50 things you can do to improve the world
How to improve the world?
There are many, many ways in which you can make our planet a better place. Every tiny bit helps. Every step matters. I'm sure you have your own well-tried designs for improving the world, but if you were ever stuck for ideas or needed encouragement, here's an article to get you started.
Before we start improving the world:
I want to say loudly and clearly that my purpose is not to tell you what to do. You are the person who knows best how to live your life and I think it's great. My list is designed to be helpful if you're looking for some suggestions, if you need ideas and perhaps some extra motivation. I'm using imperative only because it's easier for me to formulate sentences this way, not because I'm telling you to do anything. Take as many points from this list as you feel comfortable with, reject the ones that don't suit you. Deal?
Some points on my list are specific, some more general, some touch big issues and some are concerned with rather tiny details. This is as I planned, because first and foremost I wanted to show you that it's easy to make something good happen and that it can be fun. You fill in the details.
Behold the space pigeon! :)
1. Be happy!
This is the single, most important thing you can do to bring the world closer to perfection (hope you see me winking). It's simple logic - if every inhabitant of the Earth takes care to stay happy, than the whole world will be happy! I'm not coming up with anything new here, Voltaire wrote about it in his Candide some 300 years ago, but apparently sometimes it's difficult to see the simplest solution. Nobody, anywhere, profits by you being miserable. So be as happy as you can possibly be and rejoice in the knowledge that you're improving the planet :).
2. Love courageously
Love is one of the most powerful forces in the Universe. It can transform lives, it can work miracles. So love with courage! Because it's worth it.
To me, loving courageously means being able to stand by the person I love even if the going gets tough. It means rebelling when someone I love is being ridiculed or laughed at. And few other things.
Whatever it means to you, remember that love is probably the most meaningful thing that can happen to you in your life and that it's worth fighting for. The more of such love exists, the better our world .
3. Plant something
Plant a tree. Plant a flower. Plant anything at all. Our Earth needs more greenery. And we, the Earthlings, need more contact with green things. We moved to big cities and totally forgot where our food comes from. While it may not be possible for all of us to have a plentiful garden full of free food, we all can have at least a splash of green on our windowsill. It will remind you of your roots and produce some oxygen, even if only tiny bit. If you can eat it after it grows, all the better!
Apparently, meditation is the remedy for all our ailments. It helps us to relax, it heals, it widens our horizons and makes all sorts of things possible. It is also easier to practise than you think. According to a book I've just finished reading (see below), meditation can be mastered in a very short time and once you do, there's nothing you cannot achieve. For yourself or for the world.
If you ask me, it's worth to give it a try. After all you have nothing to lose, and everything to gain.
Calm for Life
I got this book as a present from my sister, who also happens to be a wellness practitioner. I tend to be opposed to all sorts of self help books, but I've read this one within a day and it gave me heaps of food for thought.
Basically it describes simplified meditation techniques which can help you relax and get in touch with your subconscious mind. Once this state of calm is achieved, you can approach your goals in more creative way, which tends to equal with success.
I didn't have time to try the method yet, but it sounds convincing. The book itself is very clearly written and is swallowed rather than read.
5. Tell the truth
Instead of a polite lie. If only once a day.
Yeah, well, I know it's a lousy old world we live in, but I think we might make this tiny effort. Lying is so deeply written into our society, that we don't even notice it anymore, much less get repulsed by it. You know what lies I'm talking about. 'You look fantastic in that dress'. 'My customer's happiness is more important to me than my profit'. 'I would've called you but I was so busy'... While in your job environment telling the truth can get you fired (and you need to be REALLY motivated to risk that), in personal life it is a goal worth striving for. How about - 'Red suits you much better than green' or 'I didn't call because I didn't feel like talking'? Is the truth really so scary? Don't know how about you, but I feel so much cleaner (I hesitated to use this word but I guess that's the best description I can get) when I tell a simple truth instead of socially conditioned lie. Moreover, I'm furious when I see someone lying to me in this way. I know it's being polite. I know it's socially acceptable. I just don't like it. And I have a feeling (hope!) that I'm not alone.
