I love it when I find inspiring quotes in unexpected places. One of my favorites, “Understand the power of a single action,” came on the back of my REM Green Tour (1989) t-shirt. Not a monumental earth shattering history defining action by Tom Cruise hopping on a couch on the Oprah Show. Just a single action by any person brave enough to step up make a positive dent in life.
Let’s face it. While we all can point to some fun highlights these past years for our holiday cards things have not been so hot in the world. People are still hurting each other in many evil ways. Often times in the name of God or religion. The economies of the world are in the dumps and politicians argue over pork projects while one in ten of us just want a good job to keep families warm and fed. I can go on and on but let’s just say we all deserve better.
The fact is nobody is going to solve these issues for us and sadly there are things beyond our immediate ability to directly impact. My former business partner, Eric Ross, and I coined a phrase “Control the things you can control and manage the things you cannot control.” While individually we cannot solve world hunger or secure world peace, we can do little positive actions day to day that will amplify and snowball causing ripples and eventually waves of happiness.
“Understand the power of a single action.” Here are 12 for all of us to work into our daily flow this year and beyond.
Smiling is not difficult yet we rarely look someone in the eye and treat them to an upside down frown. Smiles are like yawns. They are infectious. Walk around with a smile during the day and just give a happy hello to people you see or speak to. It is not as weird as it sounds and trust me, it will spread happiness to many others quickly.
Sadly, listening is a lost art. Everyone wants to be heard but nobody wants to listen. I cannot bear to watch another news show with political “thought leaders” stomping on each others words. Even if you have something brilliant to say or disagree with another person’s opinion, work to let them finish their thoughts, acknowledge what they said, and then offer your thoughts. If we all listened more the world would be a better place.
3. Lend a hand
How often do we stand in line or go about our business when someone is in obvious need of a helping hand and just watch. I always made it a point to help the traveling mom loaded down with kids and gear through a busy airport when I was traveling for work. Be the person to show people how easy it is and make someone’s day by offering an unsolicited helping hand.
4. Wave someone in
We all know “that guy” who ignores the rules of merging and just has to speed up to keep that extra car length (and oh, it makes such a difference in his travel time). Don’t be that guy. Take the time to wave someone in and give them another wave once they are safely in the lane. It will turn someone’s commute into a happy one and help spread good driving karma.
Let’s face it. None of us get enough sleep and when we do it feels great and our day explodes with productivity, patience, and extra skips in our steps. Make yourself get the sleep you deserve and need. Not only is it healthy but you almost guarantee a significant reduction in grumpy interactions during the day. Dreams are an added bonus!
6. Help children be children
Kids need to be kids even these days when we must be mindful of being hyper vigilant to keep them safe. It is a fine balance and a difficult one to achieve. Nothing will pay greater dividends than extra efforts to spend time with kids outside, play a game, read them a story or attend their sporting events. Kids don’t want much. All they ask is for attention, love and a chance to be silly without reprimand.
We are all different. Many people fear and repel anything that is different from themselves. I firmly believe this leads to much of the conflict in our world today. Engage with people and learn from them. Help educate others about you. This does not mean strive to convert. One of the things I love about our 12 Most collaborative blogging community is learning so much from so many bright people from different backgrounds. I loved learning more about Chanukah from Ellen Bremen and Lily Zajc’s posts and having the opportunity to ask them questions about that special holiday.
Donating money to charity is wonderful but the greatest gift you can give is your time. Take a few hours a month to volunteer in your town. Change starts locally and spreads globally.
9. Treat a troop
The men and women of our armed forces are awesome people who work hard to protect us and sacrifice a lot to do their jobs. The next time you see troops grabbing coffee or a meal offer to pick up the tab. It is a small gesture that goes a long way in saying thank you. I have done this many times and they really appreciate it.
It is so easy for all of us to gripe about government, fight about political differences or camp out in a park protesting big bad businesses. It is healthy to have an opinion. I just believe if you don’t vote you shouldn’t gripe. Research the candidates and issues. Exercise your right to vote in every election, even if you have to write someone in. For those of you in the world who are not allowed to vote, fight for this right and create positive change through suffrage.
11. Say “Please” and “Thank You”
Two simple words that open doors in life are please and thank you. They also show respect to another person when requesting something or for a job well done. So please remember these to phrases and even combine them with a nice smile (see #1). Thank you.
12. Expose the positive; don’t feed the negative
Whether at work or at home it is easy to get hung up and point out negatives in someone. We also reward television networks with high ratings for negative trashy programming such as Cops and other reality shows. Strive to expose and highlight the positives in your friends, family and co-workers. Don’t reward content providers that feast off the misery of others.
In 2012 be the exception not the rule and try to integrate one of these into each day. These small gestures will make 2012 and all years to come happier ones.
This post was originally published December 30th, 2011 on 12Most.com.