It’s difficult not to look at the state of the world today and feel despair. That’s probably one of the many reasons why the photo blog Humans of New York has become wildly popular — photographer Brandon Stanton gleans bits of regular people’s lives, providing a glimpse into the dreams they have and the challenges they’ve overcome. In these images of strangers, we find comfort in our shared humanity. The posts from kids are often especially poignant: The world will soon be in their hands, and it’s heartening to hear what they have to say. Here are 10 of the many hopes grown-ups can find in the little humans of New York.
“If you could change one thing about adults, what would it be?”
“I’d give them more money.”
“Yeah. Some of them don’t even have money to buy food.”
Recognize others’ basic rights. Before you turn to judgment, or thinking about whether someone deserves help, think about how you would feel if you were in their situation. We all need help sometimes.
“Mom took care of me when I was sick so I wrote her a card but the teacher was too busy to help me spell it so I wrote a picture instead.”
Be thankful for what you have. Take the time to acknowledge the acts of service, both great and small, that others do for you. Give to others, and express your thanks when others give to you.
“I don’t understand my feelings. Sometimes I feel sad and I don’t know why. Then sometimes I feel silly, and I don’t know why either. Now I feel ‘wow,’ because this is my very first interview.”
Own your feelings, and acknowledge them. If you have negative thoughts about a problem you can’t fix, practice letting go of them. When you feel joy, embrace it. Feelings aren’t objectively right or wrong — you choose how you manage them.
“I found a ladybug, a beetle, and a little tiny bug that I don’t know.”
“So what advice would you give to other bug collectors?”
“You have to be really focused and find a rock that is big but not too big and you lift it up and if there’s not any bugs you put it back down. But if there is a bug and you like it, you put it in your bug jar. But if you don’t like it you put it back and put the rock back down.”
Even the most humble of creatures deserves basic respect. Be a steward of the earth. Get out into nature and explore, because you never know what might be beneath that next rock.
“What was the happiest moment of your life?”
“When Mr. Carson helps me with my writing.”
“What’s the hardest part about writing?”
“The spaces and the dents and you have to start with a capital. But if you do a good job Mr. Carson lets you play with toys.”
Don’t expect yourself to perfect. Remember that practice makes better. When you’re faced with a difficult task, stick with it. The satisfaction of mastery is a reward in itself.
“What do you want to be when you grow up?”
“A police officer.”
“What’s the hardest part about being a police officer?”
Helping someone else is one of the best things you can do in life. You don’t need to be a superhero; just be attuned to the needs of those around you. You can call it good karma, you can call it paying it forward. Either way, being of service to others puts more positive energy into the world.
Normally I have to approach people for quotes. But this kid walked right up to me, held his certificate in the air, and screamed: “I played at Carnegie Hall!”
Take pride in your accomplishments. No one can take them away from you. You should never hide your talents from the world. You can make the world a better place by sharing your abilities.
“I’m going to be an artist.”
“Do you have any advice for other artists?”
“Don’t press down too hard with your crayons.”
When you’re trying something new, it’s worthwhile to sweat the small stuff. Give yourself time to practice and learn. Don’t become angry with yourself if you aren’t improving as quickly as you wanted. If you keep working, you will get to where you want to go.
“I listened to my teacher and went beyond and above.”
Always aim high. Work from the assumption that you can do it. Even if you try something and fail, you can learn much more from your failure than from not having tried at all.
I photographed the little guy on the left because he was carrying a violin. During the post photo interview, his little brother kept chiming in with his own answers. It was clear that he wanted to be part of the process. After a few questions, the older one called to his brother: ‘Come be in my picture, Riley.’
Sharing your life with others makes your life infinitely richer. Family and friends are some of the most important gifts we receive in life. Honoring those relationships strengthens your bonds, and helps everybody feel more connected.
Featured photo credit: Brandon Stanton via humansofnewyork.com