Reuse your garbage before you throw it away. Nah, I'm not telling you to reuse everything (unless you're feeling extremely ambitious), just SOMETHING, one tiny item a day, a week even, I'm only suggesting to make a tiniest step in that direction. We are producing a frightful amount of garbage. What is even more frightening (and frighteningly stupid!) is the fact that we could cut this amount by more than half if we only made a slightest effort. If you visited my gardening lenses from links above, then you already know that I'm reusing part of my garbage as plant containers, but that's only one idea, and there's thousands of other ideas out there. Only your imagination is the limit, and if for some reason you can't come up with your own reusing plan, there are numerous articles on Squidoo and elsewhere written only to help you with it. So, one teeny tiny item a day? Please?
7. If you liked something (but only then!), say it
We all like our work appreciated. Just as we all like receiving compliments. Working our ass off to no reaction at all is a sad, discouraging activity so fellow humans, let's make sure that creators of beauty and usefulness around us get their appreciation!
Side note: paying fake compliments as a sneaky way to get into somebody's good graces is a lousy way to behave, end of side note.
8. Read a book
I'm sure most of us don't need particular persuading to curl up somewhere with a nice thick volume. Well, read another one! And another. Books enrich us. Books provide a huge kick to our imagination, boost for ability to dream and often also knowledge to make those dreams come true. So go to your bookshelf, your library, your bookshop and pick a tasty treat. Who knows, maybe the next book you'll read will inspire you to start (or finish!) the project of your life?
9. Spoil someone rotten
It doesn't matter whether it's your child, lover, parent or even a dog! Pick one unsuspecting victim and announce pampering time. Cook a favourite dish. Buy a favourite book. Take them to the cinema to see this film they were excited about. Anything that comes to your mind. It may not solve the problem of hunger in Africa, but it will make someone oh, so much happier!
10. Play freerice.com
OK, here's an ingenious idea if I've ever seen one. You play a word game - you're given a word and 4 potential synonyms, of which only one is correct. For every answer you get right, freerice.com donates 10 grains of rice to those who need it. It may not seem like much, but the game is totally addicting and the grains add up... How cool is that? You improve your language AND support charity in the same time.
11. Switch off your TV
If only for a moment.
If you ask me, TV is one of the worst inventions our kind has come up with. Instead of inspiring, helping you develop, it numbs and steals hours of your time. I hate to see my brain being treated like that, so I don't even have a TV set. But that is my choice and yours can be different. Even if you decide to keep your set (haha), can I encourage you to switch it off for some time? You may create something beautiful instead. Or just relax. Believe me, it WILL do you good. And just think of the energy you'd be conserving!
12. Translate a TED talk
I'm pretty sure you are familiar with TED talks. They are little bits of inspiration, available for no charge to anyone willing to spare 20 minutes of their time. Successful people from all fields of science and technology share their vision and make their work a bit more approachable. I'm not sure how they do it, but most of the talks make it easier to believe that there's beauty and happiness left in this world, and that they are worth striving for.
Not everyone, though, has heard of TED open translation project. Basically it's how they are trying to make their talks accesible and understandable to as many people worldwide as possible. English speakers with good command of at least one more language are asked to contribute their skill and to translate as many talks as they want. Even one.
Now, you won't get any money for it, it's a completely voluntary project. But each translation is properly credited, so if you want to see your name on TED website (and to improve the world this tiny bit) - go for it!
I admit, you need to know a foreign language to participate in the project. But well - many of us do, right?
I translated 2, so far, from English to my native Polish, and enjoyed the experience throughout. Highly recommendable!
