I’ve always loved the story of the starfish flinger. If you’re unfamiliar with it, read it here.
I don’t know that I can change the world, but I absolutely know that I can change MY world. We all have a sphere of influence. Do you ever bemoan the lack of civility today? Why don’t you start deliberately improving your world today? Imagine the results if we all did this.
Here are some ideas to get us started. Ready, set, go!
1. Smile!! When you pass someone at work or at the grocery store, smile!! I’m amazed at how many people don’t. I suspect they don’t even realize it. When I was a surly teenager, someone said, “Honey, smile. It can’t be that bad.” Thank goodness that stayed with me. I had no idea I walked around with a scowl. I started intentionally smiling that day and now it’s my default. I recently had a little girl say, “I want to be in your class next year. You’re always smiling.” Wow. Just wow.
2. Say thank you. Say it when your spouse does the dishes or picks up dinner. Say it when a coworker does you a favor. Say it often.
3. Ask how someone is and really listen to the answer.
4. Let the car in. When you see someone trying to merge, or even cut, in line, let them in.
5. You know the chatty coworker or neighbor? Instead of avoiding them, stop and give them 5-10 minutes.
6. Send a sweet text or email to someone, recognizing them for something that’s routine, like your spouse picking up the kids or your custodial staff leaving you a spotless office or classroom.
7. Ask someone if you can pray for them. I cannot think of anyone who has ever said no when I’ve asked them.
8. Take old magazines to a retired neighbor, a veteran’s hospital, a hospital waiting room.
9. Offer to clean the common room at your local Ronald McDonald House.
10. Do you know someone going through chemo? Organize a dinner delivery, house cleaning, or errand running system for them.
11. Send a thank you note to military personnel serving overseas. (Okay, that will cost you postage, so it’s not exactly free.)
12. Sit down and color with your kids.
13. Put your phone down and really listen to the one you’re with.
14. Call your parents, grandparents, children, friends, or in-laws and tell them you love them.
15. Do you know someone who cannot get out much? The next time you’re running to the store, ask for their list.
16. Think before speaking. If your words aren’t helpful or encouraging, do they need to be said? Be sure. Words hurt.
17. Stop complaining. Just stop.
18. Play a game with your family instead of watching tv tonight.
19. Think of a chore your spouse always does. Do it for them.
20. Walk and pray. Walk around your neighborhood and pray for your community, your schools, your city leaders.
21. Read the Word. How is that improving your world? Well, as the Word transforms you, you will become more Christlike. As you become more like Him, you’re going to be more thoughtful, more loving….
22. Forgive. Oh my, that one can be easier said than done. Make it a habit to not take offense and to forgive quickly. I know, I know. Just do it. I’m glad I’ve made this a habit. You will be, too. I promise.
23. Let them choose the restaurant or the movie or the music on the drive.
24. Look in your closet. Is there a coat or pair of pants that you don’t wear? Could they bless another? Give them away.
25. Know what matters. Although I have yet to read Gary Chapman’s The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts, I am familiar with the teaching. My husband receives love differently than I do. I know this and I intentionally give him love in ways he enjoys (quality time together), rather than the ways I like to give and receive it (words of affirmation). You can buy the book here.
26. Baking cookies? Take a few to your coworkers.
27. When you get up (from watching a movie, etc), ask your family if you can get them something while you’re up.
28. Remember it’s not all about you. If we are less insistent on having our way, we become more pleasant to be with.
29. Don’t immediately attack. Whether you’re upset with your spouse, kiddos, store clerk, or your child’s teacher…wait. Take a deep breath, get all of the information, and consider the fallout from your reactions. Then take another deep breath before speaking or acting. As a former hothead, I find it helpful to remember I don’t have to react immediately–or at all. A little time allows emotions to cool and perspective to come.
30. Do. Not. Post. Your. Grievances. On. Social. Media.
I’d love to hear how you’re spreading cheer in your community. Please comment and give us all more ideas. Let’s start a movement!