I’m sure like me, you have overheard people talk about how the world has changed, how people don’t care about each other, can’t be trusted any more and are just out for themselves. How children and teenagers have no respect, are lazy, selfish etc, etc. These sorts of comments both amuse and annoy me. They amuse me because people have been saying these things for endless generations, some attributing similar comments to Plato and Socrates back in Ancient Greece before the birth of Christ. They annoy me because they imply an inevitable moral decline that we are all victim to.
I don’t know about you, but I refuse to use my precious life to play the role of victim in anyone’s abusive power play. I do not believe that human behaviour has changed that much in all recorded time. There are billions of good people in our world, doing ordinary, unremarkable, loving things every day, in devotion to family, friends and their own communities. Unfortunately, as we all know, this is not news worthy and the ugly behaviour of a minority gets a disproportionate amount of air time, duping people into believing that the world is becoming more dangerous, violent and frightening. I want to challenge this negative mindset by inviting everyone to act in simple, yet profound ways. We are not victims, we are powerful creative architects of the communities we live in! Each of us can make a difference to our own little part of the world and by doing so create a chain reaction, a beautiful ripple effect of kindness, patience, respect and joy.
I ask you to consider adopting a generosity of spirit, to behave in your daily life with grace and kindness. Examples of this generosity of spirit are ridiculously simple. Give a real smile with eye contact to shop assistants who serve you, acknowledging the service they spend their life providing to you and others. Try acknowledging people as you pass them in the street with a simple smile, good morning, or beautiful day! It’s really not that scary and they may even smile back! Early morning walks are always good for this one, a little more difficult at rush hour, but hey if you’re up for the challenge. 😀
Another personal favourite of mine is being kind to older people. They’re the amazing, ordinary heroes in our community. They’ve survived multiple wars, The Depression, loss of friends and family, illness and pain, not to mention all the other tricky ups and downs that a life lasting 70 or more years can dish out. They’re still standing, they’ve earned a little consideration! You may be the only person who acknowledges them that day and even if you’re not, they deserve a moments attention, they deserve to feel valued and acknowledged. You can be the gift of human contact, a simple beautiful moment of acknowledgement that will lift your spirit as it lifts theirs.
I can assure you that once you get started an amazing world of opportunities to connect, laugh and care for others, in tiny, easy ways, that only take seconds, opens up. The great thing is that I don’t know who ends up feeling better, you or them. By giving a little, you receive so much back. Not only do you feel great, you start to feel part of a community, people remember you in shops, they smile and chat, you share small pleasantries. The examples I’ve given may seem obvious, even trite, but very soon you realise that in doing this you become present to your own life. You begin to look for opportunities to share kindness and in doing so your life and others lives are enhanced and made more joyful. You start to realise in a very practical way, the power we all have to create our own lives and to be powerful agents of positive change in our world.
I do acknowledge that chatting with strangers is not everyones cup of tea, but there are small things all of us can do, just start with what feels comfortable for you. A great option is to commit to being a respectful driver. If someone does something stupid in traffic, try just letting it go. Practice remembering we always have a choice in how we respond, we don’t have to overreact, shout, or even honk. Just smile and remember we all have bad days, laugh and know we all make mistakes, anger doesn’t have to be our ‘go to’ emotion. Try letting drivers in front of you in traffic with a smile and a wave and remember to give a wave if someone lets you in. All of these acts become little kindness ripples flowing out into our world.
What I’m suggesting is well within all of our capabilities. What I’m asking is to think more about our responsibilities than our rights, to be responsible for our own impact on the world. Rather than being a victim to some sort of moral decay, make the world a better place because you’re in it. Embrace opportunities to be kind and watch the ripple effect of your own behaviour.
Our lives are made up of millions of tiny unconscious moments, these moments are precious, strung together they create our life, our personal legacy to the world. These moments are full of opportunities to weave a legacy of love, joy and respect, or of anger, hate and pain, that will continue to radiate out in ever widening ripples long after we have left this world.
What will your legacy be?
Till next time,
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