TED talk inspiration
Here's one of the videos I translated (nobody says I cannot brag a bit, right?) - although to actually see my work you need to travel directly to TED website. I added this video mainly because I want to share it for its own value. See, I picked it rather randomly, but have learned so many fascinating things during my work with it that I want the world to see it! :)
13. Discover freecycle
How many times have you upgraded something in your home and simply threw the old stuff away? Whether it's a couch, an old PC, a book you no longer like, it may be just what somebody else is looking for! Freecycling is a new worldwide movement prolonging life of things you no longer need. The idea is simple - it connects you with people, who may use the item you're about to throw out. The benefit of our landfills being slightly less full is obvious. Plus, you may find what YOU are looking for and get it for absolutely free!
By the way, the Internet is a great help for finding a freecycle network in your area.
14. Go for a walk
Can such a simple activity really make the world a better place? And why not? Consider this: walking makes you healthier and fitter. Apparently it is also one of the ways in which you can meditate (and for benefits of meditation, go back to point 4). If you choose to walk INSTEAD of going for a drive, it also saves the planet the strain of your exhaust fumes in a very measurable way. Plus, it gets you closer to nature and lets you appreciates all of its beauty. To me, it's good enough. How about you?
15. If you don't know, ask
And, most of all, learn.
We live in the beautiful age, when the Internet may provide you with an answer to pretty much every question. I would like to encourage you to take this opportunity and learn, learn, learn, as much as you can. The more you learn, the more knowledge you will be able to spread, thus making the world a better place.
Plus, there is nothing so irritating as people pretending to know everything without any basis. Learn. It's so easy today.
16. If you believe in something, support it
This may seem easy, right? Well, it probably is.
The thing to remember, though, is the unpleasant fact that words not accompanied by actions rarely are much help (unless it's popularising an idea - there are exceptions to every rule :). If you believe in something, if you believe that someone is doing a good job, please, please, take some action. Even if it's only an encouraging email, or placing a link to a worthwhile website somewhere where it can be seen. If you think organic food is great (hell, it is!), buy organic, if only once in a while. The organic farmer will be grateful and able to produce even more healthy food for you and everyone else.
Our actions are only actions of a single human being, but the numbers add. Every little act in support of something valuable makes it stronger.
My personal list of people doing great job online
The list is by no means full. I will add to it as I discover new gems.
- Public Domain Pictures - Free Stock Photos
Huge, huge resource for public domain pictures for webmasters.
- Public Domain Images
- Public Domain Photos
And yet another one :)
- :: Permaculture Pathways ::
One girl doing a big job. I lurk around her blog sometimes, learn and get inspired.
- Celebrating Sensitivity with Dorota Godby, UK
A fabulous blog reminding me (you, and the rest of the world) that it's OK to be sensitive
17. If you don't - DON'T!
If you don't believe in something, don't support it, that is.
I have two things in mind when I speak about it: the first is your consumer's power, the second - social hypocrisy. Whaa, big words, I know, and I'm sure not many of us would admit they're doing it, but - it's still happening! Seemingly everywhere!
OK, but what is it that is happening, you may ask. I'll give you some examples, I'm sure you'd be able to add many more.
If I think a product is unethical, I don't buy it. Ever.
If I don't like a blog (lens, website, anything), I don't follow it.
If I don't like an idea, I don't support it in public. No matter who expects me to.
If I don't like a person, I don't spend time with him/her.
Things like that. Little things. Obvious things. But they matter so much.
18. Don't invest into something you hate - change it!
I have to admit that in writing this point, I mainly thought of JOBS. I also understand that not all of us have opportunities/willingness/courage to risk the step it takes. It's OK. Sort of. I'm writing mainly for those, who are hesitating anyway :).
I'm listening to people complaining about their jobs all the time. As I'm sure you are (listening, not complaining. Or...?), too. It's unbelievable how much energy is expelled (and wasted!) this way. Yet, they are willing to go further and further in the direction they hate. They do courses in things they hate (because it's rational!!), instead of something they love. They spend most of their time in places they hate, whether it's an office or a mine. Sometimes they really cannot change it. But sometimes - they simply don't have guts. Because complaining is easier than acting.
I'm full of understanding for people who stay in their jobs even if they hate it.
I'm full of admiration for people who don't.
