The world is a frightening place. You take a look at the news and it seems like everything is always getting worse. What can one person do? There are ten relatively simple ways to make the world around you a better place. They may not seem like much, but by taking a look inward, changing your perspective, and putting out positive energy, you can change the world.
#1. Commit to learning
The very first step to any sort of personal change is a willingness to learn. Whether it’s keeping up with issues like poverty, war, and human rights, or making a goal to read 20 books in a year, learning is what allows us to grow. Keep an open mind to opinions and voices different than yours, but also learn to filter out stuff that isn’t accurate or well-meaning. The internet lets everyone have their say, but not everyone is putting out the truth.
#2. Treat others how you want to be treated
How you see the people around has a huge impact on the world. It’s easy to get stuck in a bubble and harbor unfair thoughts about strangers. Whenever you interact with people, remember the Golden Rule: treat them how you want be treated. That doesn’t mean giving people who are unkind a free pass, and standing by quietly if you see someone being mistreated, but do think about how you should respond first.
#3. Spend less time online and more time with people
The internet can be a great place for connecting with people, but studies have also shown it can increase feelings of isolation and depression. The internet is not a substitute for real contact with other humans. Commit to spending time with friends and family for conversation, meals, and activities. When you see an opportunity to talk to someone you don’t know, take it. Being available and accessible in a real way strengthens community and makes a better world for everyone.
#4. Practice gratitude
The secret to true happiness is gratitude. Even in hard times, there are things to be grateful for, and by redirecting your thoughts towards the good, you can reduce stress. That doesn’t mean ignoring your negative emotions entirely, or trying to “fake” it, but remembering what you do have going for you keeps you from sinking into depression or fear. When your perspective is centered on positive things, it’s contagious, and encourages people around you.
#5. Volunteer to causes you care about
If you care about an issue and want to do something, donate your time and money to supporting it. Consistency is the best way to keep giving back and make a change in the world, so work in a volunteer time to your schedule, and commit to giving a certain amount of money each year to your favorite organizations and charities. You will feel less powerless, and you can feel good about making an impact on causes that need support.
#6. Put your money where your values are
Giving to charity isn’t the only way for your money to make a positive difference. Think about the brands you buy and if the companies are actively contributing to good in the world, or to the bad. Find out if the companies you buy from have strong human rights records and/or are committed to donating profits to good causes. You can be a part of a community that’s making a difference.
#7. Donate instead of throwing out
When you’re going through your belongings and clearing stuff out, set aside anything in good condition and donate them. There are countless orgs committed to getting clothes, toys, electronics, and more to people who can’t afford full-priced, new items. By donating, you are also helping to reduce waste, so it’s a good way to help people and the environment.
#8. Treat the environment well
Speaking of the environment, climate change is a huge driver of bad things in the world, from floods to famine and more. It can be overwhelming and disheartening to think that one person can’t really do much. However, if all those individuals did their part, it adds up. Be conscious of your energy and water usage, and reduce your plastic waste by buying stuff that’s biodegradable or can be recycled.
#9. Get involved in politics
In many countries, you can exercise your power through voting, supporting certain legislation, and so on. If you can, do get involved. Voting is the least you can do, and if you want to do more, contact politicians about issues you care about, volunteer your time on campaigns, and stay updated on the latest developments. Politics can get messy, but the only way it can get sorted out is if good people step up.
#10. Work with children
We won’t be around forever, so what kind of legacy are we leaving the next generation? If you care deeply about the future, consider working with children in some way. This might mean volunteering your time, tutoring, mentoring, and/or donating money to children-specific causes. Children are like sponges in a lot of ways, and soak up the energy that’s around them. Make an impact by being a positive role model.