15 things to do when the world feels terrifying.

Small things you can do every day to make your world feel a little bit less hopeless.

Laquan MacDonald was 17 when he was murdered by a Chicago police officer. I watched a video of his death made public, along with most of America, between reading about how Americans are terrified to let refugees from war-torn Syria into our country, and reading about how a man with a rifle opened fire at a Planned Parenthood in Colorado.

I couldn't think of anything else to say that hadn't already been said about how horrible and sad and awful and bleak and unfathomable all those things are.


So instead, here are 15 things you can do every day to make your world just the tiniest bit better.

1. Open your closet.

Find one warm piece of clothing you haven't worn in awhile. Bring it to a place that will give it away, for free, to someone who needs it.

2. Go to a public park or playground. Sit on a bench.

Watch some kids running around playing. Don't get up and try to engage with them, don't depress yourself further, don't go down a sadhole if you want kids but don't have them, or if your own relationship with your kids or parents isn't perfect. Just … sit and watch. Turn your brain off for a bit.

Photo via iStock.

If your brain has to work, picture the way that a kid's body works: the air filling the lungs and expelling laughter, the tiny heartbeat pulsing and racing, the immense number of neurons firing to process the information that keeps their eyes blinking and ears listening and skin tingling and lungs expanding and contracting.

If you see a parent looking stressed out, give them an encouraging smile, as if to say, "You're doing a great job."

3. Think of a song you love, preferably by a non-super-famous musician.

Even if you already own it, download it again. Think about how your 99 cents is actually telling the musician that their work has value.

4. Buy an e-gift card.

There are several Dunkin' Donuts in the general area of Sullivan House High School, the alternative school in Chicago's South Side where Laquan MacDonald was enrolled. It's probably been a tough time for the teachers and the students both. Buy an e-gift card, and send the link to the faculty. Tell them a stranger bought them coffee.

5. Google a small business florist near the site of any recent tragedy.

Call and explain that you'd like to pay for flowers to be sent to, say, the staff of the Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs (3480 Centennial Boulevard, Colorado Springs, CO 80907) or to Hope Church (5740 Academy Blvd N, Colorado Springs, CO 80918), where slain police officer Garrett Swasey and his family were members.

Folk expressed their emotions following the Boston bombing by mailing thousands of flower bouquets to the city and bringing them to the sites of the explosions. Photo by Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images

When you leave a note, don't make it about you, or your political or religious beliefs. Leave it anonymous or simply say, "From a stranger who thought you might be sad today."

6. Leave a copy of your favorite book in a public place.

Trust that the right person will find it.

7. Locate your nearest animal shelter.

You don't need to adopt a pet, and you don't need go in and volunteer, although that's a really nice thing you can do too. You can just look at the puppies and kittens playing for awhile or feel what it's like to hold a tiny, furry, purring creature in your arms for a bit.

9. Think of the kindest person you know personally.

Write them an email, letting them know that you thought of them and hope they are doing well.

Photo via iStock.

8. Here's a link to Amazon, where you can buy a 10-pack of socks for $9.99.

Click the link. When you're asked for your shipping address, find the address of a homeless shelter in your community. If you don't have a homeless shelter in your community, here's mine.

10. Buy an extra box of tampons the next time you're out shopping.

Leave them in the ladies' room of your workplace for anyone to take. (If you're a dude and this weirds you out, talk to this 15-year-old kid about it).

11. Think about the people that you frequently interact with in your daily life but know very little about.

Maybe it's the barista who works at your coffee shop, the janitor in your building, or your mail person. Introduce yourself. Call them by name whenever you see them again.

12. Go to a diner.

Order a milkshake. Tip 10 dollars.

Photo via iStock.

13. Buy a pile of index cards and a sharpie.

Write down, "You are Important" or "Breathe." Carry them with you as you go about your day, leaving them in waiting room magazines, on car windshields, in elevators, in bathroom stalls. Keep one for yourself. We all need the reminder sometimes too.

