If you met me three years ago, “peaceful” is one of the last words you’d use to describe me. I was a total stress case. A self-described Type A personality, I was rushing through life and overwhelmed by the world with all of its troubles. I saw problems instead of solutions, and thought world peace was impossible.
About two years ago, though, I stopped watching the news and quit reading the headlines on social media, and what I discovered changed me forever.
Taking a step back from the wars, the shootings, and the perils of global warming gave me a gift: I focused only on my own life, and the people who I actually, physically came into contact with.
It was a revelation.
While there’s still negativity in my immediate surroundings—people with road rage, for example—I realized that my own personal world is actually significantly more peaceful than I thought it was.
The news has a way of making the problems of the world feel vast and overwhelming. But taking a few minutes to connect with the people you encounter each day has a way of bringing the world into perspective. We are all individuals, and it’s easy to make just one person a bit happier.
So while saving every single soul in the world is not personally possible, small acts in your daily lives have a way of multiplying – creating a snowball effect – that do change the world.
A few weeks ago, I handed a note to a woman I didn’t know. The note said, “I really love the way you talk to your son – you are so kind and patient. I can tell you are a good mother.” I didn’t want her to read it in front of me (I’m a pretty shy person, actually), but she did. The only thing she said was “thank you,” and we both started crying. She was grateful, and so was I. I can’t speak for her, but the experience certainly changed my day for the better.
I try to do simple things like this every day to touch the people I interact with, and it’s made my life infinitely better. I highly recommend giving it a try.
When you’re starting a new habit, sometimes it’s hard to remember to actually do it. You get to the end of the day and realize you didn’t do what you meant to do when you woke up. If you have access to the internet (which clearly you do, if you’re reading this), check out the site Lift.do. It helps you start and maintain new habits that can ultimately change your life. (They have an app, too.) Join JustGive’s group—we’ll help you get started and give you inspiration along the way as you develop new habits. Just “check in” every time you carry out a random act of kindness. You can also use the group to increase your volunteering and charitable giving…two other ways you can help create peace.
So today, start creating peaceful connections with the people you encounter: Smile. Leave a big tip. Really see the people you interact with. You’ll be living in a more peaceful world before you know it.