-being by simply caring enough to be a little more courteous to someone’s needs.
3. Argue your point rationally.
I’ve spent countless times arguing over minute matters with people. The arguing eventually escalated and exploded into shouting and belittling, and what did I learn? Nothing. When it was finally over, I felt disgraced and downtrodden with regret. Imagine if we went way back to the beginning. What if I argued my points within reason and rationale rather than giving into my temptation to argue irrationally? It can be tempting to believe that you were deliberately wronged, that you need violence to prove how you’re so much closer to the truth, and how igniting drama is the obvious course of action. But time and time again, simply taking some deep breaths, stepping back, contemplating, and evaluating the problem logically and rationally has helped people prevent innumerable violent arguments and conflicts. Again, you can’t always argue completely within reason. After all, you’re human not an emotionless robot. But something as simple as taking a critical thinking course and maintaining a questioning attitude can maximize the positivity in your relationships.
4. Donate to a charity.
Some of us think we need to be billionaire philanthropists in order to donate to charities. Charities, some say, requires too much money and effort to get involved with. But charities can be highly beneficial for many aspects of your life. Just helping some one’s life by giving a little of who you are can shape your purpose in life and deliver great inner satisfaction. I used to think that donating to charity wasn’t worth it, but some time ago when I donated a few dollars to a Salvation Army kettle, I instantly felt as though I were a part of something great. I couldn’t say what, just that the experience was rejuvenating. So take a minute to donate to a trusted charity and embrace the benefits for not only the people you’re helping but your mind and body.
5. Volunteer somewhere.
Similar to the previous one, some people believe volunteering requires too many time, resources, and effort to contribute to. Do you think volunteering is all work, and no play? I know I used to. Volunteering to me seemed like something bored people with nothing to do would do with their time. But volunteering is enriched with benefits almost anyone can choose from. Volunteering can help you learn interesting new skills which may be useful in the future, meet new people and potential friends, find a hobby to devote to and replace any defunct ones, all while giving back to your community. Not too shabby, eh?
6. Find a passion and connect with similar people.
I’m sure you have felt mind-numbingly bored before. Perhaps you entered the living room, glanced at the computer and a neat pile of books on the coffee table, but couldn’t motivate yourself to even move. You’ve might have thought you’re perpetually trapped in a cycle of repetition and routine. But, once you found something as easily overlooked as a passion or hobby, did you notice how your mood brightened slightly, your life purpose was letter by letter a little more engraved, the humanity you thought you were missing kicked a little, ”see, you are worth something?” I’m sure you have. Finding something to dive into, and like-minded to anchor and support you when times get tough, can alleviate stress and promote harmony for your well-being and theirs too. My passion is writing, so I found the community of blogging. Of course, not all of it is going to be clean and easy, but if you look a little in your community or online, you can usually find it.
7. Become an active listener.
In a world where people want to talk and talk, how many of us are willing to actually willing to listen? I’ve had numerous conversations with people where sometimes they didn’t pay attention, or interrupted, and in succession I did too. Quite a few of us overlook the power of active listening. Active listening can demonstrate how much we care for somebody. It can strengthen relationships, as well as help someone with whatever they need help understanding. This in turn increases the likelihood that they’ll be willing to help another person and so on. Some basic hallmarks include paying attention carefully, not interrupting, summarizing what someone said but not copying word for word, and asking questions to get to the heart of important information. Look it up, and you’ll find loads of resources.
8. Give a hug.
When you’re feeling scared or alone, try giving a hug. Hugging can increase bonds, relieve stress, and just make us feel better at the price of nothing. No, don’t go up to somebody random on the street and hug them. Rather, hug someone close like a family member or friend at the right moment. Offer your child a big, warm hug when they’re crying instead of putting them down. Offer your friend one when they ask for support. Offer your loved one one if they start feeling upset. Hugs aren’t going to cure your problems, but they are a gentle way to alleviate and calm yourself and other people down when times are tough.
