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  • Writer's pictureBurk Moreland

Get A Jump On The Nice List

Christmas and New Year’s were barely cold when the Valentine’s Day paraphernalia took over store shelves. And chances are on February 15, the bright red hearts will give way to pastel-colored Easter eggs. Our kids have forgotten the good behavior they exhibited when hopes of staying off the Naughty List were high, and statistics say most of us have already given up on our resolutions.

We start the year with the best intentions, but all too quickly get sucked into the day-to-day distractions, racing around on our hamster wheels. We think we’re getting somewhere, but come the end of 2014, will we really have made any differnce? If we slow down a bit and learn to keep our focus on what’s most important, the answer can be a resounding YES!

My main mission in life is to have a positive impact on all I encounter.

My main mission in life is to have a positive impact on all I encounter. This has come back to me in positive ways I could never have imagined. When the thought first presented itself, I had no idea the far-reaching effects I would cause or the lives I would change, the biggest one being my own.

I have always been a confident person, but was never really mindful of the ripple effect I caused around me. I took care of my immediate circle, but didn’t really take notice of much outside of that. Despite being brought up in the South — where politeness is a way of life and Yes ma’am, No sir are just common courtesy for those around you, regardless of age — taking it to the next level and engaging with people outside my normal spheres was not on my menu. I shut out most of the rest of the world for fear of rejection or many times just laziness.

So, while it does not come naturally to me, in the last few years I have made an effort to engage anyone I can. By engage I mean create an environment that makes it easy and natural for two people to acknowledge each other’s existence on earth. It is as simple as a friendly smile or a polite “pardon me” or “thank you.” It can evolve into asking, “How are you today?” and then pausing and looking at them with interest instead of using it as a blow-off question that really is just another way of saying hello. I had no idea how many people I encounter on a daily basis. Worse yet, I had no idea how many people walk through life as if none of the rest of us exists. What a tragedy.

My results have been nothing short of astounding. The effect I have had on people I didn’t even know has been beyond anything I would have every dreamed. On multiple occasions, people have looked at me and said I made their day by just saying thank you to someone in a thankless job (recently a TSA agent at the airport for instance). I love to see people smile at me as I walk by them smiling and saying “good morning.” The gratitude I get from people for doing something as simple as letting them go first in line or simply helping them put their luggage in the overhead bin on an airplane. Once I got started, I found an enormous number of opportunities to have a positive impact.

Many people experience the overload effect when they think about what needs to be done to make the world a better place. The reaction is to shut down and do nothing rather than at least attempt something. Don’t let the boundless opportunities stop you from doing any of them. Pick one or two and do them! That will spark others to do the same, and the effect of each of us doing something is multiplied. Imagine a society where everyone is looking out for everyone else. A bit utopic I know, but I am an optimist.

Technology, busy-ness, and frankly, fear encourage us to have as little direct human contact as possible. Let’s challenge that. Look for opportunities to engage — they are there. Then act! Do something with what you are given and ask nothing in return. Pull yourself off of your normal track and try something new. As with anything, you might just love the results.

Wouldn’t it be great if all of us made the effort to treat each other better? Think of it as getting a jump on this year’s Nice List.

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