Oh, have I ever done it, you may ask? Sure. Twice. With no back up plan. It wasn't easy. I was scared shitless. I failed, got up, failed again, got up again, and may even fail once more in the future. I don't drive a porsche, but an old peugeot 106, and sometimes I don't even have cash for fuel to run it. But I'm happy, I'm free, I'm working for myself and I love what I do, instead of hating one third of my life.
Doesn't that sound good?
Do you like your job?
If you are struggling with the decision to quit the job you hate and you're feeling lonely with it, DO contact me. I may not be able to give you a life-changing advice, but I'm offering my encouragement and support (well, advice, too, if it happens to be in the area of my expertise). Brainstorming together sometimes brings amazing results :).
You can contact me through 'contact' button on my Squidoo lensmaster page.
19. Think before you buy
I'm not even saying - don't buy (although maybe I should? What do you think?). I'm only suggesting - think before you do. Do I really need this or will it just gather dust in a corner for years to come? Will it really enrich my life or am I just following blindly somebody's advertising campaing? I'm very doubtful if any cereal can make me happy, the most it can do is to get me fed. But I'm digressing, back to the point. Is the product I'm buying really healthy? Did someone had to suffer so that I can have this item (think - fair trade)? Will I just consume the item or is it something self-sustaining or something I can use many times?
See, I think that only the exceptional books deserve buying as long as there are libraries in the world. I think a craft set is a better gift for a child than a plastic figurine. I think top brands are overrated. I think manipulative advertisers are trying to play tricks with my mind and I don't buy their products out of spite. Nobody is getting paid for messing with my head! I think buying a kefir starter is better than buying even the biggest pot of kefir.
I may be alone with those thoughts.
Then again, I may not.
George Carlin on stuff
Nobody sums up my attitude to consumerism better than George Carlin.
20. If you come across a good idea, spread it
Ha, imagine everybody doing just that.
I think this is one of the major advantages of Squidoo and similar publishing platforms: you can share your great discoveries AND get paid for doing it. The better, the more revolutionary your discovery, the more traffic you get and the more you get paid (at least that's how it works in theory).
So, dear discoverers, speak up! What great websites did you stumbled upon recently? What fabulous projects? What delicious recipes?
Oh, if you discovered a gold vein and want to work it, keep it to yourself. We don't want your dirty gold anyway :)
21. Learn to make stuff
1. Because it makes you more independent.
2. Because it saves your money.
3. Because it promotes individuality.
4. Because it's fun.
5. Because you never know when it can get useful.
6. Because you'll never have to buy a present again.
7. Because it boosts your creativity.
8. Because you can barter your product for other stuff.
9. Because you can sell it and make a living off it.
10. Because it will give you a reason to be proud of yourself.
11. Because then you will be able to pass the skill along.
12. Because you will never be bored again.
13. Because it was never as easy as today (thanks to the Internet)
14. Because you will have something to teach to your children.
15. Because resources are cheaper than products.
22. Take your time
Have you noticed how rushed up our world has become? We have fast cars, fast food, fast diets, fast and furious... Yeah, well, the faster you run, the more furious you're likely to become. Slow down! How do you think Mona Lisa would look like if Leonardo DaVinci took two weeks to paint it??? (For the record - he spent at least 4 years on painting her, likely more, and still considered the job not finished)
Take a deep breath. Stop running. See for yourself that the world doesn't burst simply because you don't sprint along.
Take your new-found peace of mind and pass it on.
Perfection takes time
23. Don't cut anybody's wings
'No, I never...' you may say, but let me ask you - really? Are you sure?
I'm not even talking pure malice here. I'm thinking of all the moments in my life, when I had some big dream and heard - 'But that's not possible, you'll never make it', 'This is completely irrational', 'Nobody does it this way' and the likes. Have you never said anything like that, to anyone, I wonder?
I understand there is no bad intention behind such words, just the opposite. Unfortunately too often we call something impossible only because we know we wouldn't be able to achieve it. What if someone else would? And by pronouncing the 'impossible' verdict we cut his or her wings even before they start flying?