9. Adopt a motivating personal philosophy or life purpose.
This one really excites me. I still struggle to an extent with purposelessness. Not sure where I’m going, or where to begin. Eventually though, I think I might have finally discovered my calling: to write things like essays and articles intended to help people. This has given me a little bit more motivation to continue to push through despite when everything else seems hopeless or bleak. What’s something that you have read, watched, or absorbed that really inspired you or caused a want for change in your life? How can you incorporate it into your daily life? For me, it’s the power of writing good stuff. I could add it into my daily life by blogging or writing for a student magazine.
10. Exhibit a positive attitude.
A few days ago, I wrote a quote by called Walt Whitman. It goes like this, ”Keep your face always toward the sunshine – and shadows will fall behind you.” How much does that apply to you? The world isn’t perfect. Let’s all accept that. But you can, to a degree, perfect your perception of life, through positive thinking. Speaking from my experience, positive thinking has made me feel more youthful, energized, healthy, and of course happy. All by changing my thinking. People notice you more when you are positive. They care more, and are more likely to want to help you. There is enough negativity in the world that we must deal with everyday. Spread the love with a little more positivity.
11. Believe in yourself.
Not too long ago, I thought I was a horrible person. I believed with conviction that I was headed for a downward spiral. But with a little push to change my perception of myself, like a recovering ill person, I gradually regained myself back. When I realized that I deserved to be thought of as a good person, I began to be more willing to help people with their own lives. Don’t be afraid to believe in yourself. Your mind is an incredibly powerful machine, and with it, you can go to space or bury yourself underground. Don’t allow anybody, even yourself, to degrade your potential, because it’s all you have. Believe you can do awesome things, and people will have more faith in you. You’ll have more faith in them, and the world will just be a little better.
12. Strive to educate yourself and others.
Believe me, there is enough misinformation being spread on a daily basis. Browse the internet, and you’ll find countless websites claiming to have factual resources. But often, it’s the exact opposite. Turn on the TV, and you’ll notice how the news and certain TV shows tries to encourage you to believe hidden biases which are actually often exaggerated and not logical. That’s why it’s important to master education. Education can help reveal the truth about things you’ve always wanted to know about. And don’t just strive to educate yourself, aim to educate others about what you’ve actually learned. I firmly believe education is one of the most powerful tools there is.
13. Daydream more often.
It’s a common held belief that daydreaming wastes time, is unproductive, and a weakness of character. It’s actually a healthy way to let your thoughts flow, exercise your imagination, and give life to potential new ideas and dreams, future successes and landmarks. When I daydream, I feel exuberant and more at peace with myself. If you want to get to know yourself and ultimately help other people, you need to sit and contemplate the many possibilities in life. For example, there was a time I daydreamed, when walking outside, and I thought of how could I help people. My idea was volunteering. The next time you have some free time, don’t turn use the electronics or start something just yet. Reflect, and allow yourself to think. What do you notice about your thoughts? What ideas do you have, and how can you put them into use?
14. Express yourself through art.
For some of us, art is the perfect escape. It can provide limitless pleasure, and satisfaction. The only limit is how much effort you’re willing to put it in. Another reason to create art is that it will likely live on for generations to come even after you pass. It also an amazing expression of you thought, or simply you. What art do you like? I personally like writing. You don’t even have to be particularly creative, just willing to experiment with new ideas. Art can send messages to people in ways that simply communicating just can’t. Find some type of art which you would enjoy and try it. Learn as much as you can about it, and if you don’t like one, move on to another.
15. Decide more critically and carefully.
Most of us have been impulsive at some point of time. I certainly have. But what if you made a habit, of taking a step back, thinking it through carefully and then deciding? Many bad events which affected many people negatively have been the product of impulsive, not well thought out decisions. The next time you are about to make an important decision, step back, and go slowly and cautiously. Deciding with caution and critical thinking can help you make much better decisions, which in turn can help more people. Ultimately though, the most important person you can help is you.