About 5 years ago, I first wrote a post about how we can all make the world a better place through our actions TODAY. This post has been among my most popular of all-time in terms of receiving comments and being shared. This blog is a revised and updated version of that post.

Many of you have heard the story of the person who wanted to change the world. It could be about any one of us. This person sought out to change the world, but she realized that it was just too big of an undertaking. So she decided instead to change her own country. Still, this quest was too massive, so she decided instead to change her city. Once again, the task proved too big, so the woman decided that she would focus on changing her own neighborhood. She still found it difficult to make a lasting impact, so she decided to focus on changing her family. She found it hard to change her husband and children so she finally decided to just change herself. She developed new habits and took new actions that served to add value to the people closest to her. Through changing herself, she was able to effect change within her family. In turn, her family was able to effect change in the neighborhood. As conditions in the neighborhood improved, the entire city began to change. Positive changes in the city spread throughout the country, and ultimately into the rest of the world. So, by changing herself FIRST, the woman was able to have a powerful impact on the whole world!

I’ve told some version of this story for many years, and the more I talked about it, the more I developed a strong conviction that my own actions could someday have a far-reaching impact on many others, maybe even the whole world. I began to view the world as this gigantic banquet with treats and riches and values to go around for everyone, and no limit to how bounteous the banquet could become. If I added my gifts to the banquet every day, it would be a little bit bigger for everyone. And if more people like me could add their gifts, there would, in turn, be so much more to go around for everyone.

Imagine you’re attending a large potluck, maybe a block party or some sort of neighborhood gathering. If one or even a few guests come empty-handed to a potluck, it might not get noticed and everyone should still have plenty to eat and drink. But if more people show up empty-handed, the pleasure of the experience for everyone in attendance starts getting diminished. On the other hand, if every single person brings their best dish to the banquet, the overall value of the event is increased, and everyone in attendance will get a greater share of the enjoyment of the event.

The world is sort of like a giant potluck. If we all bring our best to the party, we enhance the life experience for everyone we come in contact with. If we choose not to add value to the world, we diminish the life experience for everyone, and everyone else who acts in the same selfish manner diminishes our own life experience. The Circle of Life comes back to us, either positively or negatively.

This begs the question, “What can I do to make the world a better place?” It’s easy, and it starts with learning the lesson the woman from the opening story learned. Find ways to add value around you. Start by continually developing yourself so that you have more value to give to others around you. Strive to become the kind of person that others want to be around, that others want to listen to, and that others want to emulate. The first impact will probably be felt in your own family, and then you can impact others on a larger scale. Just take small actions every day, and as more and more people follow your lead, the total impact can become monumental.

Here’s a simple list of 25 things you can do TODAY to make the world a better place by making the life experience better and more positive for the people around you:

  1. Say please and thank you more often. Actually mean it.

  2. Smile at strangers.

  3. Pick up that scrap of litter you see while you’re hiking. Put it in your pocket.

  4. Give a little extra when you tip.

  5. Learn people’s names and use them more often.

  6. Hold the door open for the person coming behind you.

  7. If you are entering a place where people line up to order, you can return the favor by letting the person who held the door open for you get in line in front of you. This simple exchange of pleasantries will make both people feel good all day long.

  8. Wipe the drops of coffee off the counter/bar at Starbucks. Develop a habit of keeping the environment clean for everyone who comes after you.

  9. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Say “no problem” a lot more often.

  10. If you can’t change something, don’t complain about it.

  11. Move one lane to the right if there’s plenty of room there. If someone’s in a hurry, let them pass safely.

  12. Become a better listener.

  13. When you borrow something from a friend, treat it with respect and return it on time, as you got it, or better than you got it.

  14. Don’t talk loudly on your cell phone in public. The microphone is 2 inches from your mouth, not 20 feet. Respectfully preserve the atmosphere for the people around you. If you’re in a quiet place, go outside.

  15. If a public restroom is out of hand towels, let someone know who can remedy that.

  16. Allow negative gossip to end with you.

  17. Leave your ego out of debates and arguments. What’s right is more important than who’s right.

  18. When you see the white reverse lights of another car in a parking lot, stop and allow them to back out safely instead of zooming past.

  19. Always remember that there are 2 sides to every story. Be sure you hear and understand the other side before you rush to judgment.

  20. Give more compliments.

  21. Never assume bad intentions. Most of the time, when someone does something wrong, it was just a mistake.

  22. Merging in traffic works like a zipper … one from each side.

  23. Stand 3 steps back from the baggage carousel. More people will be able to see, and those claiming their bags will have more room to do so.

  24. Every day, find or create an opportunity to do something nice for another person without expecting anything in return.

  25. Think about what’s best for the collective good, not just what’s best for you. Remember that when value is added, you will get your piece of a bigger pie.

#25 summarizes the essence of why adding value to the world is actually positive for all of us. We are making the potluck bigger and more bounteous. As more and more people follow this lead, life for ALL of us becomes better and offers more rewards. In time, the mere act of doing a service for someone else will provide you with more value in terms of the personal satisfaction you will internalize than the time or energy it took you to perform the act of service. You will become happier, healthier, and more fulfilled through the value you add to others. The Circle of Life will come back around to provide you with rewards and riches and values beyond anything you might dream of today.

Always remember this:

The world around you is a reflection of you.

Start adding value, and it will come back to you many times over. Oh, and remember this as well … greet each new day with gratitude. Somewhere, someone didn’t wake up this morning. “Uncommon” courtesy adds more value to the world. Gratitude opens the doors for more to be poured in.

One person at a time, we CAN change the world.

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