You would assume that changing the world is reserved for world leaders or the 1 percent: people with power, resources, money, or big fame and extraordinary talent.
But trusting the future of your life, your community, or your planet to other people means denying yourself your potential to make a difference and set your own standards. We are all made equal, meaning we all have the power to contribute to making the world a better place in our own, individual ways.
This doesn’t have to be in the form of government lobbying or some grand action, as you’d traditionally think. In fact, smaller yet consistent actions can have as big of an impact as those bigger gestures by people in the public eye. What might seem like a drop in the ocean now can turn into towering waves or the ocean itself, if you have faith and stick to your commitments long enough.
Here are some ideas of small but mighty actions you can start taking today to help move the world into a more positive direction.
1. Say No to Plastic
We all know that the world is currently navigating an urgent environmental crisis, with plastic being one of the biggest contributors to the issue: it takes hundreds of years to decompose and fills the atmosphere with carbon emissions along the way. When discarded in the ocean, it ruins the ocean ecosystem, affecting coral reefs, and consequently the oxygen we breathe. On an individual level, you could save the planet an average of 220 pounds of plastic waste per year if you start cutting down on your plastic consumption today.
You don’t need to become perfect overnight, but rather take gradual steps. You could start with simple steps:
- install a water filter at home and stop buying plastic water bottles. If you need to carry around a bottle of water, invest in a good reusable one.
- simply pick package-free food at the supermarket aisle or consider buying groceries at the farmer’s market (and make sure you always have a plastic-free bag with you);
- spend an hour doing a beach/park cleanup on your next vacation.
“What I’m doing might be a drop in the ocean, but I realize that change can only start if I take responsibility and become part of it by acting on the things that matter to me,” said Mimi Ikonn, who makes a point of cleaning local beaches or parks whenever possible, in a bid to contribute to the solution. Just imagine if we all took her lead and cleaned up our local beach or park.
2. Small Acts of Kindness
Even the most self-assured of people could use a compliment or a helping hand once in a while. You could make someone’s day by telling them that you appreciate them, by smiling at them, or simply making a small but meaningful gesture like buying them a cup of coffee, inviting them to lunch, or sending flowers.
It costs nothing and it’s guaranteed to make both parties feel an instant boost of positivity. Not to mention the trickle down effect: the person whose day you just made will most likely be more upbeat and channel positive energy with everyone else they interact with.
In a society that often pits us against each other and encourages comparison, a small act of kindness like a smile or a compliment can be transformational. It might be a guy who’s driving your dream car, or a woman whose impeccable taste and aura you admire—instead of comparing yourself to them and feeling lesser than them, simply let them know your feelings of admiration, feel inspired, and watch how you’ll attract similar abundance into your own life.
3. Educate Yourself
There’s a reason you’re always asked to put your own oxygen mask first, in case of an airplane emergency: if you’re not functioning well on an individual level, there’s no way you can help those around you either. You can take this metaphor and apply it to your day-to-day life, too, by making sure that you are always investing in yourself and your growth.
Make your education a lifelong pursuit and seek people and resources that will challenge you in the right ways and ensure you are always evolving as a human, and learning new skills.
Education doesn’t equal traditional academia: you can educate yourself about self-care, about looking after your mental health, and about what your body needs to function at its best. You could also get curious and start learning more about how to redefine success and happiness according to your values and how to contribute to the causes that are closest to your heart.
By having an ever-evolving approach to education, you will never stop discovering yourself and new ways to adopt sustainable habits, contribute to your community, live consciously—and make the world a better place.
4. Resist Consumption Culture
Something as simple as asking yourself whether you truly need another pair of shoes and thinking twice before purchasing a trendy piece of clothing that will probably go out of style in six months can contribute to changing the world. How, you might ask?
Firstly, you’d be helping reduce the demand for constant newness in the fashion industry and relieving the planet of more waste. At present, it’s estimated that a truckload of clothing around the world is being thrown out every second.
Secondly, you’d be saying “no”, going against the grain and taking an individual stance against the incessant marketing, encouraging you to keep investing money in material possessions and ephemeral trends with little to no return. It’s a win win: you help save the planet while putting your own individual style and needs first.
5. Exercise Gratitude
The power of gratitude has been proven time and time again. By incorporating gratitude as part of your spiritual practice and spending a mere few minutes every morning and evening to write down what you’re grateful for in The Five Minute Journal, you will see your mindset transform. Not only do you gain a new appreciation for your own life and put yourself in a position to attract more such goodness, but from this emotional space you can inspire everyone around you to adopt an attitude of gratitude, too. And what can make the world a happier place than lots and lots of grateful, mentally strong people?