Better Than You Found It

Beautiful, isn’t it? You can create the same beauty in the world right now.

Last week, I talked about how ridiculously hard it is for most people to live a life of consistent positivity.

If you’re one of the many people who are currently living a life of positivity, then you probably know how hard it can be. That’s why it’s worth saying it again:

Being negative is the easy route.

The real challenge in life is finding the inner strength to be positive enough to make the world a better place, even in the face of unrelenting negativity.

Since it is a challenge, my goal is to make living a positive life as easy as humanly possible for as many people as I can reach.

Last week, I shared three simple, but very powerful tips to stay consistently positive. This week, I’m going to take it a big step further by giving you one simple rule to instantly (yes, instantly) make the world a more positive place.

Anyone can do it, you don’t need any talent/skills/connections/education/etc, and most importantly, you can apply this rule the minute you’re done reading this blog post.

Sound good? Let’s get to it.

The #1 Rule of Positivity

This might sound simple, but the easiest way to make this world a better place is to commit to leaving everything better than how you found it.


Can you imagine how quickly the world would positively change if everyone committed to doing this everyday, in every interaction?

I believe that it’s possible.

The good news is that this doesn’t mean starting a worldwide non-profit organization, finding cures for previously incurable diseases, or finally solving that pesky world peace issue.

All that it takes is doing something to leave everything better than how you found it. It doesn’t matter how small the act is either, the only thing that matters is that you’re doing something.

Here are a few of literally millions of potential examples:

  • Pick up a piece of litter and put it in the trash.
  • If you see a car parked at an expired meter, put some spare change in it.
  • Whenever you’re at a grocery store, Starbucks, a restaurant, (etc.) take a minute to sincerely thank the person who is serving you.
  • Smile at a stranger.
  • Refill the coffee pot and/or the copier at work when they’re empty.
  • Refuse the urge to engage in spreading gossip, mean-spiritedness, and other mindless negativity.
  • Commit a random act of kindness.
  • Consistently say “please,” “thank you,” and “excuse me,” and never be one of those people who allows their moods to determine their manners.
  • Help someone who needs your help.

You don’t have to wait for the fictional “someone else” to do any of these things. The truth is that you’re very capable of doing all of those things right now.

As a reminder of that fact, I use this as my daily self-imposed challenge:

No matter what, I will leave everything that I touch and every person I meet a little better than I how I found them.

It doesn’t have to be difficult, and like I said earlier, it’s something that anyone can do.

So, are you up for the challenge?

Insanity in Action

Unfortunately, there may be someone reading this who is thinking:

“Yeah, this sounds cute and all, but this world is so hopelessly effed up that there’s nothing that I can do to make it better.”

If you’re one of those people, I cannot even express how wrong you are. You can do something, and this brilliant quote from Helen Keller says it so much better than I ever could.

I am only one, but I still am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.” -Helen Keller

We can’t let the enormity of the task to stop us from doing whatever we can do.

Tell me if any of the following quotes makes sense to you:

“Ugh, I have so much weight to lose. There’s no way that I’m ever going to get to my ideal weight, so I might as well shove 3 Big Macs in my face for lunch.”

“I am in so much debt right now and I’m never going to dig out of this hole, so I might as well put that 60-inch HDTV that I’ve always wanted (but don’t need) on my credit card.”

“This world is such a mess and there’s no way that it’s going to get any better, so what’s the point in doing anything about it?”

All these quotes are pure insanity. 

Any action that gets us closer to our goal is better than doing nothing, and it’s infinitely better than doing something that will drive us farther away from our goal.

Out of the three quotes above, it’s the third one that I’m concerned with. There is a much better way to live our lives than choosing to go down that dark road, and that’s where you come in.

I don’t need everyone to leave the world a little better than how they found it–I just need you to do it.

Yep, just you.

Like Helen Keller said, don’t refuse to do something that you can do.

The Real Legacy

Everyone loves to talk about leaving a legacy after they die, or leaving a legacy for their children long after they’re gone.

I say, screw that.

This isn’t about leaving a legacy when you leave this earth, this is about leaving a legacy whenever you leave a room.

The very real truth is that your legacy is being created today. Right now, to be specific.

Think about this–what if you committed to leaving everything that you touch a little better than how you found it?

What if you shared this simple idea with 10 people who committed to do the same thing?

That is exactly how we’ll positively change the world, and there’s no one alive who can convince me that it can’t be done. It all starts with one person simply committing to leave the world a little better than he/she found it.

You know that I’m “all in” when it comes to this challenge, and I sincerely hope that you are too.

All that we have to do is commit to leaving every situation and every person we meet a little better than how we found them.

That’s it.

The world needs us, and whether we’re ready or not, our legacies are being written right now at this very moment.

The only question is: What will it be?

Your Turn

How are you leaving the world a little better than how you found it? Is this something that you’re currently doing right now? Jump into the comments below and make your voice heard!

23 thoughts on “Better Than You Found It”

  1. Good Morning, Shola.

    I love that this blog is about all of the millions of little things we can do to improve our world. Sometimes (or maybe a lot of times) all I have the energy for is little things.

