Call me an optimist. I’ll accept the title wholeheartedly.
And no, that doesn’t mean I’m disconnected from reality. Our world is overflowing with contradictions, failure and aggravation. Not all roads merge, and some people don’t care about things that others would give their life for. We live as a blink in a larger view, and with the devastation we’ve faced lately, sometimes it’s easy to feel that we can make no impact at all.
Shift your gaze with me now. Forget your doubts and worries, and really think about how the world could be. A place where all people, no matter their color, religion, sexuality or mindset, could be at peace. A place where in the midst of tragedy, we can hurt together, instead of hurting each other. A place where a hug is given before a finger of blame, or shame for not being exactly the same. A place where we fight to understand before we fight to defeat. We may never be perfect, but I believe the fate of this world has a lot more to do with our perspective than we think. If we believe the world can be better, we can begin to make it so. This shift to optimism is just the first step however, because it takes ACTION to make a difference. So let’s stop pointing, generalizing and standing still. There are seven days in a week, and none of them are someday.
“We rise by lifting others”
1. Speak kindly
We are all built with our own thoughts, beliefs and feelings. I am so grateful to live in a country where we have the ability to express those freely. However, when we push these thoughts on others in a harmful way, not only do we disrespect the people around us, but we discredit their same power to have feelings.
Stand up for what you believe in, speak from your heart. Live life with conviction. But pushing others down will never be a way to get build yourself up. Be adherent to those around you, because everyone has a voice, but we all speak at a different volume.
Whatever you put out there has an impact, even if you don’t see it firsthand. Make it a goal to speak more positive words in a day than negative. Take a second to notice the life around you, and speak up when you notice something about someone you admire. A kind word can heal wounds you may never see.
2. Always be prepared
It’s really easy to live day-to-day selfishly. We all have our own agendas and obligations to adhere to, and the to do lists can seem endless. Sometimes it’s hard enough to keep ourselves on top of things, much less help someone else. Without pushing aside our own needs, we can always be prepared to help others.
Shelter. Food. Clothing. These are every human’s basic needs. Admittedly, I don’t have the extra cash flow to provide financial support most of the time, but I can always be ready to provide 1 of these 3 needs. Packing extra snacks and food in my purse has become a habit, so that I can always be prepared to help. Of course it isn’t much, but what is small to you may make a big impact on another.
Don’t let the devastation around you be overwhelming. Of what you can spare, prepare and provide it willingly. Look for small opportunities to help an elderly man make it up the stairs, or even just take the time to say bless you when someone sneezes. You’ll find you have a lot more ability to give than you thought.
3. Live on the high road
This has been one of the best pieces of advice I have grown up with. Although seemingly always the less appealing option, taking the high road not only alleviates the situation, but it also helps those involved find clarity.
When there is an altercation, often times things get worked up to a point where neither side is willing to bend. Pride is the main symptom, and there is no winning where it prevails. When one person steps up to the high road however, things begin to change.
Everyone involved then gets a chance to look at the bigger picture. The muddy waters settle and clarity can then be found. Through making that first move to step back, you open the door to finding a solution that otherwise you may not have been able to see.
My challenge to you is to look outside yourself when you come into conflict. Assess the bigger picture, and always dwell beyond the borders of a single interaction. Be slow to anger or assumption, and see just how clear the waters can be.
It has been extremely difficult for me to realize how bad of a listener I can be. Of course as a civil human being, we know that it is polite to not interrupt when another is speaking. However, truly listening to someone is a lot more complex. It’s not just hearing the words being said and waiting for your turn to contribute. It’s actually absorbing the meaning of the words, and understanding the heart they come from.
One of the most fascinating things I have learned by listening is that no one thinks they are the bad guy. Everyone is the main character of their own story, with a background of influences and experiences that we may never be aware of. When we don’t step out of who we are to understand another, we only relate what is being said to where we came from. This prevents our ability to truly find connection, and further can create a wedge between you and others. Everyone’s thoughts are equally important, and giving people an opportunity to be comfortable being themselves is invaluable.
5. Be happy
There is no greater gift you can give to the world than yourself. True happiness is not without fault, but taking steps every day to love yourself provides the best of awards. Nourish yourself by investing in your emotions, follow what drives you and push away things that tear you down. Fight to be comfortable in your own skin and where you are in your life. Strive to be the best version of yourself you can be today, and just watch where you go.
When my heart is at peace, I find that I do all of the things listed above to my best ability. I am kinder, better prepared, understanding and perceptive of others around me. When I am happy, I am my best self. But it doesn’t stop there. Happiness shines out of a person when they walk into a room, and lifts the spirits of those who are lost. So don’t just dwell in it, go out and share it! Be the antidote to the storms that are seen and unseen around you.
You are exactly where you are with the gifts you have been given for a reason. You have the power to become the solution. And when you do, you discover that making this world a better place lies just at the edge of your finger tips.
“And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.”