24. Wear bright colours
If only sometimes.
I remember travelling on Parisian metro early in the morning few years ago, how shocked I was by the total absence of colour. Everybody wore serious black or elegant grey, and there was not a smile present as far as I could see. While I do understand lack of smile when everyone's going to work, it wasn't much of an uplifting experience.
To contrast this, let me tell you another story. Few years ago I was wild about bright colours. I wore them all the time (too often resembling a parrot, I'm afraid). I was studying for my BA at the time, and it must have been a break between two lectures or something like that, middle of a grey, mid-European winter. I was wearing beetroot-pink trousers, orange-yellow-red striped jumper and big, red, plastic flowers as earrings. Suddenly a colleague of mine (and we didn't even like each other) said: You know what? When I look at you, I feel like if the spring has already arrived.
Compare that to the metro scene and answer honestly - which one brought smile to your face?
Rainbows bring luck!
25. Laugh. A lot.
I don't think there's a single human being on this Earth who prefers crying to laughing (unless we talk babies here?). All for good reason - laughter is good for your body and mind (see the big link for a handful of interesting facts about laughter). It looks like even a fake smile can bring you some health benefits. Optimists live longer and perform better.
Not mentioning the fact, that they also have much more fun.
Oh, and did you know that smile is contagious? Try it!
Probably the funniest author in the world
A word of warning - if someone suddenly becomes very quiet, with occasional bursts of wall-shaking laughter, this is a sure sign of reading a book by Terry Pratchett. Please make sure your family knows this before you start reading anything from the list below to avoid their unnecessary concern :)
26. Appreciate the Earth
The Earth is beautiful. And it's our only home. Once we bust it, we're homeless.
I'm not really trying to force you to become green here. I don't particularly believe in effectiveness of forcing anything on anyone. I would only ask you - stop for a while sometimes and look at all the beauty around. Look at the trees, listen to the birdsong, feel the rain on your face. Get closer to the Nature. She doesn't need advocates, she can speak for herself. Just let her.
27. Give someone a present
Without any reason whatsoever!
This is actually the best bit. It's funny, but people tend to EXPECT presents around birthdays etc., so they don't enjoy it as much as they will enjoy something totally unexpected.
It doesn't have to be anything big. A book you no longer like. A collection of sea glass you've found on your last beach walk. A colourful hair pin. Anything at all, really. Purpose of the exercise is to show someone in the world that you think about them. For no reason at all.
28. Play like a child
Who's to say you mustn't?
Well, probably you will find people who will try. They will keep on blabbering how you should be a responsible adult and that grown-ups don't do such things. You know what I usually say to their arguments?
Let me confess something - I've been rediscovering joys of careless play recently. After years of behaving rationally, I fell in love with crayons. I might even buy my very own colouring book one of these days! I immensely enjoy doodling over page after page, messing around with polymer clay and other similarly childish activities.
You know what's the funniest bit? When I return to my 'adult' world after a short visit to my own private kindergarten, ideas flow not in streams, but in rivers! Works like magic, every time.
Maybe it's worth to get in touch with your inner child, just to keep each other happy?
Make your inner child go wild with joy
Don't worry, I'm not going to go so far as to suggest colouring Cinderellas. But how about those pretty, abstract (grown up!) patterns?
29. Ask 'why?' a lot
Following anything blindly usually isn't a good idea. Ask. If someone has honest intentions, they don't fear questions. Aggressive reaction to questions usually means lack of either sincerety or knowledge.
So ask 'why?' whenever you can, if only to learn something new.
30. Pursue your dreams
I strongly believe that our world needs dreamers, and needs them badly. We live in extremely rational times, when if something cannot be proved, it is disregarded. Actually, after some thought I may keep times out of the equation. Dreaming big has always been considered foolish at best, dangerous at worst. Yet, without dreamers we wouldn't fly, wouldn't have much art to admire, there probably wouldn't be any Internet for me to publish those words. All big inventions of our kind started with someone, somewhere dreaming them up.
