Small acts that can actually change the world


HUMMING IN MY UNIVERSE – Jim Paredes (The Philippine Star) – July 14, 2019 – 12:00am

Life is hard. We don’t have to make it harder. The world is cruel enough as it is. I am making a list that is doable and can result in making life easier for everyone on an everyday basis. Some items may be easy. Others will need a change of attitude. I hope they become ingrained as habits.

Here goes.

1) I cannot say it more emphatically. Follow all traffic rules.

2) Always say “Please” and “Thank you.” Be sincere and look at the person you say these words to.

3) Try to lessen the noise level wherever you are. You can talk more softly while walking along streets, especially at night. Be considerate of your neighbors. You can also lower the volume of your car stereo when you are parked and your doors are open. You can avoid honking your car horn, too.

4) When you want something, as much as possible do not burden others to do it for you, especially if you can do it yourself.

5) When you are too angry, write down your feelings first. Wait a few hours before you decide to throw away that piece of paper or post it on social media.

6) Whenever possible, be aware of and respect everyone’s physical and emotional space.

7) Be kind and courteous to kasambahays, waiters, vendors, salespeople, taxi drivers, security guards, barangay tanods, small public officials who serve us daily.

8) When you have the sudden impulse to buy something, let the moment pass. If you still want it after a day, wait another day. Ask yourself if you really want it or need it. It is important that you know the difference. It happens often that a so-called must-have purchase loses its appeal shortly after you get it, and it ends up as trash piled up in your room.

You may ask, how does this make life easier for other people? It does because you will be one less confused person in this world. You will have more self-awareness, discernment and, hopefully, will do less harm to others.

9) Learn to really listen to people before giving advice. Everyone has something correct to say.

10) Change the oil of your car regularly. That simple act will save the lungs of people who have to breathe in your car exhaust.

11) No matter what the situation is, do not litter: do not throw out your garbage randomly. Especially, do not throw garbage out of your car. That is barbaric behavior and disrespectful to all sentient beings on the road. It is also dangerous. Look for a trash can. Or better yet, lessen your garbage by living more simply.

12) Learn restraint and judgment so you can stop yourself from participating in every argument that comes your way. In terms of your time and blood pressure, most of them are probably not worth it anyway. You do not need more stress.

13) When you can lift up peoples’ spirits in your daily grind, do so even with just a small gesture. Say something kind. Smile. Everybody is going through something. Maybe you can ease some of their pain.

14) Help old and disabled people cross the street when the opportunity arises.

15) Say no to one-time-use plastic bags. Refuse them when offered. Bring your own bag or container when buying stuff.

16) Do not encourage misogynistic, vulgar behavior even if everybody else seems supportive of it. Say no and show your displeasure.

17) When you are with people who are much older than you, consider the possibility that this could be the last time you may be seeing them. Be kind. Pay attention. Show compassion. Learn from every moment with them and treasure the lessons.

18) Do random, wanton acts of kindness towards strangers. As much as other people have helped you in the past, your simple act may actually be the prayer they are asking for. Trust that a kind act will always lead to good.

19) Do not pass on fake news. It is morally wrong and only makes the world a more cruel and confused place.

20) Get to know your neighbors. You don’t have to wait for an emergency to get to know them. Strike up a conversation when you can. It makes the neighborhood safer and friendlier and it builds community.

21) Keep your body active. Take long walks. Jump. Run. Do physical stuff repeatedly. An active body is less prone to depression and sickness. You will be one less person your friends and relatives will have to worry about. And that is good, right?

22) Look out for beautiful things throughout the day. Notice the flowers that sprouted in your garden overnight. Sigh at the sunset. Enjoy that wind that suddenly blew your way. Look for positivity and beauty everywhere in every moment. I like to imagine that everything in the world shows up because it keeps a sacred appointment with me. I must reciprocate. In this way, the mundane can awaken our sense of wonder. It can make us feel grateful just to be alive.

22) Have a few small snacks in the car ready to give to beggars. We used to do this off and on. Instead of giving money, which may end up in syndicates’ pockets, at least you can nourish these hapless people by giving them bodily sustenance.

23) Be less conditional when it comes to seeking happiness. Be happy with less. Be more accepting, open-minded and less judgmental. The only way suffering can become a blessing is if we embrace it. That’s how frogs turn into princes. And when you are happy and content, you automatically pass it on.

24) Check on friends and relatives who may be depressed or going through a rough time. A simple call or visit can do them wonders.

25) Finally, a special lesson for men. When using public toilets, please lift the seat so that the next guy who needs it for a bigger undertaking will not have to use the wet seat you may have left behind. It can be a big deal.

We’ve heard it all before — that we can all do something to make the world a kinder place. No one is asking anyone to be Superman or be the savior of mankind. If we all did something, no matter how small, things add up and can change quickly for the better. That is all that is asked of us.

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