If you’re anything like me, you have anxiety because you’re constantly faced with all of the horrible, negative, and overwhelming issues that need a savior. And again, if you’re like me and have a savior complex and you want to heal everyone you meet and restore peace to the world, then these problems that are bigger than you end up making you feel powerless and guilty that you’re not doing anything.
Well… I am here to tell you that you’re lying to yourself if you don’t believe you can do anything to make the world a better place. If everyone did even one of these things, then the problem would be solved. Even you don’t believe that anyone else is doing these things so it won’t make a difference, you’re wrong. Plenty of people are and plenty more will after watching you. The real problem is that people do not know HOW to change the world or what role they’re meant to play in that change. Well… here are 25 actions you can take every single day to make that change happen. Again, hate and fear is not overcome with more hate and fear. It is overcome with love.
Notice the Invisible
This is one that really hurts my heart because it is so easy to do, yet so few do it. If you’re unaware, the invisible are the folks in society who are unseen or even looked down upon for various reasons even though I would argue that they are the most important sector of society because they keep it moving forward.
These are your custodians, your security guards, your homeless, your veterans, your refugees, your immigrants, your community members with disabilities, and any other population that doesn’t have a voice. They are overlooked and often even looked down upon.
All you have to do to make this world a better place is notice them. Have conversations with them free of judgement. Get to know them. Whoever they are, they are a human being and connecting with a person that is so used to not being seen is so magical. It is healing for both of you. Pay attention to who is around you, thank them for their service/community involvement, and send them love.
And listen actively. To actively listen all you have to do is
Not interrupt the person who is speaking
Not be thinking of what you’re going to say next before they are done speaking
Think about what they said before you respond
Entertain their ideas without adopting them to really see what they’re saying from their viewpoint
That’s it. That’s all you have to do to make the world a better place. Listen. Everyone wants their ideas to be heard. If you want people to listen to yours you need to listen to theirs. You need to be open minded to their ideas. You do not have to adopt them or agree with them, but you need to consider that they might be right, they probably have valid thoughts and opinions, and that their experiences are worth listening to. This is how you build empathy and empathy is what makes the world a better place.
Take a second to step out of your world and think about what you can do for others to make them feel happy. This can be a small thing. You can compliment them (on something they CAN change like their clothes or a speech they gave, not their eyes), you can write them a thank you card, or you can ask them how they’re doing or how their family is doing in a sincere way (not in a small-talk way).
I keep candy in my office and I printed out stickers of my bitmoji saying random things that I put on the candy and I pass them out randomly or when I feel the office is getting negative. Little things like that really make a huge difference. Imagine if everyone did that.
If you see a person struggling, help. If you notice a person is sad, talk to them. I know this is uncomfortable, talking to strangers is so so so hard for me, too. But this is how you change the world. This is how you convince people that people are good and we don’t need laws that are written based on fear, because we don’t have anything to be afraid of. If you want your community to be a thoughtful place you need to be thoughtful.
Going off of number 3, nobody can tell me that we need to be afraid of immigrants for any reason because there is NO evidence that supports that. None. There IS in fact TONS of evidence that suggests how immigrants are great for the economy, how immigrants commit less crimes than natural-born citizens, and that immigrants want what all American’s want… the American Dream.
I can stand firm on all of my beliefs because I read A LOT. And I educate myself. I read pieces from all viewpoints and then I make my opinion. This makes the world a better place. I can check someone who is making the world a worse place with facts and I can protect those invisible populations I mentioned earlier with my voice because I have the facts to back up my opinions. And this can just be a done a little every day. You can listen to podcasts while you drive to work and get read in the morning or read two articles before you scroll through Facebook. Every little bit can help.
Yes, educating yourself is SUPER important, but as you’re learning remember to focus on the solutions and what others are doing instead of the problem itself. It’s like if you have a leaky sink, you can sit there and stare at it and let it fill you with overwhelm, or you can figure out how to fix it and look up how others are fixing their sinks, and take steps to fixing it. If we all only focus on the problem it is only going to create more problems because it will be attracting more negativity. As Mother Theresa said:
“I was once asked why I don't participate in anti-war demonstrations. I said that I will never do that, but as soon as you have a pro-peace rally, I'll be there.”
Shift from being anti-hate to pro-love and you will make the world a much better place. Whatever we put our focus on grows. If we focus on money, our wealth will grow. If we focus on our families, our relationships will grow. If we focus on love, love will grow.
Stop buying stuff
This is the one time that I will say you can change the world by doing nothing. Until you’re a smart consumer or until you have the resources to buy ethically, stop buying things. I don’t buy clothes because they’re made is sweatshops and I can’t afford to buy ethically-made clothes. I don’t eat fast food because it produces so much waste and uses so much water and is not healthy so what’s the point? I try to only buy what I need and even then I try to buy what I can as ethically as possible. Is ALL of my food organic? No, organic has it’s problems anyways. Do I only produce enough waste to fit in a mason jar like these people on documentaries? No, I can’t afford to grow all of my own food in the Arizona desert or buy all of my food from Whole Foods.
