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These Simple Things You Do Can Change the World But You Don’t Realize It

These Simple Things You Do Can Change the World But You Don’t Realize It

One of the easiest things to do to help change the world is to spread kindness. Yet so often we forget to take the time and, in fact, take many of our loved ones for granted. It’s important to remember to be kind because life can sometimes be terribly unkind. It can be relentless and often quite painful.

We are all put on this planet to do something with our lives, to make others happy, to help and serve others. With this in mind, perhaps it’s time to start thinking about how you can spread the gift of kindness to those around you. If we can take time out to remember to show kindness to those around us, to strangers and to animals, hopefully it will cause a knock-on effect, so that others can spread the kindness further.

I’ve come up with 20 tips to get you started so we can all change the world—one step at a time.

1. Be thankful

Saying thank you to someone because they helped you, they’ve served you in your local store or they’ve continually supported and listened to you over the years is a big deal. Taking time out to be grateful for the people in your life, your job, your home, and just being able to live and breathe is essential for living a good and happy life.

2. Become non-judgmental

When you judge people and their lives it normally means that you judge yourself just as harshly, which can make it a pretty bad habit to have. No one likes to be judged. To change the world, the less you judge others the less likely others will judge you.

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3. Helping others

If you are like me, it’s hard to ask for help from those around you. So whenever someone is in need, always remember that it was probably difficult for them to ask for your help. Go a step further than normal and offer to help before they ask. Do it with no expectation and do it with kindness.

4. Be kind to those you may otherwise take for granted

Many of us take our loved ones, specifically our partners or parents, for granted. Life is short so remember to be kind and loving to those who are always there in your life no matter what, before it’s too late and they are no longer around.

5. Remember how you felt when others have been kind to you

Take a little moment right now, sit still and really think about how it makes you feel when someone takes time out of their busy schedule to be kind to you. It feels good, doesn’t it? Now is the time to spread that kind of feeling to others. Imagine how this could change the world around us: that feeling that we all have when someone is kind to us. Amazing, right?

6. Be kind to you

To be kinder to others it’s so important to be kind to yourself to start off with. How can you be kind, loving and loyal to those around you if you can’t extend the same courtesy to yourself? So start today, write a list of three things you are thankful for about yourself and write in a journal each day to remind yourself.

7. Think of others before acting

Before you leap into a situation, or try stepping in to help someone who you think may be suffering, try to think of how they feel about the situation first. They may not want you to get involved, or your involvement could cause them embarrassment or, worse, pain. Imagine if a world leader stopped to think first about how their country felt before deciding to start a war, imagine what kind of change that could make to the world? I know that this example is extreme but you can start small. So start with thinking about others’ feelings before you act upon your own.

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8. Encourage rather than criticize

So many times we jump in to criticize someone—which often comes from our own fears and insecurities—but rarely do we encourage as our first thought. Help others see what they do as positive; this will give them a well-deserved lift to their self-esteem, encouraging them to do it more often.

9. Put the shoe on the other foot

So often we are unkind when we only see things from our own perspective. Before reacting to what someone has said or done, ask yourself this: “What would I do and feel if I were in their shoes and what in this person can I see in me?” Being mindful is important: think before you react and you’ll be surprised by the results.

10. Do unexpected things

Imagine receiving a note in your lunch box just to say, “I love you,” or, “Thank you.” How would that make you feel? Try expressing your kindness and gratitude by doing little unexpected things for your loved ones. Make them feel wonderful and you too will feel just as good simply by doing it.

11. Be there

Listen without thinking of what to say next. Be there for someone just because. Take time out to help someone to figure things out. Just be there. It’s that simple.

12. Do the little acts of kindness

We go through our daily lives existing most of the time. We rush from place to place not really acknowledging those around us. So start smiling at strangers, saying hello and thanking them for holding a door open or letting you cross the road in front of them. To change the world we need to continually do the little things every single day.

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13. Give yourself a kind gift

When was the last time you treated yourself to something special or luxurious? It doesn’t have to be something expensive; by all means treat yourself to a lovely long soak in the bath, or a nice healthy meal or a lovely long stroll along a golden beach. Whatever it is, see it as a gift to yourself.

14. Help someone practically

Whether it’s helping them with their shopping or helping them move home, helping someone out practically and not asking anything in return is both rewarding and kind. When someone offers without wanting anything back it is pretty hard to receive, but feels wonderful as the receiver. So start doing things for others, especially those who can’t get out and about like they used to.

15. Encourage positivity and kindness in others

This step isn’t about telling others what to do and how to live, it’s more about noticing when those around you do something kind and then telling them how great they were for doing it. Encourage as much as you can; many of us do things that go unnoticed, then when someone comments on it, it can make you want to do it again and again.

16. Do something for someone without them knowing

One of the biggest ways to show kindness is to do it unconditionally. Many of us do things because we’d like to get something back, and then if it’s not returned we can get resentful. So as you show kindness on a daily basis to those you love, do something kind for them without them knowing who it was. This will make them feel wonderful and help to shape their view of people in general. It will make them believe that there are people who do things without expectation.