14. Dig up an embarrassing photo of yourself from your teenage years.

Post it online. Laugh gently at the person you were, and celebrate the human you are now. If you're still in the process of living through your teenage years, take lots of pictures. You're doing great.

15. Think. Think about the fact that the world can sometimes feel like a flaming cesspool of garbage.

Think about everyone in your zip code who is homeless and hungry, cold, terrified, and lonely. Think about global warming, handguns and assault rifles, violence on television, rape statistics, domestic abuse. Think about terrorism, both domestic and abroad. Think about petty cruelty. Think about your childhood schoolyard bully. Think about the times that you won the argument but lost the friendship.

Think about all the times you got too busy and didn't visit your relatives like you said you would or didn't give the dollar in the checkout line because times are rough and who even knows what the March of Dimes is. Think about how you don't want to think about who grows your food or makes your clothes or pieces your iPhone together, because in the world we inhabit, it's virtually impossible to exist without making some kind of ethical compromises.

Think about the 7 billion other people people out there in the world. Think about the average 318,000 births today or the 133,000 deaths.

Think about how enormously complicated all of this is.

Think about how Mother Teresa accepted funds from corrupt embezzlers, how George Bush is an oil painter, a husband, a father, and a war criminal. Think about Princess Diana's life's work of charity and goodwill; remember also that she was depressed, lived through bulimia, and self-harmed. Name five celebrities, and then imagine them in the morning, with horse breath and red-rimmed eyes, stumbling to splash water on their face, just like you and me.

And remember, amidst all this, there are tons of incredibly easy, tiny ways to make the world a slightly less shitty place for everyone.

Take a deep breath of gratitude for the people out there who actually do make the world a better place. Challenge yourself to be that person, in whatever small way you can manage right now.

Photo via iStock.

Close your browser window. Shut down your laptop. Silence your cell phone. Just for a minute, before you go back to Netflix, before you text someone, before you answer more emails or meet friends for drinks or order a pizza or whatever it is that you're doing today: Just for a second, take a moment to remember that the world can be pretty magical sometimes, and you're really lucky to be alive in it.

Do what you can.

More
Youtube

Should a man lose his home because the grass in his yard grew higher than 10 inches? The city of Dunedin, Florida seems to think so.

According to the Institute of Justice, which is representing Jim Ficken, he had a very good reason for not mowing his lawn – and tried to rectify the situation as best he could.

In 2014, Jim's mom became ill and he visited her often in South Carolina to help her out. When he was away, his grass grew too long and he was cited by a code office; he cut the grass and wasn't fined.

France has started forcing supermarkets to donate food instead of throwing it away.

But several years later, this one infraction would come back to haunt him after he left to take care of him's mom's affairs after she died. The arrangements he made to have his grass cut fell through (his friend who he asked to help him out passed away unexpectedly) and that set off a chain reaction that may result in him losing his home.

The 69-year-old retiree now faces a $29,833.50 fine plus interest. Watch the video to find out just what Jim is having to deal with.

Mow Your Lawn or Lose Your House! www.youtube.com

Cities

The world officially loves Michelle Obama.

The former first lady has overtaken the number one spot in a poll of the world's most admired women. Conducted by online research firm YouGov, the study uses international polling tools to survey people in countries around the world about who they most admire.

In the men's category, Bill Gates took the top spot, followed by Barack Obama and Jackie Chan.

In the women's category, Michelle Obama came first, followed by Oprah Winfrey and Angelina Jolie. Obama pushed Jolie out of the number one spot she claimed last year.

Unsurprising, really, because what's not to love about Michelle Obama? She is smart, kind, funny, accomplished, a great dancer, a devoted wife and mother, and an all-around, genuinely good person.

She has remained dignified and strong in the face of rabid masses of so-called Americans who spent eight years and beyond insisting that she's a man disguised as a woman. She's endured non-stop racist memes and terrifying threats to her family. She has received far more than her fair share of cruelty, and always takes the high road. She's the one who coined, "When they go low, we go high," after all.

