9 Ways to Change the World Today

Washing your hands. Hugging. Turning down a shopping bag. Listening. Small things make big differences.

Credit Sai De Silva
Credit Sai De Silva

The world can be changed by small acts of kindness. Seemingly little acts have a ripple effect and those small acts, compounded over time, can have a massive impact. And when children see you committing daily acts of kindness, taking care of yourself and being kind to others, you teach by example.

Here are 9 ways to change the world today.

  1. Turn down a shopping bag. By one estimate, 100 billion (yes, that is billion with a B) plastic bags pass through American’s hands each day. So when the cashier asks “would you like a bag?” say no.
  2. Ask a stranger a question. Forge a connection. “How are you doing today?” “What’s your dog’s name?” “Do you think it’s going to rain?” Ask a question and offer a smile. Really, it’s that simple.
  3. Say I’m sorry – and mean it. This morning I watched a young woman approach the deli counter where I was awaiting my breakfast. She had a bag in her hand. “I’m sorry,” she began, “I had ordered a croissant as well.” She apologized three more times before she was handed the missing pastry. We have so overused “I’m sorry” that it has lost its meaning. Stop apologizing when you shouldn’t and start apologizing when you should.
  4. Eat an apple. Preferably one locally grown. Apples are the most ubiquitous American grown fruit. They boast important antioxidants, flavonoids, and fiber and there is some evidence that apples may help reduce the risk of certain types of cancer as well as diabetes and heart disease.
  5. Say no and say yes. This weekend I received an email asking me to contribute to a bake sale on Monday. I politely declined. But. When you can help, help. Give back. Give a little more.
  6. Wash your hands. As we barrel into cold and flu season, washing your hands becomes even more important to keep yourself and your family healthy. Wash them several times a day, with soap. Don’t forget the backs of your hands, your nails — you know — wash your entire hand. Both of them.
  7. Tell someone what they mean to you. And mean it. We rush through life, taking for granted that we will always have tomorrow to tell the ones we love how important they are to us. But we don’t always get tomorrow, so take a minute and tell them today.
  8. Listen. Really listen when people talk to you. Don’t formulate your response while you listen, don’t interrupt, don’t bounce up and down waiting for your turn … just listen. Because really listening is the best way to forge a meaningful connection and because sometimes, people just need to be heard.
  9. Hug two people. Hugging has been proven to make us happier and healthier by reducing stress, lowering blood pressure and releasing oxytocin, one of the so-called happiness hormones. It will make the hugger and the hugee happier. Oh, and yup, hugging a dog counts too.
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