17. Do something kind every day

Make it a habit to do something kind every single day. It can be something small, a gesture, a kind remark or a compliment. Anything at all! But make it a habit, like brushing your teeth, and do it daily.

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18. Be kind to animals

Whether you have a dog or a cat at home, or if you don’t care for animals so much, make it a choice to be kind to animals. Animals live on this planet too and have as much right to exist and share this beautiful world with us. It doesn’t matter how you show your kindness. Just don’t be cruel. Understand that animals have to survive too and that they are beautiful, magnificent creatures just like us.

19. Give to charity

When we give to a charity we are helping others fulfill their purpose in providing support in such a way that we could never possibly imagine. When there are massive disasters in other countries, many people flock to that country to help at a moment’s notice without giving it a second thought. If this isn’t you, then do your bit and give to charity to help support them in being kind across the world. What a fantastic way to change the world!

20. Be kind to your enemies

This is important, especially if we want to change the world. Whomever you perceive as your enemy, take a good hard look at them and their life. Think about what makes them your enemy and ask yourself if it’s important to hold a grudge or to continue making your life miserable by being unkind or uncaring?

Start to see things differently, think about why someone could be the way they are. Have they had a hard time? Are they perhaps insecure and full of fear, which is why they react to you in the way they do? Remember, what we usually see in someone else can be what we see in ourselves, which is why we don’t like them. Change yourself and start to be kinder and nicer to those you no longer get along with. You’ll see a huge change, and if not within them, then in you.

So how can you start to be a kinder person from today? What do you need to do more of and why? Let us know in the comments.

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Last Updated on January 15, 2019

How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

Many of us feel awkward talking to strangers. I’m a very outgoing person, even though I sometimes feel uncomfortable walking up to someone and asking a question or starting a conversation. I consider myself pretty high up on the extrovert meter. So what is it that makes us pause and become worried or anxious about talking to people we don’t know?

In this article, we will discuss why we feel this way as well as some tips on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

Step right up, don’t be shy!

Why We Feel Awkward Talking to Strangers

The next time you feel uncomfortable talking to a stranger, tell yourself that’s completely normal. There are numerous reasons why it’s actually natural to feel awkward talking to strangers:

Our Stress Levels Rise Around Strangers

Numerous studies have show that our levels of cortisol go up when we are around strangers.[1] Cortisol is the hormone inside of us which produces stress responses.[2]
So there you go, right off the bat you can see part of your standard response to strangers is due to a chemical reaction!

A very interesting by product of increased cortisol is that it makes us less empathetic. More than likely this can be traced to our evolution. The increase in the cortisol and the corresponding decrease in empathy makes us want to stay away from strangers. We are biologically wired to feel concern around strangers.

Evolution Taught Us to Be Wary

Evolution has also taught us to be wary of strangers in general. Humans as a whole have spent a large chunk of their history banded together in small protective groups. We did this in order to help protect each other and maximize resources.

When you think about it in this context, outsiders to our small groups or strangers are considered potential threats. Fear of strangers is common across almost all human cultures.

Culturally Conditioned

We can also thank our society for helping us feel uncomfortable and sometimes afraid of strangers. The term “stranger danger” is something most of us can relate to either growing up or raising kids. Or both.

I remember hearing this from my parents, mostly about not getting in someone’s car I didn’t know. And as the father of 2 teenage girls, you can be sure I’ve talked to them about this very concept more times that they want to hear.

The thought that strangers can be dangerous is built into us as it is. Toss in the amplification of the media on strangers doing things such as kidnapping kids and it takes it to an even higher level.

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Now that we’ve reviewed some of the reasons why we are nervous, let’s look at why you should talk to strangers more.

Benefits of Getting over the Awkwardness

Let’s take a quick look at some of the advantages of how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward. These are some high level benefits of talking to strangers.

1. Broadens Your Network

After you talk to someone, you didn’t know previously they become someone you know at least a little bit. This alone helps broaden your network of people you know. This is helpful in many ways whether it is work related or socially related.

2. Improves Your Communication Skills

I am a huge proponent of the value of solid communication skills and have written about it often. The more you talk to people, especially people you don’t know, the better your communication skills become.

Interacting with a wider variety of people will bring the added benefit of improving your communication skills.

3. Continually Learning

So many of us don’t actively seek to learn new things. This is one of the primary keys to staying engaged in life and our own personal self fulfillment.

Almost every time I speak to someone I didn’t know previously, I’ve learned something new. When we speak to strangers, it pushes us out of our comfort zones and we tend to learn new things.

4. Increases Self Confidence

Every time we learn to do something we were previously anxious about, we feel better about ourselves.

Forcing ourselves to talk to strangers will lead to increased self confidence. As we get more and more comfortable doing something that previously made us feel awkward, our self confidence will go up and up.

