Whenever I went camping as a Boy Scout, they would always tell us to “Leave this place better than you found it.” Some people would visit the campsite and leave plenty of trash behind, but not us. Not only would we take out everything we brought in, but we’d pick up some of the trash that other people had left. We always left the campsite better than we found it.
Now, what if we took that idea and expanded it? What if every time we came in contact with another person, we decided to leave them better than we found them? Meaning that not only would we not add to their troubles, but we’d make sure that they’d walk away feeling better than they did before. Imagine if everyone resolved to do that! And it’s really not hard.
How to not bring trash in
Last year I was reading an article about how much people complain every day, and I decided to do a little experiment. I was going to see how far through the day I could go before I heard someone complain. I didn’t even make it to work before it happened! I got on the elevator with a coworker, who started off the day by complaining about four ridiculous things.
I’m not saying that we shouldn’t point out things that need to be corrected, or talk about how we can improve things. But I was really surprised when I realized how much we whine about things that we can’t change and which don’t matter anyway. Why do we need to actively contribute to each other’s misery?
When you’re talking to someone, ask yourself if you think they really want to hear you complain about traffic, or the weather, or gas prices. If the answer is no, then maybe you don’t need to do it. The same goes for telling people how bad they are at something, or how they’re going to fail at something, or anything that makes them worse off for having spoken to you. Keep your trash to yourself.
How to take trash out
Besides not putting the other person in a worse mood, we can also do what we can to put them in a better mood. This actually takes less effort than being a jerk, so you might as well do it.
People usually like to talk about themselves. Ask them how they’re doing. Ask them how their family is doing, using their names if you know them. Think about something they said they were going to do, and ask how it went. If you just show an interest, they’ll do most of the work in responding.
Listen to what they say, and ask follow-up questions. Compliment and congratulate them, and show that you care. This is just being human, and it’s not hard at all. But it’s amazing how much effect this can have on their mood.
If everyone left the great outdoors better than they found it, the environmental impact would be huge. Likewise, if everyone left people better than they found them, there’s no telling how big the repercussions could be.
Leaving people better than you found them might seem like something you should just do as a decent human being, and that’s true. But actually, it benefits you as well. When people realize that they feel better after talking to you (and worse after talking to some other people), they’ll want that to continue. They’ll also want to reciprocate.
Do enough to put people in a better mood, and you’ll soon find that everyone wants to do the same for you. Make people glad to be around you, and it’s inevitable that you’ll be rewarded.
Hunter Nuttall wants you to stop sucking and live a life of abundance. Visit his site to learn how to improve your life and your income.
Image by isado.