Huh, what a question? Where to start you might think. And I agree with you. This article won’t give the ultimate answer. It is an opinion piece and I want you to reflect and be critical as always.
At first, the title of this article was “How can we make the world a better place?”. But it is not we who can make a difference it is the individual. Many individual choices will then make a big difference. If we start with “we” we set expectations towards others and how they should think and act. That strategy is flawed in my opinion, because we can only control what we do.
That is also why the first, and in my opinion the best, way to make the world a better place is to start with ourselves. How well do I know myself? What makes me happy? How truly happy am I with my life and myself? There are at least a thousand other questions in this direction. Bottom line, it is about understanding and loving who we are. On the surface you might find questions such as “Why do I want to be rich or famous?“, “Why do I need and want a big house and car?“, “Why do I need the fanciest clothes or the newest gadgets?“, “Why do I always want everything right now?“, “Why is so important for me what others think about me?“, “Why do I always need to be right and perfect?“, “Why do I have problems being vulnerable and showing my true self?“, and the list goes on.
I am convinced that we can alleviate most of the problems when we start to ask AND answering those questions. I think that once we understand and love ourselves we will decrease greed, the need for status, jealousy, and hate. We will start to live more mindful and minimalistic which might lead to a decrease in waste we produce. We might also question our relationship with our jobs. Why do we work 60 hours a week? To buy a big house? But chances are that when you work so much your relationships will suffer and then you might end up in a beautiful but empty house.
Understanding and loving who we are, is the foundation to truly understand and love others. Because then we can forgive more easily. When we know about our own flaws and struggles, it is easier to demonstrate indulgence and patience. We don’t ask how they could be so stupid or mean, but instead we ask what happened to them and why they did what they did.
How else could the world be improved? For me it is an iterative process that starts with knowing and loving yourself first. Then, we can start to think about the culture in our companies. Yes, I know that there are already companies out there who take good care of their culture, but they are still the exception than the rule. The biggest change companies have to perform is to understand that employees are customers, too. Companies go to great length to make their customers happy, meaning those who buy the products or services. Employees are often seen as a resource or even as the single biggest cost factor that needs to be managed. I once wrote an article that I am more than just a number. People spend most parts of their lives at work. How they are treated has therefore a major impact on their lives.
There is so much more, but I guess it is a good time to stop now. It is easier to start changing others. At least so we think. We know how difficult it is to come to terms with ourselves. But this is the single most important thing you and I can do to make the world a better place. So, let’s start with that. If you struggle with the how, write me or let’s start a dialogue in the comments. I am interested in hearing what you think about it.
Take care, Stephan