If I were to conduct a random poll and ask people, “do you think you are a good human?” I am positive about 90-95% would say yes and start listing out all the good deeds that they do. In my opinion, we are all born innately good. However, trauma, life circumstances, and negative experiences can taint that child-like fresh perspective as well as the belief that there is good in the world and that decent humans still exist.
Today, I want to share ten ways to be a better human. Some of these things are quite simple. In fact, you may be doing most of what is on the list already. I challenge you to start spreading joy and kindness back into our world. People need this now more than ever.
1-Be mindful of how you park your vehicle
While this may seem like a no brainer for most of us, it is still a a pain point for many. This story I am about to tell you actually happened to me in the Target parking lot, when I was a new mom.
Imagine being a new parent and coming of the store with your child in the pouring rain. You arrive to your car and the side of the car where the car seat goes has a car parked so close, there’s no way you can get the door open to snap the baby carrier back into the car. Now, it’s pouring rain and your baby is now screaming. You either have to crawl across the back seat of the car and lift the heavy infant seat into the connector in the car or go to a plan A or B. During all of this chaos, you are now soaking wet and your baby needs to nurse. Talk about a bad day that could’ve been avoided had someone been mindful of how they parked.
It costs nothing, but an extra second of your life to hold the door open for someone. This is one of the kindest gestures you can offer to someone.
3-Offer to take a shopping cart back for a stranger
This happens the most frequently when I am at Aldi’s. People offer me their quarter first and then offer to take my cart back for me. I am usually at the store alone with my toddler and I truly appreciate the gesture. Be on the lookout for moms and the elderly or maybe someone struggling in extreme hot or cold temperatures. If you are able to offer the gesture of taking someone’s cart back, I promise it will help them out tremendously and be much appreciated.
4-Be a respectful neighbor
This one is huge and entails more than just a friendly hello. We had a neighbor once who was a Purple Heart Recipient and I noticed he had a hard time mowing his ditch in this one particular spot. So, since I am able bodied, I would secretly mow it for him.
You don’t have to best best friends with your neighbors, but find out more about them so you know what being a nice neighbor might mean to them. If your neighbor has young children, be mindful of your noise levels or barking dogs past a certain time in the evenings. If your neighbor is elderly, check on them from time to time. If you have a neighbor who is alone a lot, invite them over for something simple like tea.
5-Celebrate the achievements of others
A very sweet stranger reached out to me this year after I was announced the Fort Sill Military Spouse of the Year. She wanted to make sure I was noticed and celebrated. This complete stranger went to great lengths to set up a small ceremony in my honor. I can’t tell you how much this meant to me.
Isn’t it fun to have others celebrate you? Then, start doing it for others! This could be your spouse, your neighbor, your coworkers, friends, your children, etc. Being appreciated and noticed goes a long way and the impact can be long lasting.
6-Be the inviter
Be quick to invite others. I have spent so much of my life alone in military life, inviting others comes so easy to me. In fact, one invitation may be just what someone else needs to get them out of their house and out of a lonely place. Be the one to invite and do it more than once.
7-Advocate for positive change
I lived in a community once that did not have ramp access at the other side of a crosswalk. If you were a biker or in a wheelchair, you had to go up a block, in the road, in order to get back up to safety on the sidewalk. So, I began writing to the city council for months. When a new mayor took office, I continued my advocacy. Finally, it happened! A ramp was placed at the other side of the crosswalk, which could enhance access and life for so many.
Next time you see something in your community that needs to be fixed, don’t walk past it or ignore it, do something about it. This could be as simple as a broken street light or as large as a park that needs renovation. The point is, communities get better when there are people in them who care and who are advocating for those changes to occur. Be the person your community needs.
It costs nothing to smile. In fact, it takes more muscles to frown and burns more calories when you smile. A smile is contagious too, so offer yours to others.
I have been a military spouse for almost 7 years now and I have had my fair share of being the new one. The most comfort I have ever received was from a new friend at a new duty station. She welcomed me there with open arms. I call her my “yes” friend because she always said yes when I invited her to do things. She also showed me around to all the hot spots in the area and made my move less painful in a brand new place.
The lesson in this is, be that welcoming face to someone else. A friendly welcome can ease the anxiety, fear, and loneliness of someone else. Whether it is a new person in your neighborhood or a new person at work, be welcoming.
10-Put your shopping cart back
Always, always, always, put your shopping cart away when you are finished with it. Not only does this show respect to those who have to gather all the carts periodically, but it also prevents the wind from blowing them into someone’s car and damaging it. Carts that are not in their proper place can take up a parking space that someone may have desperately needed at the time. Think of someone disabled and the only parking space available has carts in it or a single mom who has to run into a store with her children in tow.
If we all realize that we are on this planet with others and keep that in mind as we go about our day, it is easy to be mindful and live in harmony with those around us. All we can do is our part and hopefully that kindness will spread to others and keep going. Just be a good human, our world surely could use it.
© Strength 4 Spouses LLC, 2022.