by Alex Storm @alexstormtmt
2016 is laid out in front of everyone and around the world people are gearing up for a fresh start. People are looking back at the conflicts and painful moments of 2015 and hoping for a better year. There’s one new year’s resolution that can make the year better for the whole world, and even if the whole world doesn’t take it on, it will improve the lives of every person who does.
That resolution is simple: Resolve to take every opportunity to kindly interact with people who are different from you. Interact with people of different races, ethnicities, socioeconomic statuses, and ages. This interaction doesn’t have to be planned, just take the opportunities where you see them.
For example, when you are in line at the grocery store, turn to the person behind you and smile, perhaps ask them how they are doing. When you reach the clerk, make eye contact, smile, ask them how their day is, and say thank you after they finish ringing you up. If you are in a meeting, sit next to a person you don’t know well and get to know them better. When you see a homeless man, don’t just hand them money without making eye contact. Make eye contact and tell him to have a good day. When you’re walking down the street and feel a tinge of discomfort because someone different is walking toward you, instead of looking down, make eye contact and say hello. Each time you have an opportunity for an interaction with someone, do your best to be positive, but most importantly take advantage of the opportunity to interact with a person who is different.
This sounds simple for sure. However, many people consciously or unconsciously avoid these interactions, and they are extremely important. Research has shown that it only takes a few positive interactions with people of different nationalities or cultures for humans to build empathy. No matter how brief the interaction, you and the person you are interacting with can build a little empathy towards each other’s groups. The more our world can build empathy towards the ‘other’, the less hate we will have, and the better equipped we will be for solving conflicts.
This one new year’s resolution can help you contribute to a better world. No matter how many different people you are able to interact with, each and every one with whom you share a brief positive moment will take all of us closer to ending 2016 on a more loving, peaceful note.