How to make this world a better place? Easy. Don’t be a jerk. Don’t be someone whom others find repulsive, annoying and negative. Don’t be that jerk who is immature, self-serving and inconsiderate. Don’t just think about yourself but spare a thought for others, always. And don’t think that you will see tangible results soon.
Making the world a better place is not like pulling a rabbit out of the hat. Presto! and the deed is done. The world would not be a better place overnight. It would not happen just because you decide to make it happen. So don’t unwittingly put the humongous burden all on your tiny shoulder (or on your humongous ego). It is not a glam race to be popular or adored. If you want to end up a celebrity making the world a better place, then forget about doing it. You will most probably end up more a jerk than a world-impacting icon in the likes of Nelson Mandela or Gandhi.
You must accept that making this world a better place is about changing yourself first. But don’t bang the cymbals or blow the trumpet about it. You don’t send emails out or tweet or Facebook about it. A better world is not about doing big acts (and getting big-time responses of awe) but it is about small consistent efforts. Mother Teresa says that we may not all do great things but we can do small things with great love. She has forgotten to mention the humdrum monotony involved with small things but I think it is implied.
So, it may very well start with taking out the trash, going on on a date with your wife more often, paying more attention to your son, walking your daughter to school, being more patient with the food court queue, being genuinely happy for the successes of your neighbors, or smiling more than usual. It is also a private affair between yourself and, well, yourself. Nobody has to know about it. It is a secret pact you make with quiet resolve and the reward is not instant media or friends’ recognition.
In fact, it is such a glacial process that it differs little from watching paint dry or waiting for a pond to evaporate out. The reward is therefore not immediate. The reward is not even immediately experiential. You will feel nothing. You might receive nothing for the first few years too. Not even a handshake of appreciation. At best, those close to you will sense a change, but they can’t put a finger on what has specifically changed.
So, have no illusions about making this world a better place. It is more than just an attitude change. It is a change of values, habits and perspective. It is a transformation of self by overturning (burying) it, not pampering (elevating) it.
This is how I see the betterment of this world. It starts with you no doubt. It starts today. Don’t make plans for it. Don’t shoo-it into your diary. Don’t announce it to friends and relatives. It starts with the most trivial differences that often no one notices. It starts with an inner resolve that no one sees. It is a change not for the sake of change. It cannot be fake because the circumstances of this world will sooner or later conspire to cause you to fall flat on your face if all your effort and time are just for show.
There is no rehearsals for you should you desire with beginner's enthusiasm to make this world a better place. You just plunge into it and make the difference. And the difference is how you treat yourself and others. You treat yourself with a healthy dose of self-respect, with modesty and decency, and with restrain, confidence and hope. You treat others the same way you treat yourself, with respect, consideration, confidence and hope. You become more understanding, open and forgiving. You let bygones be bygones and view mistakes as lessons to be learned.
But don’t be too idealistic about it because nasty people and ugly circumstances don’t suddenly disappear just because you’ve decided to make this world a better place. They thrive on making you fail. But they also exist as your target practice. They will try your patience no doubt and provoke you out of your skin. They will throw you off your groove and make you curse the day you first decided to change the world for good. This is where the real test comes in.
How you respond to them will test your sincerity and resolve to make this world a better place. If you are for real, authentic and steadfast, then you will valiantly claim back your groove and you will withstand their relentless mockery, taunts and assaults. In fact, you will even win some of them over with your fortified character and gracious goodwill. This is where you may get a little recognition and praise for your changed behavior.
But if along the process, you find it too inconvenient that giving up seems almost certain and inevitable, then take heart for you have not failed in making this world a better place. No siree. Don't get ahead of yourself. Failure is not the right description for this midstream abandonment. Because, if you think about it, how do you fail in something that you have not even genuinely started? How does one fail a test if he did not even sign up for it? So, seen from this angle, you had merely not gotten started, that’s all. Restart all over and try it for real this time round.
But if you think this “changing the world” stuff clearly cramps your style because it is too unglam and darn hard, then continue on whatever path you were trekking before you first decided to make this world a better place. In any case, changing this world for the better is unlike a day's catwalk on the fashion runway. You will not be missed and the world will not suffer any seismic changes just because you have decided to give it up for good. There will always be many others who will and have successfully taken up the task and persisted to the end. Their collective and consistent effort will make the pivotal difference and it will definitely off-set your half-hearted effort with net benefit to ricochet around for all, even to you.
So if being a jerk is far easier for you than changing the world for the better, than by all means keep it up. It’s your life and it's your business to live your life the way you want it anyway. Just don't stand in the way of those who happen to cross your path in the pursuit of the all-important goal you have given up. Just don't hinder their good effort. Come to think about it, that may just be the tiniest littlest part you play to contribute to making this world a better place. Consider it your consolatory pet on the back I guess. Cheerz.