We are our best selves in the wake of disaster. 9/11 forever changed us. But in its aftermath, there was a level of humanity in our country that blanketed us all. Acts of kindness – small and large – were everywhere. We were there for each other.
It didn’t last. I’m afraid that’s not the nature of civilization. We all can’t just get along; as evidenced by the recent election, there are too many of us, and we’re too different to expect ongoing harmony and accord. We can, however, do better…every single one of us.
Lists of this type are not unique, but at this particularly complex juncture in American history, they are timely and, I’ll go so far as to say, needed. So, regardless of what side of the tug-of-war you voted on, I’d like to make a few simple suggestions here, little everyday things that can make a big difference right now.
Why 36? Let it be acknowledged that 36 is asking a lot – of concentration, contemplation, application. If I’d shot for 101 or 365, you probably wouldn’t even still be reading this. Numerologically speaking – if you can wrap your head around that sort of thing – it represents energies that accomplish creative goals for helping humankind. If a number can be personified, it is said that 36 is a humanitarian. So let’s dive in, shall we:
- Don’t look back; let’s move on.
- The simplest gestures can turn someone’s day around; begin by holding a door.
- Say “Thank you,” and mean it.
- Be a good neighbor.
- Be a better friend.
- Don’t nullify your good intentions. (For example: Most financially challenged families use laundromats because they don’t have washers/dryers. If you’re donating clothing items to those less fortunate, wash them first; charitable drops are not dumpsters).
- Never litter. Ever. My mother always said that her epitaph would be: “She left the world a cleaner place.” If you drop something (on purpose or by accident – it happens), retrieve it. Instead of stepping over or around someone else’s mess, pick it up and dispose of it properly.
- Discover the “unity” in community. Perhaps you might even try participating in a local clean up or other activity close to home.
- While it’s true that the circle of life returns us too closely to where we began, do not condescend to the elderly.
- On the road, be the driver who…stops for pedestrians.
- … makes it easier for other drivers to change lanes.
- …makes it possible for parallel parked drivers to merge into traffic. Someone has to do it. Why not you?
- Smile. It’s contagious.
- Break the habit of saying, “No,” and try “Yes.”
- Breathe (really) – deeply and from your midsection up into your lungs. This increase of oxygen will help clear your head. Good for you and for those around you.
- Sleep. If you’re not clocking seven hours nightly, try to add an hour or so. You’ll feel better, be happier, less stressed and more cogent.
- Examine your motives.
- Opt for honesty.
- Random acts of kindness are great, but kindness isn’t random.
- Practice humility.
- Give blood.
- Give…an inch.
- Give anonymously.
- Exercise your right to think for yourself.
- …and, if possible, think before you act or react. “What we think, we become.” – Buddha
- Don’t yield to apathy.
- Try not to jump to conclusions.
- When someone is rude to you, try not to compound it by mirroring that rudeness with your own.
- Make room for empathy – put yourself in someone else’s shoes.
- Fight against taking the low road…and for the high road (thank you, Michelle Obama).
- For Pete’s (and everyone’s) sake, turn off the faucet! Water, like freedom, is a precious resource.
- Never underestimate the power of a hug.
- Listen to what others have to say.
- Understand that sometimes it’s okay to sweat the small stuff because it can be the beginning of big change.
- Try to take something from everything.
- Work at being the best version of yourself.