This world? It can be a challenging place.
It is at once a source of inspiration and exasperation, of jubilation and sorrow, of courage and fear.
It is the source of many things from which we derive joy, meaning and fulfillment. And yet it also doles out knocks and blows that can be devastating, causing us to become numb or calloused or closed off inside so much so that we become unaware of (or unable to acknowledge) the pain and suffering outside of ourselves.
As a vessel of birth and destruction, and a temporary pay-as-you-go dwelling that at times feels as warm and comforting as a mother’s womb or as cold and confining as an Alcatraz prison cell, the world as we know it is fraught with reasons to raise a glass in its honor, or curse the gods for their cruel jokes and everything else that falls in between. The whole baffling shebang.
On any given day, I find myself immersed in the world’s steady orbit with its effortless poetry visible at every turn. My attempt to soak it all in leaves me in awe of its mysteries, overwhelmed by its immense superiority over my limited ability to comprehend its inner workings.
Try as I may, I can’t figure out in definitive terms how the world works. All I can do is live in it and hope, in whatever way possible, to make it a better place. Fortunately, this opportunity is available to each of us.
There are countless small and not-so-small ways to make the world a better place. I look to the women and men of the past, of today, who refuse to give up their vision for a better world. And I thank them for not giving up that vision. I can only hope that I am able to, in some way, uphold it.
Will this vision stand up to the rigors of time? Will anything we do matter a hundred years from now? I don’t know. What I do know is that what I do matters here and now. And in this spirit, following are 100+ ways to make the world a better place.
Some are simple. Some are challenging. Each is a testament of humanity being the solution, the balm and the light we so often seek.
USE YOUR VOICE
1 Say thank you, please, I’m sorry and pay compliments.
2 Speak the truth. (Speak tactfully if the truth hurts but nonetheless needs to be spoken.)
3 Speak politely if you disagree.
4 Speak up when something feels or looks wrong (don’t just leave or look the other way).
5 Say what you mean and mean what you say.
6 Be an active participant in things that impact you.
8 Sing (if you love music, if it puts you in a good mood, if you have a nice voice or just because).
9 Write to manufacturers or businesses if you are unhappy about their product or service (or write simply to to express yourself, to process your thoughts, to feel better).
