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

Break out from your comfort zone and carpe diem.

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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 saidtraveling "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.

Education

12 books that people say are life-changing reads

Some books have the power to change how we see ourselves, the world, and each other.

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Books are powerful.

As a participant in the Amazon Associates affiliate program, Upworthy may earn proceeds from items purchased that are linked to this article, at no additional cost to you.

Out of all human inventions, books might just be the greatest. That may be a bold statement in the face of computers, the internet and the international space station, but none of those things would be possible without books. The written recording of human knowledge has allowed our advancements in learning to be passed on through generations, not to mention the capturing of human creativity in the form of longform storytelling.

Books have the power to change our lives on a fundamental level, shift our thinking, influence our beliefs, put us in touch with our feelings and help us understand ourselves and one another better.

That's why we asked Upworthy's audience to share a book that changed their life. Thousands of responses later, we have a list of inspiring reads that rose to the top.

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Community

Man uses social media to teach others ASL so kids don't experience what he did as a child

Every child should be able to communicate in a way that works best for them.

Man teaches people ASL so no child experiences what he did

People start communicating from the moment they enter the world usually through cries, faces, grunts and squeals. Once infants move into the toddler phase the combine all of their previous communication skills with pointing and saying a few frequently used words like "milk," "mama," "dada" and "eat."

Children who are born without the ability to hear often still go through those same stages with the exception of their frequently used words being in sign language. But not all hearing parents know sign language, which can stunt the language skills of their non-hearing child. Ronnie McKenzie is an American Sign Language advocate that uses social media to teach others how to sign so deaf and nonverbal kids don't feel left out.

"But seriously i felt so isolated 50% of my life especially being outside of school i had NONE to sign ASL with. Imagine being restricted from your own language," McKenzie writes in his caption.

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Family

Wife says husband's last name is so awful she can't give it to her kids. Is she right?

"I totally get we can’t shield kids from everything, and I understand the whole family ties thing, but c’mon."

A wife pleads with her husband to change their child's name.

Even though it’s 2023 and schools are much more concerned with protecting children from bullying than in the past, parents still have to be aware that kids will be kids, and having a child with a funny name is bound to cause them trouble.

A mother on Reddit is concerned that her future children will have the unfortunate last name of “Butt,” so she asked people on the namenerds forum to help her convince her husband to name their child something different.

(Note: We’re assuming that the person who wrote the post is a woman because their husband is interested in perpetuating the family name, and if it were a same-sex relationship, a husband probably wouldn’t automatically make that assumption.)

"My husband’s last name is Butt. Can someone please help me illuminate to him why this last name is less than ideal,” she asked the forum. “I totally get we can’t shield kids from everything and I understand the whole family ties thing, but c'mon. Am I being unreasonable by suggesting our future kid either take my name, a hybrid, or a new one altogether?"

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Joy

Bus driver comes to the rescue for boy who didn't have an outfit for school's Pajamas Day

“It hurt me so bad…I wanted him to have a good day. No child should have to miss out on something as small as pajama day.”

Representative Image from Canva

One thoughtful act can completely turn someone's day around.

On the morning just before Valentine’s Day, school bus driver Larry Farrish Jr. noticed something amiss with Levi, one of his first grade passengers, on route to Engelhard Elementary, part of Jefferson County Public School (JCPS) in Louisville, Kentucky.

On any other day, the boy would greet Farrish with a smile and a wave. But today, nothing. Levi sat down by himself, eyes downcast, no shining grin to be seen. Farrish knew something was up, and decided to inquire.

With a “face full of tears,” as described on the JCPS website, Levi told Farrish that today was “Pajama Day” at school, but he didn’t have any pajamas to wear for the special occasion.
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via Imgur

Memories of testing like this gets people fired up.

It doesn't take much to cause everyone on the internet to go a little crazy, so it's not completely surprising that an incorrect answer on a child's math test is the latest event to get people fired up.

The test in question asked kids to solve "5 x 3" using repeated addition. Under this method, the correct answer is "5 groups of 3," not "3 groups of 5." The question is typical of Common Core but has many questioning this type of standardized testing and how it affects learning.

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Image from YouTube video.

An emotional and strong Matt Diaz.


Matt Diaz has worked extremely hard to lose 270 pounds over the past six years.

But his proudest moment came in March 2015 when he decided to film himself with his shirt off to prove an important point about body positivity and self-love.

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