We'd all like to live in a kinder, cleaner, less stress-filled world, right? Well, Ghandi was onto something when he said we each need to be the change we want to see in the world.
With that in mind, here are 15 super-doable, non-intimidating, tiny things we can all do (today!) to make the world slightly better.
1. When someone's good at their job, praise them to their supervisor.
It takes five minutes and it'll make three days better — yours, the employee, and the supervisor. Win-win-win!
2. Post a thank-you note on an event's Facebook page.
If someone took the time to get out of their yoga pants, clean the bathroom, and cook something for you, they totally deserve a thank you. Let's take a moment between changing our profile photos and stalking exes to write something kind on that Facebook page.
3. Return shopping carts to the corral.
Last year, my car incurred a $200 scratch thanks to a windy day and one errant shopping cart. And isn't it insanely annoying when you turn into what looks like an empty parking spot, only be confronted with one very smug and misplaced shopping cart?
4. If you see some (not totally disgusting) trash, pick it up.
I'm not suggesting you peel hamburger wrappers off the street, but if you see an empty plastic bag blowing around or a cleanish plastic bottle — pick it up and deal with it accordingly.
5. Let people merge and courtesy wave.
Let's merge like a zipper — taking turns and letting people in. And if someone lets you in after you've been waiting for ages? Courtesy wave.
6. Make eye contact with and smile at your barista, cashier, parking ramp attendant or wait staff.
We've probably all worked in the service industry at some point, and it's a million times more enjoyable when customers take the time to say hello and interact.
7. Report things that break in your apartment building.
Are you guilty of doing that thing where you assume someone else has said something? Ninety percent of the time when I call my building manager to tell him that the washing machine's been unbalanced for a week, it's the first he's heard of it.
8. Report potholes, abandoned cars, etc. to the city.
The same as above. We all assume someone else is going to do it, but let's make a pact to be the person who really, actually does something. Most cities have a super easy form on their website for reporting things like this.
9. Move to the right when driving slowly.
So many fewer middle fingers!
10. Offer directions to people who look lost.
If someone is wrinkling their brow, looking down at their phone, and then up at the street sign, why not see if you can help?
11. Be nice to people who are older than you.
Sometimes I have to take deep, calming breaths when I'm in the express line behind someone who's sorting through coupons and paying with a check. But everyone deserves and appreciates kindness and patience. (I repeat to myself, regularly.)
12. Bring an extra bobby pin, tampon, condom, hair binder, safety pin.
You will be the captain of Team Lady if you do this. I cannot count the times my mood has depended on the desire to just get my hair off my neck! You will have a friend for life if you help a fellow lady out of a I-just-want-my-hair-up predicament.
13. Put your phone on silent, in your bag when you're hanging out with someone.
Don't you appreciate it when the person you're spending time with seems to want to spend time with you?
14. Overtip when the service is amazing.
People in the service industry work hard for their money. Can you imagine having to be polite strangers all day?! When someone has been particularly helpful or accommodating, let your tip reflect that.
15. Realize that everyone is doing the best they can with what they've got at that moment.
If they knew better, they'd do better. It's so, so easy to get annoyed, disappointed, straight-up pissed off by humanity at large. OMG WHY ARE YOU DRIVING 40 IN THE FAST LANE? Do you think the "10 item limit" doesn't apply to you? Why are you not holding the elevator, ya dick?
But, ultimately, you never know. Maybe they lost their glasses and can't read the elevator buttons. Maybe they just got dumped and they're cry-driving. Maybe they're about to pitch a huge client and they're too deep in thought to realize they stepped into the express lane. Most of us are doing our best — in whatever shape that takes.
What tiny things do you do to make the world an ever-so-slightly kinder, better place?