So dream big.
Dreamer, genius or both?
31. Learn to love second-hand shops
Once again back to the reuse topic.
But aside from the obvious benefit of prolonging lives of items that would otherwise end up in landfill, there's plenty more.
In some (most?) countries profit from second-hand shops goes directly to charity organisations. Nice.
Having finished the goodie-goodie part, let me remind you that shopping in a second-hand can turn into a real treasure hunting expedition! I would bore you to death if I were to list all the items I ever discovered on my hunts, so I won't. I'll just tell you what they had in common - they were original, funky and NEVER to be found on shelves of regular shops.
Or, at least they were 10 times cheaper than in a 'proper' shop.
I once found Terry Pratchett's 'Carpe Jugulum' priced at 50 cent. Now, that was a day!
Oh, and remember my red-yellow-orange jumper I mentioned in my story about bright colours? Guess where I got it?
32. Put 'no junk mail' sticker on your mailbox
It's not guaranteed to stop the flow of junk, but it's likely to diminish it.
Funny thing, I tried to find 'no junk mail' stickers on Amazon, but there's none (a market niche there, anyone?). I guess you will have to make your own. My suggestion: turn it into a craft project with your kids (if you have kids, that is) and use this opportunity to teach them why junk mail is bad for you.
If you don't know, follow the big link below to find some interesting statistics.
Out of curiosity - what do you think is prettier, a nice, tall, green tree or a pizza restaurant leaflet? Because you'll get what you choose.
33. Support people with vision
Just some food for thought here.
If you give cash to the poor, you'll get them fed. Fair enough, it's not nice to watch someone starving.
If you give cash to someone with vision, a big, bright vision, they may use your support to be able to create something which will bring benefit to thousands of poor people. Educating them, helping them regain dignity, anything.
What was that old saying - if you give someone a fish, you'll feed him for a day, if you teach someone to fish, you'll feed him for a lifetime.
Why I'm bringing this up? Because too often I see someone putting their dreams on a shelf, because apart from saving the world, they need to pay the bills. Somehow, getting a grown-up payroll job kills creativity.
If you want to find those 'garage visionaries', you need to look at your surroundings, I'm afraid. You need to check the backyards. If everyone is talking about someone, if someone can afford advertising and being seen far and wide, they usually have already made it and don't need your support that much.
Or such is my impression.
Where does your support go to?
I tend to have mixed feelings towards big charity organisations. They do their job, they get things done, but they also support huge administration and advertising campaigns. I wonder what is you opinion on the matter? Do you give cash to charities and let them do their job or do you prefer to have more say and approach your charity projects individually?
Whom do you support?
34. Become an expert on something you love
Passion is priceless.
True, becoming an expert on something takes time, patience and often money, but isn't it worth it?
Thousands if not millions of people do courses every year because their bosses tell them to or because they think it a wise career move. And it's ok. But tell me, when will you take most out of a training program - when you are indifferent to it or even hate it or when you totally love what you're learning?
Once you are an expert in what you love, you can pass it on. You can organise workshops, training sessions, even correspondence courses if such is your fancy and you can spread the knowledge. Not mentioning possibility of earning some cash in the process.
35. Remember, all the change in the world starts with you!
YOU are the change!
36. Break the rules
Even slightly. Even once in a blue Moon. Even bend them a little if you don't want to actually break them.
Breaking the rules is so refreshing.
Some rules were put there for your good (like 'wear a seat belt' rule) and I respect them. But some - well, some are suspicious, to say the least.
Who says you cannot paint a tree in blue? It's your goddamn drawing!
Who says you cannot start your day in the middle of the night if such is your whim? Wear electric blue dress with red flip flops? Sing in the metro? What's wrong with that? Who's getting hurt?
No one, right? Then go ahead and try to do any of those things.
Society creates all sorts of rules so that it doesn't feel threatened. Many of those rules are unnecessary, some are outright stupid.
So think before you act, and then break those rules good and hard.
I'm off to put on that electric blue dress...
