Small Ways To Be The Good In Our World
By Tracey Steer
PHOTOGRAPHY BY monkeybusinessimages/Getty Images
Apr 27, 2017
Given the state of the globe these days, I move between a frustrated rage, wanting to flip tables all day long, and feeling paralyzed while I watch the world burn. I want to disconnect from all of my social media and throw my TV in the trash.
Now, there are ways to create good in our world. We can donate time or resources to useful organizations and causes. We can march, write letters and make phone calls. Pray for people, if that's your thing. Perhaps you've done some of these things already, and yet that tired, weary feeling is still settling into your bones. Your children have their round eyes trained on you, wanting explanations for these atrocities, but you cannot give them any... Then what? What can we do as individuals on a daily basis to feel better?
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This was on my mind as I was running errands at the shops the other day. I noticed an older gentleman I see from time to time in my neighbourhood. I felt I had a hundred items to tick off my list, and my first thought was actually to side-step him. He hadn't seen me yet, and I could have avoided him. But something inside me made me make a beeline for where he was standing instead.
Your children have their round eyes trained on you, wanting explanations for these atrocities, but you cannot give them any.
When Walter saw me, his eyes widened and brightened, and he grabbed both my hands. We kissed on both cheeks while saying hello, and I admired the scarf at his neck — a red bandana, knotted boy scout-style, which is his way. We briefly chatted about the now long-gone holidays and about the weather. He asked about the children, and I asked about his health (both are great, respectively) and we talked about the glum mood that the general state of the world has cast on everyone everywhere.
“We could all use some more kindness in the world,” he noted sagely, and he squeezed my hands and let out a sigh. His eyes seemed a little watery.
I nodded in agreement, because that is really what the world needs now, more than ever before — kindness, empathy, mindfulness.
After a few minutes more, talking about books and our favourite chocolates, I leaned in to kiss his cheeks again. I could feel him smiling as he squeezed my shoulders and patted me on the back. “It's very nice to see you again,” he said. I promised to keep my eyes peeled for him these days, noting perhaps next time we could have a coffee together. He beamed at me, and said he'd look for me as well.
Soon after walking away, I noticed my shoulders had dropped. It had been a while since I'd filled my lungs so completely, without the shaky feeling of tears being far behind. My whole body felt looser, lighter. My whole heart felt full.
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Like my conversation that day at the shops, creating the good in our world starts with simple acts. It may seem like just a few minutes out of your day, but it's the habit that matters — it's not just one kind act on one day, it's every day. Here are a few ways you can create more goodness in your world:
Be mindful in interactions with others
We can be the good in our world through our own actions. We need to make it a practice, like training a muscle. Actually touching someone and kibitzing for a few minutes is good for both body and soul.
It's nothing to hold the door for an extra second for the person coming in behind you. You can look up from your phone and smile at the person bagging your groceries, and look him in the eye when you say, "Thank you."
Do things with intention and with the purpose of spreading good feelings. Join a choir and sing your heart out with a collective of others, or simply check in with friends by sending a note saying, "Hello, I've been thinking about you." And be sure your children are along for the ride because those little sponges are most apt to pick up the habit.
Discuss Kind Acts
Try talking about these ideas at dinnertime with your kids. Besides inquiring about how the day went, ask, “How have you been kind today?” Short lists of small kindnesses add up to a heap of love in a hurry, and tracking these on a daily basis will condition their hearts and minds to recognize what goodness is. It works.
Putting a little more love in the world on purpose is the very least I can do. It's what we can all do more of. And it's easy.
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