Several months ago I was sitting in my car and observed a young man who looked to be in his early twenties getting ready to walk into an apartment building across the street from me to deliver newspapers. The look on his face was intense and serious and I wondered what his story was. We are all under a great deal of stress today, but our young people are feeling it so intensely as they are at a time in their lives when they are trying to figure out who they are and what their place is in this challenging, depressing, confusing and also marvelous world. (Yes, I am still a hopeful believer in all of us.)

It looked to me like whatever was going on in his life, in this moment, was pretty darn important. So, I rolled down my window and said, “Go ‘head young brotha, get the job done!” He broke into the biggest smile, nodded his head and proceeded to go ahead and get the job done. That’s when this thought occurred to me…

What if that put him into a better mood and someone else has a great interaction with him and avoided unnecessary conflict?

That was just one small gesture on my part left to reverberate throughout the day. Then, I got excited and decided I wanted to come up with 20 small ways to do this that I could pass on to all of you.

So, here we go again:

  1. Encourage somebody today, preferably someone who is not expecting it.
  2. Catch yourself judging someone in your head and stop.
  3. Send a motivational text or email to someone who is struggling.
  4. Call someone you haven’t spoken to in a long time.
  5. Stop yourself from interrupting your child more than once when you are listening to them.
  6. Catch yourself being critical of someone and shift to find something positive.
  7. Pick one thing that you do that you know causes conflict and set a goal to stop doing it by the end of 2019.
  8. Say good morning every day to your family, neighbors, community members, co-workers, people who annoy you.
  9. Don’t take it personally if people don’t say good morning back.
  10. Breathe and pause before you say what you are really thinking and then phrase it differently.
  11. Listen longer and consider someone else’s perspective.
  12. Resist the urge to nag, nitpick or have the last word.
  13. Choose to stop trying to change the mind of someone who disagrees with you.
  14. Encourage yourself, your happiness changes those around you.
  15. Let one thing go that you have been holding against someone.
  16. Stop wishing for them to change. Your thoughts affect how you act toward them and just let them be.
  17. Catch yourself doing exactly what you said you wouldn’t do and own it.
  18. Laugh at yourself and say, ‘I can’t believe I said that, okay time to get help with that.’
  19. Teach your children how to apologize by apologizing to them more often.
  20. Remind yourself to stay in the present moment rather than project all the things that could go wrong in the future.
  21. Bonus: Catch yourself making assumptions about what someone else is thinking or why they did what they did and then stop.

If we all do even one of these consistently from now on, we can create a shift in the way we do conflict that will ultimately affect our worlds and then the world.

Think I am being too optimistic? Try it!

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