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Natural Awakenings SW PA, Greater Pittsburgh

Simple Acts Can Change the World

May 28, 2021 09:30AM ● By Julie Peterson
Group of people practicing small random acts of kindness holding sign saying free hugs

leszek glasner/

It’s easy to feel small and helpless in a world full of big problems, but there are simple, daily actions we can take to change it for the better.

Be the change. If the park needs more shade, ask permission to plant a tree. If there is trash on the sidewalk, pick it up. An eyesore building could be a community art project. The possibilities are endless. Sometimes the very things that we complain about can be turned into action items, improving conditions for everyone. Fix something. 

Choose gratitude. It’s difficult to miss the news as it pops up on phones, computers and TV. But media outlets can offer a repetitive loop of negativity and conflict. When exposed to this for hours, it can erode faith in humanity and hope for the future. To prevent feeling a sense of soul-crushing doom, we must tune out of the constant chatter. Select 30 minutes every other day to read news. We will become more positive if we spend the former news time listening to music or writing in a gratitude journal. Appreciate the good.

Find compassion. When there is no shortage of road rage, angry customers and political divisiveness, don’t engage. We never know what another person has gone through in life or earlier that day. Don’t be a judge; be a vector to peace. Let the driver merge, let others be right, let our buttons get pushed without escalating the situation. Loving kindness for others involves wishing them health, happiness and safety. It doesn’t need to be outwardly expressed; it can be an internal thought. Respect everyone. 

Be kind. Perhaps there is someone that would appreciate a meal or help with chores. Offer time without expectation of a reward. Random acts of kindness can be done anonymously: pay the toll for the next car, deliver a care package, donate supplies to a local nonprofit or simply smile at strangers. Give freely. 

Every time we fix, appreciate, respect and give with a genuine heart, there is a ripple effect. Everyone we touch feels better. Moving forward, these people likely will be kinder to others. Envision each genuine act pouring forth like a wave of light, gathering momentum as others add their light. Imagine it can wash over the Earth, touching everyone. We can make a difference. Start now.

Julie Peterson is a Random Acts of Kindness activist, an assistant to the Wisconsin Kindness Angel and an advisor for Kindness Bank, a nonprofit invested in improving community health and well-being. 

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