She came from humble beginnings and remains down to earth despite becoming a familiar face around the world. She's not much older than me, but I still want to be like Michelle Obama when I grow up.

Her memoir, Becoming, may end up being the best-selling memoir of all time, having already sold 10 million copies—a clear sign that people can't get enough Michelle, because there's no such thing as too much Michelle.

Don't like Michelle Obama? Don't care. Those of us who love her will fly our MO flags high and without apology, paying no mind to folks with cold, dead hearts who don't know a gem of a human being when they see one. There is nothing any hater can say or do to make us admire this undeniably admirable woman any less.

When it seems like the world has lost its mind—which is how it feels most days these days—I'm just going to keep coming back to this study as evidence that hope for humanity is not lost.

Here. Enjoy some real-life Michelle on Jimmy Kimmel. (GAH. WHY IS SHE SO CUTE AND AWESOME. I can't even handle it.)

Michelle & Barack Obama are Boring Now www.youtube.com

Most Shared
via EarthFix / Flickr

What will future generations never believe that we tolerated in 2019?

Dolphin and orca captivity, for sure. They'll probably shake their heads at how people died because they couldn't afford healthcare. And, they'll be completely mystified at the amount of food some people waste while others go starving.

According to Biological Diversity, "An estimated 40 percent of the food produced in the United States is wasted every year, costing households, businesses and farms about $218 billion annually."

There are so many things wrong with this.

First of all it's a waste of money for the households who throw out good food. Second, it's a waste of all of the resources that went into growing the food, including the animals who gave their lives for the meal. Third, there's something very wrong with throwing out food when one in eight Americans struggle with hunger.

Supermarkets are just as guilty of this unnecessary waste as consumers. About 10% of all food waste are supermarket products thrown out before they've reached their expiration date.

Three years ago, France took big steps to combat food waste by making a law that bans grocery stores from throwing away edible food.According to the new ordinance, stores can be fined for up to $4,500 for each infraction.

Previously, the French threw out 7.1 million tons of food. Sixty-seven percent of which was tossed by consumers, 15% by restaurants, and 11% by grocery stores.

This has created a network of over 5,000 charities that accept the food from supermarkets and donate them to charity. The law also struck down agreements between supermarkets and manufacturers that prohibited the stores from donating food to charities.

"There was one food manufacturer that was not authorized to donate the sandwiches it made for a particular supermarket brand. But now, we get 30,000 sandwiches a month from them — sandwiches that used to be thrown away," Jacques Bailet, head of the French network of food banks known as Banques Alimentaires, told NPR.

It's expected that similar laws may spread through Europe, but people are a lot less confident at it happening in the United States. The USDA believes that the biggest barrier to such a program would be cost to the charities and or supermarkets.

"The logistics of getting safe, wholesome, edible food from anywhere to people that can use it is really difficult," the organization said according to Gizmodo. "If you're having to set up a really expensive system to recover marginal amounts of food, that's not good for anybody."

Plus, the idea may seem a little too "socialist" for the average American's appetite.

"The French version is quite socialist, but I would say in a great way because you're providing a way where they [supermarkets] have to do the beneficial things not only for the environment, but from an ethical standpoint of getting healthy food to those who need it and minimizing some of the harmful greenhouse gas emissions that come when food ends up in a landfill," Jonathan Bloom, the author of American Wasteland, told NPR.

However, just because something may be socialist doesn't mean it's wrong. The greater wrong is the insane waste of money, damage to the environment, and devastation caused by hunger that can easily be avoided.

Planet

The world is dark and full of terrors, but every once in a while it graces us with something to warm our icy-cold hearts. And that is what we have today, with a single dad who went viral on Twitter after his daughter posted the photos he sent her when trying to pick out and outfit for his date. You love to see it.




After seeing these heartwarming pics, people on Twitter started suggesting this adorable man date their moms. It was essentially a mom and date matchmaking frenzy.

Keep Reading Show less
Family