What will you do today, to make the world a more beautiful place?
As author and illustrator Barbara Cooney prompts us to consider in her famous children’s book, Miss Rumphius, we see powerful results when we ask ourselves this question.
The character “Miss Rumphius” spreads lupine flower seeds all along the coast of Maine, producing beautiful blue, pink, and purple blooms that create a magical and breath-taking view for everyone who sees them.
However, before she sets out to improve the world around her, Miss Rumphius takes care of herself — traveling around the world to experience other people and places, fulfilling a personal dream.
I think there is an important lesson to be learned here.
Making the world a “more beautiful place” starts with creating happiness inside of ourselves, and then spreading that happiness outward.
Additionally, I believe that the word “beauty” used in this philosophical question is meant be applied in a broader sense than pure aesthetics.
Beauty in this question is meant to describe something that is meaningful, profound, positive, emotionally riveting, and transformative. In other words, an action that benefits the world around us.
With that in mind, “making the world more beautiful” starts with transforming, enriching, and beautifying our own minds and hearts; and from there, can encompass a wide range of altruistic acts.
It can mean taking an action that lasts a few seconds, or it can mean making a commitment that lasts a lifetime.
I like to consider this question on a regular basis, and it inspires me in all that I do.
How do I make the world a more beautiful place?
First and foremost by nurturing myself so that I can be grounded, confident, and content. This requires continual intentionality. I have created a happy and healthy lifestyle for myself, which makes it that much easier for me to naturally share my happiness with the world.
I’m inspired to pick up trash around my neighborhood. I’m inspired to slow down while driving and let someone merge or make a turn ahead of me. I’m inspired to volunteer at my church on Sundays, and to donate money to rainforest conservation efforts. I’m inspired to cook a nourishing meal for my family.
Maybe the beauty you offer the world today comes in the form of admitting to yourself and others that you have an addiction, and that you need help to get better. Maybe it comes in the form of giving someone a compliment as you pass by them on the sidewalk. Perhaps it’s through tutoring a child for an hour, or sending a loved one flowers.
From taking care of myself and my family, to volunteering, to my job, when I contemplate the end game — making the world more beautiful — I feel inspired to do good, and that makes all the difference in how I live out my days here on earth.
One last thing…
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Originally published at medium.com