37. Educate instead of forbidding
I think this is all question of freedom. In some of us the instinct to be free is stronger, in some of us weaker, but it exists in every single human being.
This is why when something is forbidden, it suddenly gains appeal.
I've always been wondering why the goverments bother with issuing all sorts of banning laws. When I hear - you mustn't smoke, I instantly feel like a cigarette, just to prove that no politician is going to dictate what I do with my health. This is just an example. It works in all kind of situations and I know I'm not alone in this reaction.
What would happen if governments stopped chasing joint smokers and instead spent all of this huge cash for educational campaign titled - 'why is it bad for you'? (Haha, I know why, it would be difficult to find convincing arguments, at least in this instance). If you happen to be a big politician, dear reader, please give it some thought.
If you happen to have teenage children, give it some thought, too. Nowhere is this instinct for freedom stronger than in teenagers. Be proud of it!
Do we live in a free world?
I have recently discovered this book and I can't believe it took me so long. It was written in 1931 as a warning, and it's uncanny how the author's imagination is becoming the reality bit by bit.
To be honest, I enjoyed the 'revisited' part much more than the actual fable, but that's probably just me.
If the idea of freedom is dear to your heart, read 'Brave New World'. If only to make sure we don't end up in one.
38. Start a blog about something you love
That is, if you don't have one already.
Why would it make the world a better place? Because we need your knowledge. We need your expertise and your unique point of view.
I used to hate blogs, but that was before I understood how wonderfully versatile tools they are. In short, your blog is what you make it.
Today, if I feel like reading something light and pleasant, I don't buy a magazine, I visit one of my favourite blogs.
Plus, if you're good in this, you can make some money.
Wordpress vs Blogger
This is a debate for advanced bloggers only!
Which blogging platform do you prefer?
39. Be patient with others and with yourself
Even Yoda from Star Wars know that patient you must be. And you surely have heard how good things come to those who wait. But putting proverbial wisdom aside, tell me - how many times have you avoided an argument simply by counting to ten before you spoke, or by going away and waiting until the anger goes away? Me - thousands. I'm so glad.
One more thought - good things take time. Remember how I told you how long it took to paint Mona Lisa? Do you think it was worth it?
Moral of the story: if you're doing something great, but it doesn't bring you instant profit, don't give up. The more you put into it, the better it will get.
40. Send a letter to your favourite author
Or a musician. A filmmaker. Even a politician (if you really have to... :).
OK, I admit it's a rather fanciful advice, and I may change it once I think up something new, but for now - let it be.
The point of the exercise is - if someone brings so much joy and satisfaction to your life, let them know. Personally. Who knows, maybe your letter will catch the author in a moment of depression and thus you will save him from terrible writer's block? You never know. What do you have to lose? Few pennies for postage??
Now, imagine how cool would it be if the author actually replied...
If you can't find address of the author him(her)self, try the agent or the publisher. They want to be found, so contact details should be easily accessible
41. Smile at strangers
Few years ago I was totally in love with books by Malgorzata Musierowicz. She writes mainly teenage fiction, but her stories are so positive, that I know many adults who come back to them again and again as an antidote for bad mood. I tried to find some of her books for you, but Amazon doesn't seem to have English versions...
Anyway in one of her books, there was a group of teenagers who started a club called (in my translation) The Experimental Signal of Good, ESG in short. They were very mature teenagers who liked philosophical debates, as you can probably guess :). They postulated that every human being has a spark of good in them and that the trick is to take it out. They conducted an experiment to prove this point: each person in the group smiled at complete strangers to see if they smile back and to analyse reactions. I don't remember exact figures at the moment and I don't have the book handy, but I remember well that their experiment was declared a success. Most of their 'objects' smiled back :).
How about conducting your own experiment?
Smile! You're on CCTV...
42. Put your heart into everything you do
Funny what a difference does it make.
Care and love make everything thrive. Even dumb plants grow better when they are talked to.
