Do you ever get frustrated that the world seems to be on a downward spiral? It’s easy to feel helpless in the face of war, environmental damage and inequality. But there's a way you can take back your sense of control and power and, as the saying goes, be the change you wish to see in the world.
1. Be grateful.
Not just for the things you have in your world, but for the people too. Tell them how much you love and appreciate them.
2. Show it when you're thankful.
Had a great service in a restaurant? Did someone say something kind to you just at the very moment you needed a lift? Thank them. Why not give those around you (yes, even those you don’t know very well) the gift of a positive comment?
3. Be joyful.
It can seem like there's so much negativity in the world: news programs that only show disasters, corruption and arguing politicians, illness, relationship breakdowns, layoffs, conflict. Many of us can get into a funk or worse when we see all the conflict and drama. So provide a counterbalance for those around you, and become a role model for joyful living. This doesn’t mean being a Pollyanna, ignoring pain or laughing at misery. Nor does it mean pretending to be happy when that’s not how you feel inside. But it does mean not being afraid to share your joy. Look at the Dalai Lama — exiled from his country, witness to so much horror and cruelty in his lifetime, yet smiling and joyful.
4. Be kind.
I don’t know why, but kindness seems to be out of fashion in lots of circles, replaced by tough love and blaming people for their misfortunes. It would seem the milk of human kindness is in short supply, according to many newspapers and reality TV shows I see. But I refuse to believe it to be true. Reach out when you see someone fall. Give the kind word. Help with the groceries. Compliment people. Be compassionate. Just be a bit nicer. Don’t let the world grind you down and harden you. Put out what you’d like to get back.
5. Beware of judgment.
We all judge. We all look down on people. Every. Single. One. Of. Us. Don’t beat yourself up for it — just be aware and make sure you don’t act on it. Make sure you challenge yourself when you do. And make sure you’re aware of WHY you judge. When we judge, we dehumanize and reduce someone down to her actions. We do it to make ourselves feel better. Instead of judging, try a bit of empathy. It works wonders.
6. Let go of the need to be right.
How many times have you found yourself in an argument and forgotten what you were arguing about? Ask yourself if it’s really worth it. Where can you find some common ground? Would you rather be right than be happy?
7. Accept things for what they are.
Fighting the things that can’t be change is the surest route to unhappiness. Instead, accept and make the best of your situation, even as you try to make changes.
8. Practice self-compassion.
Being good to yourself will help you to be a kinder, more compassionate person all around. You can’t give to others what you don’t give to yourself.
9. Don’t take your sh*t out on other people.
We all have bad days. We get stressed out. It doesn’t help anyone if you're snapping, snarling and generally discharging to everyone around you. If you need to blow, take yourself off somewhere quiet and deal with it. Don’t be the cause of someone else’s bad day.
10. Connect with your sense purpose.
When you live and work to your values and purpose, you build joy, resilience and passion. You discover strengths you never knew you had and become a beacon of possibly to others.
11. Look for the good in the world.
It’s all around you. Smile. That’s infectious.