When was the last time that you went to the grocery store, airport, video store, bank, or any other place where you are “waited on”, and the person working behind the counter failed to say, “hello” and “thank you”? Sadly, I bet it wasn’t long ago.

I’m only 28 and I’ve noticed the erosion of our politeness over the past ten years. Surely there are those reading this who remember the fifties and sixties can recall far greater changes.

Is it a coincidence that our world seems more violent and the gap between the rich and the poor continues to grow in a time where the simplest of courtesies seems to have become too much for us bother with? I don’t think so.

In a world of emails and instant messaging, something as simple as talking to each other has become increasingly rare. While the world is “smaller” somehow being able to communicate with anyone in the world has made us less effective at communicating with those we are closest to. Call me crazy, but I don’t think that our failure to communicate well with each other is unrelated to the 50%+ divorce rate or the large disparity between rich and poor. If we all felt more connected to each other, cared more about each other, I truly believe these problems would improve.

So what can you?

Well what we can’t do is allow the sheer size of the situation to overwhelm us so much that we do nothing. Rather we need to use the strategy of divide and conquer. It will take lots of people doing little things to turn things around. Little things like hugs, smiles and laughter.

I remember well a day a few years ago when I decided that I would try to do a random act of kindness for someone. I was in line at the grocery store and the lady in front of me had only two items (toilet paper and a bottle of pop as I remember) so I offered to pay for her order along with mine, just to be nice. I told the lady at the register that she could just add the other lady’s order to mine.

What was the lady’s reaction? She freaked! She became defensive and frightened, as if there must have an ulterior motive for my being nice. Rather than being appreciative, she was suspicious, and would not allow me to pay the two or three dollars.

At first when I retold that story to friends and family I laughed. I thought the lady’s reaction was pretty funny. But as time passed and I retold the story, I realized her reaction was actually really sad. This poor woman had become so jaded that the idea that a stranger would do something nice for her, “just because” was incomprehensible.

In Black & White
There are hundreds of things that each of us can do to make a difference in the world. Some are large, but many are small. The following are just a few suggestions for what you can do to make the world a little better for someone else:

Hug someone - I would recommend someone you know, but whatever works for you.

Smile at a stranger - Do something nice for someone just because. Sure some people will think that you’re weird, but I’d rather be weird than apathetic.

Mow a Lawn or Shovel a Driveway – The next time you’re out doing chores, do your neighbours work too. They’re sure to be appreciative and the small gesture will likely strengthen your relationship with your neighbour.

Author's Bio: 

Mark Black is a professional motivational speaker. He has spoken to thousands of people from Halifax to Vancouver and all points in between. If your corporation, association or service club needs a speaker for an event, consider Mark. To learn more, go to Mark’s website: www.MarkBlackSpeaks.com or Email: Mark@MarkBlackSpeaks.com