The secret to truly understanding people? Meeting many different kinds and seeing what's universal.

Break out from your comfort zone and carpe diem.

There are a lot of people out there. Billions of them!

But here's a question for you: Is most of humankind actually kind?

It can be a tricky question. It seems simple, but the answer can get complicated — fast.


Image via Thinkstock.

Researchers were also curious about this kindness thing, so they conducted some interesting studies.

They found that when people thought about their own social circles, they said those people seemed pretty kind. But grow that circle to society in general, and the answer changes quickly.

Psychologists learned that when it comes to the big picture, people are more likely to view society in general as not so nice after all.

How can we change that cynicism?

Well, we can start by being curious. By getting out there. Asking questions. Chatting with strangers. Exploring. Challenging comfort zones. Carpe-ing the diem.

Thanks to increased connectivity, we have access to more people, ideas, and places than ever before. Finding the kindness in humankind just takes that one first step beyond our own walls.

Exploring our world brings out our empathy, too. Take it from Mark Twain.

He once said traveling "is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness."

We'd like to think he was telling us that traveling brings out the best in all of us. It helps us understand each other.

Image via Thinkstock.

Not to mention that discovering the world brings about new ideas, different perspectives, and a refreshing sense of self (and it's terrific for your health).

Exploring the world might help you to understand other perspectives.

Sometimes it can be tough to see the good in our world when a 24-hour news cycle is full of bad news. But in many vital ways, the world is actually becoming a much better place to live.

Who knows? Maybe you just need a trip to [insert bucket list destination here] to see it all from a different window than your own.

And another bonus: Finding the kindness in others might be contagious.

Want to start a revolution? We know that acts of kindness can inspire other acts of kindness.

Image via Thinkstock.

By taking one step out into the world, you could be inspiring empathy in people you don't even know.

Exploring your world can start now.

Just as long journeys begin with one step, goodness can be found in the next state (or even street) over — no new time zone required. After all, it's all about taking baby steps.

You just need to make the first move, like this adorable tot.


Let's get out there.

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Disney has come under fire for problematic portrayals of non-white and non-western cultures in many of its older movies. They aren't the only one, of course, but since their movies are an iconic part of most American kids' childhoods, Disney's messaging holds a lot of power.

Fortunately, that power can be used for good, and Disney can serve as an example to other companies if they learn from their mistakes, account for their misdeeds, and do the right thing going forward. Without getting too many hopes up, it appears that the entertainment giant may have actually done just that with the new Frozen II film.

According to NOW Toronto, the producers of Frozen II have entered into a contract with the Sámi people—the Indigenous people of the Scandinavian regions—to ensure that they portray the culture with respect.

RELATED: This fascinating comic explains why we shouldn't use some Native American designs.

Though there was not a direct portrayal of the Sámi in the first Frozen movie, the choral chant that opens the film was inspired by an ancient Sámi vocal tradition. In addition, the clothing worn by Kristoff closely resembled what a Sámi reindeer herder would wear. The inclusion of these elements of Sámi culture with no context or acknowledgement sparked conversations about cultural appropriation and erasure on social media.

Frozen II features Indigenous culture much more directly, and even addressed the issue of Indigenous erasure. Filmmakers Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck, along with producer Peter Del Vecho, consulted with experts on how to do that respectfully—the experts, of course, being the Sámi people themselves.

Sámi leaders met with Disney producer Peter Del Vecho in September 2019.Sámediggi Sametinget/Flickr

The Sámi parliaments of Norway, Sweden and Finland, and the non-governmental Saami Council reached out to the filmmakers when they found out their culture would be highlighted in the film. They formed a Sámi expert advisory group, called Verddet, to assist filmmakers in with how to accurately and respectfully portray Sámi culture, history, and society.

In a contract signed by Walt Disney Animation Studios and Sámi leaders, the Sámi stated their position that "their collective and individual culture, including aesthetic elements, music, language, stories, histories, and other traditional cultural expressions are property that belong to the Sámi," and "that to adequately respect the rights that the Sámi have to and in their culture, it is necessary to ensure sensitivity, allow for free, prior, and informed consent, and ensure that adequate benefit sharing is employed."

RELATED: This aboriginal Australian used kindness and tea to trump the racism he overheard.

Disney agreed to work with the advisory group, to produce a version of Frozen II in one Sámi language, as well as to "pursue cross-learning opportunities" and "arrange for contributions back to the Sámi society."

Anne Lájla Utsi, managing director at the International Sámi Film Institute, was part of the Verddet advisory group. She told NOW, "This is a good example of how a big, international company like Disney acknowledges the fact that we own our own culture and stories. It hasn't happened before."

"Disney's team really wanted to make it right," said Utsi. "They didn't want to make any mistakes or hurt anybody. We felt that they took it seriously. And the film shows that. We in Verddet are truly proud of this collaboration."

Sounds like you've done well this time, Disney. Let's hope such cultural sensitivity and collaboration continues, and that other filmmakers and production companies will follow suit.

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