10 Spread the word about good things that move you.
11 Share knowledge and wisdom without being overbearing.
12 Be silent if words don’t seem sufficient, but don’t ever give up your voice.
1 Believe in love.
2 Pay it forward.
3 Be responsive.
4 Trust your intuition.
5 Practice empathy.
6 Choose positivity.
7 Give what you have in excess.
8 Give blood.
9 Make mistakes. Amass a truckload of regrets. Learn from them.
10 Share what you have that can be replenished.
11 Know that you have much to offer.
12 Integrate your worlds — connect your friends or colleagues who might like each other or could help one another.
13 Listen before speaking.
14 Align your heart and mind with your words and actions.
15 Learn from those you admire.
16 Honor your pledge and commitment.
17 Know your rights.
18 Fight for your rights.
19 Do as much as you can to preserve the rights you would like the children in your life to have.
20 Acknowledge your role in humanity’s continuum and decide to be a force for good.
21 Acknowledge your vulnerability and imperfections so that others may find their strength and courage through you.
1 Play. Smile. Laugh. Dance. Love. Read. Do fun things. Spread joy.
2 Hold the good close. Let the not-so-good go.
3 Take risks. Win some. Lose some. Do it again.
4 Be specific when you take the blame for something.
6 Ask for forgiveness.
7 Ask for help when necessary.
8 Offer to help others who may be shy about asking.
9 Be kind to yourself.
10 Acknowledge guilt. Do what you can to make it right but be sure to move on.
11 Know that not all days are created equal. Even on not-so-good days, the universe isn’t out to get you.
12 Know that, though it may feel that way sometimes, you are hardly ever alone. Reach out and you’ll find company.
13 Connect the old-fashioned way. Meet instead of tweet.
14 Make your own list of ways to make the world a better place.
FOR YOUR FAMILY AND COMMUNITY
1 Join the PTA.
2 Plant edible schoolyards.
3 Shop your local farmer’s market.
4 Support independent businesses in your area.
5 Take regular walks in your neighborhood and be friendly.
6 Eat meals together as a family. Invite a neighbor or your child’s friend’s parents or teacher.
7 Broaden your inner circle by including more than just family and close friends.
8 Offer to trade babysitting hours with your children’s friends.
FOR OUR COLLECTIVE HOME
1 Appreciate all that we receive from the earth.
2 Know that we share the earth with others.
3 Compost. Recycle. Reuse. Reduce. Repurpose. Restore.
4 Reduce road rage. Take public transportation. Walk. Carpool. Telecommute.
5 If you must drive, respect pedestrians.
6 Visit Daily Climate or Climate Progress to learn more about climate change.
7 Refuse anything served in disposable plastic: water, milk, juice, etc. Plastic containers will likely end up in one of the five major gyres. Take a reuseable mug/cup instead.
8 Take quick showers.
10 Meditate out in nature to re-connect with the earth.
FOR THE NEXT GENERATION
1 Show how much you love the children in your life with gestures and actions that leave no room for doubt.
2 Teach children about love, kindness and respect.
3 Know that children will learn a lot from you. Good and bad. Focus on the good. Take responsibility for the bad.
4 Stay open to the lessons you can learn from children.
5 Teach children that bullying is wrong.
6 Show children that they are not too young to stand up for themselves, to learn the difference between right and wrong, to do what’s right.
7 Take the children in your life to cultural events.
8 Encourage and support young activists.
THOSE WHO DIFFER FROM YOU
1 Learn about other cultures: visit Foreign Affairs, read the international section of the paper, check out travel books.
2 Make friends with those of a different ethnic background.
3 Visit other countries (at least virtually if money is tight).
4 Reach outside of your comfort zone.
5 Learn a new language. Visit Omniglot to get a jump start.
6 Cultivate compassion.
7 Express kindness.
8 Acknowledge similarities. Accept differences. Find common ground.
VALUE YOURSELF AND YOUR WORD
1 Do the work that you love and makes you come alive.
2 Show up when you say you’ll be somewhere.
3 Treat yourself and others with respect. No name-calling, no gossip.
TIME AND MONEY (VOLUNTEERISM, PHILANTHROPY, CONSUMERISM)
1 Invest time and money in causes and entities that inspire you.
2 Give some of your money away. Be philanthropic.
3 Join boards and put in the hours to improve an organization.
4 Spend quality time with with those who need company.
5 Support small, independent businesses.
1 Create something either by yourself or collaboratively. Make a documentary film, write fiction, take a photograph, paint a picture, sculpt a bust of your baby. See just how easy/challenging it is to do and cultivate an appreciation for the process.
2 Don’t let a snob dissuade you from seeing that super-indie/no-one’s-ever-seen show or film.
3 Visit museums and cultural centers and be enhanced by the richness of these experiences.
4 Support local artists.
5 Recognize that art is a basic need rather than a luxury.
6 Pay good money for art and know that it’s worth it.
1 Don’t shy away from being a role model for someone who admires you.
2 Don’t neglect your health and well being.
3 Don’t simply vent and do nothing. Do something.
4 Don’t overuse defensiveness. No one is as hard on you as you are on yourself.
5 Don’t compare yourself to others.
6 Don’t assume you are better than others if you are religious.
7 Don’t mock others if you have no religion.
8 Don’t conform thoughtlessly.
9 Don’t be apathetic.
10 Don’t drink and drive.
11 Don’t risk making others sick by coming to work when you’re ill.
12 Don’t feed your mind, body and spirit too much junk.
13 Don’t accept the status quo.
14 Don’t play small. The world needs you at your grandest.
What’s first on your list?
What would a better world look like for you?