I love to write inspiration, and I do it for myself as much as for others. Thinking positively and optimistically just makes for a happier existence. So it was easy for me to adopt a Bible verse from Hebrews 10:24, “Let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds,” as my mission in life, and as the focus of my next book. Although that is a Christian directive to help make this world a better place, I certainly don’t believe that you must be Christian to make that happen. I do, however, believe that love must be a factor of any positive change that we hope to accomplish.
It seems to me we are “wired” to love and care for our fellowman. If that were not the case, it wouldn’t feel so good when we perform random acts of kindness, anonymously do something special for another person, or seize the moment to just do something good. While it’s easy to let negative things affect us, because that will always dominate the media, if the majority of us were not doing the right things, this world would be intolerable. But, still, I think we can do more because love without action is meaningless, and impossible.
It doesn’t take vast amounts of money, time or effort to make a positive difference for ourselves and for others. All it takes is the desire to see the opportunities we have, and those opportunities come many times each day. For instance, a smile to a stranger costs nothing. Using the name of the checkout person at the store and saying something nice, such as “you have such a lovely smile, Ashley” couldn’t be easier. Letting someone with fewer items go ahead of you in line costs you only a couple of minutes. Starting a simple conversation while in a doctor’s waiting room is a great way to pass the time and maybe enrich your life as well as someone else’s. Returning a found item in a store takes nothing from you, but it could well delight the person who lost it.
Thinking of others with kindness is the clue, and once you do that, your ability to make this world a better place is endless. You can buy inexpensive umbrellas in the dollar store and keep them in your car to give out to those who are caught in a sudden down pour. You can pick up extra goodies at the grocery store for the local food pantry serving the needy, or share with friends and neighbors. You can donate your used magazines to free clinics. You can recycle more goods than you throw away. You can buy fast food certificates or bus passes to give to those who ask you for alms. You can write a letter of appreciation to friends and family just to let them know how much they mean to you. You can mow your neighbor’s grass or throw their newspaper closer to their front door. When going to the grocery store, you can offer to pick up something for someone who is a shut-in. You can spend a little time visiting with a resident in a nursing home or someone who lives alone. You can donate your time, money, or goods to a number of great causes, including this organization. You can share a cold glass of water with those who are working outside. You can reach out to those who are different from you in race, culture, religion, disability, economic social status, or sexual orientation. Just an acknowledgment with a smile or simple conversation shows kindness as well as acceptance that we are more alike than different. You don’t have to believe the same or be the same to spread good will in the world, and the best of all is that it’s often contagious.
So what stops us from treating others as we wish to be treated? I think that judgment may be our biggest obstacle. We become so focused on our differences that we forget how much we are alike. Unfortunately, since we only see the world through our own eyes, our tunnel vision perceptions can sometimes drive our actions and thoughts inappropriately. That means we must be aware of the negatives that can influence us and cause us to stereotype and form prejudices. And, that can include what entertains and surrounds us.
I personally refuse to lose my sense of humor about the world, but I avoid reality shows that feature people at their worst behavior, songs that incite violence, and jokes and emails that cruelly poke fun of others who are different. I know that if we aren’t aware, such negative influences can cause us to judge our fellowman unfairly and skew how we see the world in general. Some people may not want to avoid the things I do, but it’s still important to make sure they aren’t an influence. Instead of things that may impede our judgment, I think our first step is to come out of our comfort zones and try to dispel whatever keeps us from seeing our common humanity.
I can’t think of a single instance when hate and apathy made the world better, but I know our love and kindness toward one another can. So I will continue to follow my mission, and hope that readers of this blog may choose to also, to seize our daily opportunities to make this world a better place for our fellowman, even if it only begins with a smile.