So, how to talk to strangers to reap these benefits?

How to Talk to Strangers

Here are some tips to on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

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1. Say Hello

Putting “say hello” first may seem a bit obvious but let’s take a deeper look. Much of the social awkwardness when speaking to strangers is simply breaking the ice. The first words that will engage someone.

Most people will respond when someone says hello or hi to them. And those that don’t, you probably don’t want to talk to anyway.

Practice being the person that opens the door to a conversation. Say hello.

2. Ask About Them

Something that I have noticed over the years is that people love to talk about themselves. Even fairly private people tend to open up when asked about events in their lives.

You can ask leading questions that get people to talk about themselves and recent events. Things like recent movies watched or the summer vacation are great to get someone talking.

As a father, I also know that people love to talk about their kids. Asking about kids is a fairly easy topic to bring up and in general, most people will expound upon all the great things their kids do or are involved with.

3. Just Do It

One of the biggest reasons we don’t do things we want to or know we should is because we overthink it. Quit thinking about it so much and just do it.

When you give yourself the time to analyze every little angle about a situation, you also give plenty of time to talk yourself out of it. You’ll wind up thinking what if this happens or what if that happens.

Try to force yourself to jump right in without thinking about it too much. Whenever I have done this, I always feel great about it afterwards, no matter how it turned out.

4. Don’t Take It Personal

One of the greatest lessons in life I ever learned was don’t take anything personally. We all go through life with our own sets of experiences and see things through our own lens. The way people react to different situations has almost nothing to do with us. It has to do with previous experiences and the way people feel about things other than us.

When someone’s reaction isn’t what you’d hoped or expected, chances are it has nothing to do with you. Remember that and keep it in context.

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5. Get a Chuckle If Possible

I used the word chuckle purposely because it makes me laugh. In my opinion, it’s one of those funny words. We all like to laugh because it makes us feel good. And when someone makes us laugh, we typically remember those people in a positive light.

One of the best ways to make a conversation easy and free flowing is to get some laughter going. It doesn’t mean you have to be the master joke teller or anything. See if you can work in a way to make the person you are talking to get a smile or some laughter in. In fact, laughing at yourself maybe a nice try.

6. Detach

A great feeling is when you don’t mind which way something turns out, that you will be fine no matter what happens. Kind of like when I watch my two favorite football teams play against each other. I don’t really care who wins, I just want a fun game.

Treat talking to strangers the same way. You don’t really care how the conversation goes because you are detaching from the outcome. Make it a fun time with yourself and if the conversation goes well, awesome! If not then no big deal, move on.

7. Share Your Stories

Well, all like to feel connected to other people. And many times we wind up hanging out with people that we have things in common with. No surprise here.

To help with how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward, tell stories that have commonalities with the person you are talking to. Kids are an easy one. I have a daughter who was a competitive cheerleader and now plays club volleyball. I have instant connection and stories with strangers I speak with who have kids that play sports. It’s easy to relate to.

So when you are speaking to a stranger and you have a story or mutual connection point, bring it up.

8. Give a Compliment

Almost everyone likes hearing a compliment, whether they admit to it or not. As a general rule, we don’t give out enough compliments. It’s amazing how one small remark someone tosses your way about how good you look can literally make your entire day.

When you are speaking with someone you don’t know, see if you can work a compliment in. Nothing creepy here. Not a good idea to tell someone you just met that they are the prettiest or handsomest person you ever met. However, if you can share how you like their tattoo or shoes or something like that, it will help put the conversation into an easy going, smiling place.

9. Relax Your Body Language

If you go into a situation all worried and nervous, it shows on your body. Your shoulders are tensed up, there’s a look of consternation on your face, things like that.

When you engage a stranger in conversation, make it a point to relax your body language. Take a deep breath before you engage the person, let your body relax, and put a smile on your face. This will help relax you and it has the added benefit of putting the other person more at ease.

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If they see that you are relaxed, it helps them relax. Plus having open, engaging body language is very conducive to inviting someone to open up into a conversation with you.

10. Practice, Practice, Practice

Like everything else in life, talking to strangers gets easier with practice. The more you do it, the easier it becomes.

Make it a point to talk to several strangers each week and it will definitely help you relax as you do it more and more.

After a while, it will become something you don’t even think about, you just do it. And that takes all of the awkwardness out of being in these type situations.

The Bottom Line

As we have seen, it is perfectly natural to feel awkward talking to strangers. We are biologically built that way and we have our own society constantly warning us how dangerous it is. It’s no wonder we feel awkward talking to strangers!

There are numerous benefits to learning to be more comfortable talking to strangers. See if you can employ some of the techniques mentioned to learn how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

Once you start practicing speaking with strangers more often and utilizing some of the tips, you will become more comfortable doing so. This in turn will lead to a learned new skill and increased self confidence.

Remember, everyone you know was a stranger at one time. Now get out there and make some new friends.

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Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

Reference

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