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10 free yet impactful ways you can make the world a better place

The actions outlined on this list are not an excuse to ignore donating money to worthy causes and not volunteer. I hope you regularly donate to causes you want to support. Our words and actions can only go so far. At the end of the day, money is what funds projects, initiatives, and relief efforts. Nevertheless, I hope you incorporate the following list into your daily routine, for everything outlined below doesn’t cost a single cent to implement:

Say thank you

Appreciation for a good job done makes a difference. Scientific studies have revealed that thanking a new acquaintance makes them more likely to seek an ongoing relationship. A thank you, and gratitude in general, also leads to improved physical health, improved psychological health, enhanced empathy and reduced aggression, better sleep, improved self-esteem, increased mental strength, and the ability to see through walls (alright that last one I made up, but the rest are scientifically backed).

Say sorry

People are willing to die for honor, regardless of how illogical their reasoning may be. Saying sorry, even when it’s ambiguous as to who’s really at fault, leads to rebuilding scarred relationships.

Smile

Self-development gurus including Dale Carnegie and Leil Lowndes devote entire chapters in their books on elaborating about the positive power of smiling. I say, it’s time we go the mile with a smile (I’ve never been prouder of myself for thinking up that line).

Give out genuine compliments without expecting anything in return

When we meet someone new, the only two thoughts that are crossing their mind are: “What does this person want?” and “How long are they going to take?”. In a world full of “what can you do for me?”, it’s refreshing to meet someone who just gives without expecting anything in return, and importantly, doesn’t sacrifice their own well-being in the process.

Hold the door open, let people into your lane while driving, and defer your priority when the elderly are involved

These three things are so easy do, yet they’re lost on most people. It’s not asking for much to hold the door open for a few extra seconds to help someone get through. Being one car’s length behind because you let someone in is worth it so they don’t have to wait minutes on end trying to merge into that lane. The elderly are oftentimes slow and frail. They require extra patience because of how vulnerable they are. But there’s a reason why they say societies are judged by how they treat their elderly.

Make it cleaner than when you came

People oftentimes leave messes wherever they go. Not only is this an eyesore, it’s a safety hazard, health risk, and an unnecessary inconvenience. Might as well clean up after ourselves when we go somewhere public in order to promote a community that’s clean, healthy, and safe.

Give advice, references, and recommendations

You have a lot to offer the world, and most people are willing to listen to you. If they say something and it inspires you to remember a resource that’ll benefit them, then by all means tell them about it. None of us know everything, but we do know things others don’t. It’s so easy to find ways to inform and educate the people we interact with by sharing and talking about the stuff we’re knowledgable on.

Your default response in conversation must be related to positivity, optimism, and hope

Negative people suck. They alienate others and bring people down with their misery. Better to be a good influence to people and promote a brighter future. Being positive, optimistic, and hopeful is also an attractive quality to have, as people gravitate toward those who make them feel better.

The good need our vocal support. Leave the bad alone to self-destruct

In my opinion, most of the evils out there are on sinking ships. Bad people dig their own graves, and their actions almost always lead to their own demise. Better to devote our time, energy, and resources to promoting those who are enacting beneficial change in the world rather than attacking those who we disagree with.

Ask for help

People love helping other people and are oftentimes thrilled to give their assistance. It gives them authority, respect, a sense of community, and some degree of fulfillment. Asking for help on the surface sounds like the definition of taking, but as long as the other person doesn’t have to go out of their way to help, it’s not taking. Asking for things like a ride to the airport is taking because it inconveniences the other person. But asking for advice, insight, and opinions of someone else is not taking, and in fact by doing so, both parties win.

Conclusion

Doing good isn’t just about what’s right. It’s actually what we all should be doing anyway, for it leads us to be healthier and the world we live in to be better off. I hope this list informs as well as highlights some of the simple yet effective ways we can all bring a beneficial impact to the communities we rely on.

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Always aim to be 99.7% perfect, not 100%

It’s almost always better to strive not for 100% perfection but for 99.7% completion. At Facebook, they work by the mantra that “done is better than perfect”. The implications of this are huge: when they create a product, they don’t waste time perfecting it and fixing every bug. Instead they get it out there as fast as they can appropriately accomplish in order to be able to invest their time into the next project. Also, I learned growing up that in Ancient Greece, whenever a building was completed, the architect would create a tiny dent on one of the columns so as to not anger the Gods by making a perfect masterpiece which would’ve been viewed as a threat and challenge to those deities living on Mount Olympus. When I first heard this story I thought it was stupid and I was surprised this practice came from the Ancient Greeks, a people who gave us democracy, philosophy, and baklava. But as I grew older, I realized there really is merit to this odd practice. Appeasing the Gods hid the psychology behind being 99.7% instead of 100%: striving for 100% risks negative consequences and side effects, including obsession, wasting time, backtracking, and frustration. But most importantly, so many of these endeavors we apply ourselves too are actually impossible to attain 100%, for even if we happen to achieve 100% we won’t even know it, and instead, we’re left consuming ourselves with something that has no end.

The monkey and the peas

A monkey was carrying two handful of peas. One little pea dropped out. He tried to pick it up, and spilt twenty. He tried to pick up the twenty, and spilt them all. Then he lost his temper, scattered the peas in all directions, and ran away.

-Fables, Leo Tolstoy

99.7% is the sweet spot

In high school statistics class, we learned the 68-95-99.7 rule for normal distributions. A normal distribution is shaped like a bell curve. The 68-95-99.7 rule means that approximately 68% of the observations fall within 1 standard deviation of the mean, approximately 95% of observations fall within 2 standard deviations of the mean, and approximately 99.7% of observations fall within 3 standard deviations of the mean. The implication of this in statistics is that it’s empirically useful to treat 99.7% probability as near certainty. While a direct correlation cannot necessarily tie this with how we decide to live our lives, it’s representative of a bigger lesson: working with 99.7% of something is even better than engaging in the fruitless endeavor of reaching 100%.

Empirical_Rule-2

With most projects we work on, attaining 100% is quite literally a never-ending process and a wild goose chase that risks consuming more of our lives than appropriate. As stated earlier, we may have even accomplished 100%, but we don’t know it because we’re never sure if there’s something else we could’ve done better. We become mired in a downward spiral that eventually backfires and becomes self-destructive. By attaining 99.7%, we allow ourselves the freedom to feel confident we came up with a fantastic product, as well as permit ourselves the ability to disengage from it.

Many people see themselves as perfectionists and keep working away at something even when they pass the point where minor improvements they make simply aren’t worth their time anymore. Time is the most valuable, limited, and powerful resource on the planet, for no matter if we are a billionaire or a baby, the amount of time we are alive is limited and deviates relatively little from an average life expectancy. Therefore, reaching perfection might just mean not being perfect, but instead may mean being 99.7% there. By leaving an insignificant room for error, we enable ourselves to invest our time into stuff that’s more important.

Conclusion

Obsessing over being 100% perfect and going through countless revisions leads, to stress, strain, and losing the ability to be satisfied. When we do something and allow for one or two mistakes, we become liberated from our work and gain the freedom to move on. As seen in statistics, 99.7% is enough to be considered the most meaningful amount we should work with. If we strive and obtain 100%, we risk being struck by a lightning bolt from Zeus. Therefore, the best way of going about anything in life is to aim for 99.7% perfection, which is even better than being 100% perfect.