I am not asking you to feel guilty about what you can’t do, but most likely there are plenty of things you are buying that you don’t need to, like paper towels, toilet paper with the cardboard insert, buy tiny little things on amazon that use soooooo much packaging (I am super guilty of this). Do what you can.
Stop wasting stuff
Again, do what you can. Compost your left overs (I recommend using worms and wrote a post on how), recycle what you have to buy, reuse what you can (I paint my food containers and use them as pots for my plants), turn off the lights when you leave a room, don’t have a lawn unless it grows naturally, plant native plants as your landscaping decor, donate what you no longer use instead of throwing it out, fix broken stuff instead of buying new, etc. There are so many things you can do to stop waste.
One American has the same ecological footprint as THIRTY-THREE Kenyans. We can do better!
Get to know your neighbors
Again, getting to know strangers is so scary for me like FOR REAL… but change starts within your community and for that you need to actually have a community. HOW you do this really depends on your community, but walking my dogs helps me at least be able to say hi to others on walks. I might research the art of this more and write another post on it.
Plant a garden
Preferably in your front yard. AND if you’ve been composting like I said, you can do this super easy! There is so much research supporting the effectiveness of social norms. If your neighbors see you planting a garden, they’ll plant one too. The BEST part about growing your own food is that is has a NEGATIVE ecological footprint (so it will breathe in carbon dioxide and breathe out oxygen), you’ll know EXACTLY where it came from and what chemicals were used to grow it, it’s FREE to eat, and you’ll get like a million seeds to keep planting more of them! I literally just google everything “how to grow a tomato plant from a seed I saved” or whatever and you’ll get all the info you need!
Join a cause
ANY cause. I don’t care what it is. Problems are persisting because of apathy, not because of scale. We can solve anything. We can DO anything. But you have to actually start doing something. It doesn’t matter how rich or poor you are, you can always offer your time. Time is actually the most valuable thing you can offer. You can volunteer and change a child’s life, a victim’s life, an animal’s life, really any life. And if you help even one, you’ve made the world a better place.
PLUS studies also show that volunteering is a better method for reducing depression and anxiety than medication. DON’T go off your medication, but volunteering, I’ve realized, is the missing ingredient that helps make all of us feel whole and like we’re apart of something. It makes us feel like we belong.
In order to send good vibes, you need to have good vibes. Repeat after me in the mirror “You’re worthy. You’re intelligent. You’re beautiful. You’re capable of accomplishing anything you set your mind to. People love you. People need you. You are a gift”. Every day. Repeat it until you believe it.
Focus on Joy
This is different than manifesting positivity. Joy is that childlike sense of wonder. It’s ecstasy. It’s feeling good and happy. I think society focuses so much on “being happy” like it’s a place we can fly to. Instead of focusing on happiness as the opposite of suffering, focus on joy. How can you put more joy into your life? How can you put more joy into your family’s life? How can you bring joy to everyone you meet? Maybe you have a great sense of humor, maybe you know how to make any activity fun, or maybe you’ll have to think long and hard about the role joy plays in your life. Unless joy is playing the largest role in your life, you should try to improve that. A good starting place is to read the Book of Joy.
Give blood. Be an organ donor. Be a charitable donor if you can. If you can’t, give your time. Give your love. Give your attention. Give whatever resources you have to those that need it.
Be empathic, not sympathetic
Empathy is recognizing the suffering in someone else. Sympathy is feeling the suffering of someone else. If you’re arm is broken, and I break my arm to make you feel better, I’ve simply made the problem much worse. But that doesn’t mean I have to discredit your pain because I don’t feel it myself. The thing about suffering is… it’s about the sufferer. If you hurt someone, you don’t get to decide that you didn’t. If you can heal someone, heal them, even if it’s just by listening to their story and acknowledging their pain. This doesn’t mean that as an empath I don’t cry when I watch news of Syria or immigrants or refugees. I do. It means that I’m not going to see their pain and feel powerless. I’m not going to feel this devastation and let it debilitate me. I am going to do whatever I can to ease the suffering, and I am not going to feel anxiety about the suffering I can’t end. It is a proactive mindset.
15. Stop microaggressions
Whether its you causing them, or you overhear them, stop. Be politically correct. If you ignorantly say something that is not politically correct and someone rightfully corrects you, apologize.
“Microaggressions are the everyday verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs, or insults, whether intentional or unintentional, which communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based solely upon their marginalized group membership.”
You can read plenty of examples of microaggressions here . Long story short, don’t stereotype. Don’t do or say something to someone solely based on their race, gender, abilities, etc. Most importantly, if you’re checked for doing/saying one, apologize.