If this doesn't persuade you, try this simple logic: if you put your heart into something, you are bound to get better results. Once you get the better results, you will have something to be proud of and will feel better overall. Then, you will have even more energy to invest in your projects.
43. Circulate the books you no longer need
If I ever, ever catch you throwing your books to the bin, I will chop your hands off, I swear!!
OK, maybe I won't, I don't want to go to jail for your old books. Can I ask you nicely instead: please, pass on the books you no longer need and let others enjoy them. Please?
You can bring them to your local library. Or a second hand shop. Even sell them on Ebay or Amazon. Just don't throw them away.
How about Swap It initiatives? It works for books, CDs, games... The idea is simple - once you've had enough of your book, you register in on a Swap It website. If someone wants to read it, they will contact you and swap it for something that YOU would like to have. This way you get rid of useless stuff and get something new to read for free.
44. Don't be afraid of unconventional solutions
Remember Gordian Knot? The one that Alexander the Great sliced through instead of untying? Or egg of Columbus?
Sometimes you don't need enormous effort to overcome an obstacle, all it takes is a touch of creativity.
And guts to act on it!
45. Allow people to make their choices
The world is a funny weird place. There's plenty of us here. All of us are unique, different and usually highly opinionated too. So what?
Well, the trouble starts when we try to force someone to think or act like we do. They usually rebel - can you believe??? :)
How about allowing other people to make their own choices instead?
Note: To be honest, I believe other people make their choices whether we allow them or not. It's just that accepting this fact saves a lot of indigestion.
46. Practise NVC
NVC stands for Non-Violent Communication.
It is all based on the idea that usually the source of conflict is not WHAT we say but HOW we say it. The words we use influence the message we're trying to get across, sometimes in a very harmful way.
NVC focuses on finding such forms of expression that ensure we are heard without intruding into someone else's comfort zone = without triggering automatic aggressive response.
Sounds like a good plan?
47. 'Everybody's doing it' is a very weak reason for anything
The Australian guy who got killed when 'planking' on his balcony comes to my mind immediately.
I've seen a motto on somebody's T'shirt once, which sums it up better than I ever could. The t-thirt read: People, eat shit! Billions of flies can't be wrong!
48. Declutter your home
Ooooh, that's a tough one. But then again, is it, really?
I'm probably the messiest person you can imagine. I believe in creative chaos and I'm gonna stick with it. But decluttering is a completely different pair of shoes.
There's some magical connection between space and clarity of mind. If your house is full of rubbish, so is your head. Yes, I know it sounds like some New Age balderdash, but it seems to work this way whether we like it or not. I'm not a big fan of feng shui and such, but if I'm really stuck on ideas or just need some - well, clarity - I get a huge rubbish bag and get rid of all the unnecessary stuff. Works wonders, every time.
Plus, of course, you can swap those books, or dump a bag of old clothes on some unsuspecting charity shop or even shower your friends with some pre-loved gifts...
49. Don't wait until somebody fixes your life. Fix it yourself!
I've got some good news and some bad news for you.
Bad news: life is no fairy tale. There's 99.999999999% likelihood that you won't get discovered (no matter how brilliant you are), that you won't meet the Prince Charming (or a Princess, if you prefer) and that no manna will fall from heaven. Tough, but true.
Good news: you have amazing possibilities when it comes to making your own destiny. I bet it's hard, particularly when life is being a real bitch, but if you really want to, you can work wonders. Just like everyone else. The trick, I think, is not being afraid of failure.
It's pure logic: if you try - you may fail. If you don't try - you will fail for sure.
50. Be free, be fearless, be happy - that's what it's all about :)
Hall of fame
Some time ago, this lens has been voted one of the top 11 community favorite lenses of 2011.
I am extemely proud and happy that you, dear community, have found it worthy and I would like to say big THANK YOU for your votes, blessings, likes, comments and all the generous support I'm receiving.
It's great to see one's work noticed.
Did you find any of my ideas useful? Or maybe you want to tell me that I'm a terrible preacher and should avoid speaking in public? If you don't tell me, I will not know, so fire away :)