    I read your blog last week, but did not comment because I was in a very stressed-out place. My father had endured multiple heart attacks, was in a very fragile state and my mom had her own new health issues (cancer!). I was feeling mired in bad news. BUT, I want you to know that you still blessed me with your words. Even though I could not come up with much positive to say in reply, I was still affected by your blog.

    As always, Shola, thank you. Today is a brighter day all around (my dad is leaving the hospital today for rehab and my mom’s cancer is very treatable)!


    • Hi Kathy, just saw your comments as I posted my thoughts on Shola’s message. What a difficult week you must have had, and kudos to you for coming back with that upbeat attitude. Your parents are very lucky. You are a strong person and they can count on you to be there. I am praying for your mom and dad’s health. I hope this week is better for you.

      • Thank you, Donna. I am a very positive person. Last week made it hard to be positive, though, you are right! I credit my parents for how I have managed to maintain my ‘sunny disposition’ in spite of what life throws my way! Your prayers are very appreciated, and thank you very much for taking the time to comment to me!!! It helped my Monday end on a very positive note!

    • Kathy, I am so sorry to hear that you and your family are going through all of that! Thank you so much for sharing that with me, and please know that I am sending you positive vibes as I’m typing this comment. You are the poster woman for resilience and if I’ve done anything to add a little strength to your day, then my day has officially been made :). Hooray for your dad leaving the hospital and here’s to healthier days ahead for your mom and dad!

  2. Shola you have stopped me dead in my tracks. “This is about leaving a legacy whenever you leave a room”??? This is a positivity throwdown, and I love it! Remember that old saying, that if you want to change the world, you must first change yourself? As usual Shola, you are so right on and inspiring. Yes, we live in a world that at times feels overwhelming in its negativity. I believe along with you, that when we each make that decision to change our own mindset to positive, and to create positivity around us, then the effects will be exponential, and we will make a difference. Shola thank you and God Bless You, and have a positivitively wonderful week!

    • Donna, I’m stealing your “positivity throwdown” line–I love it! Yes, it’s a big challenge to look at leaving a legacy in this way, but it’s also super empowering too. I’m embarrassed to admit that it took me most of my life to realize how true that saying is: If you want to change the world, you must change yourself first. Nowadays, I’m focused on whatever actions I can do to make the world a better place (even if it’s a super small action), and I keep reminding myself that I’m positively changing the world in the process. Thank you SO much for your kind words, and I hope that you’re having an excellent start to your week!

  3. The part that struck me today was “Encourage someone’s dream instead of telling them why it can’t be done.” I have been getting lots of opportunities to do this lately because my boyfriend has been laid off and he is brainstorming his options.

    I have a fear of self-employment because I have seen it lead to bankruptcy. So I want him to just get a regular job. There are many regular jobs he would like and many self-employment ideas that sound fun to him.

    I can’t help being biased, but I am trying not to be a downer. I will still mention my worries, and if there are impediments that I know of (such as city-required paperwork or huge fees) I will mention them, but I try very hard to do so in a way that is not slamming down all of his ideas. I also contribute to the brainstorming (including self-employment ideas, though admittedly ones I think have low start-up costs). And I try to think of resources that will help with various ideas.

    • Good stuff Debbie! Since I’m an entrepreneurial type of dude like your boyfriend, I completely get where he’s coming from. Sure, self-employment can lead to bankruptcy, but it can also lead to millions of dollars, incredible time freedom, no possibility of bully boss, and life of doing work that’s your greatest passion (I personally know quite a few people who are experiencing this.) Also, on the flip side, getting a regular job isn’t a guarantee these days–unfortunately, your boyfriend’s layoff was a perfect example. If I ever have to make someone aware of a potential obstacle that could be in the way of someone’s dream, I make sure to offset it with at least 3 reasons why the person still has what it takes to make it happen. So far, so good!

  4. Hi Shola,
    I love this post! I’ve always felt that being considerate of others is showing them ultimate love and respect even in seemingly small gestures (changing the toilet paper roll when it gets close to the end). That’s just who I am and it feels good! What I find discouraging is the lack of reciprocation. I find that many people are not considerate. People in my life are not thinking about how they can make my day brighter or easier and, on my bad days, it makes me question why I bother. Sometimes it works to remind myself not to be so attached to getting something in return and to do something just for the sake of doing it. What matters is that that I am being true to who I am, someone who does things for others…just because it feels good and it’s the loving thing to do! Do you have any other tips for those less than positive moments?

    • Jana, I hear you–it can be hard to do these things when you’re having a bad day, or when you feel that doing the right thing isn’t appreciated. You already said the answer in your comment: it’s all about not being attached to getting something in return. I’ve actually found that I’ve receive more joy when I’m doing something to make the world a slightly more positive place when I release the need to be noticed for it. It took me a while to get to that place, but now it allows me to be more authentically positive, instead of doing things in hopes of getting a positive reaction. I hope that makes sense. Thanks for your comment Jana, and keep doing the right thing, whether it’s noticed or not!

    Shola, I wanted to say thank you so much for this particular post – I am new to your site and I love it.

    This week has been a rough week for me, everywhere I look – people are negative. They contradict themselves and rubbish life and the world. I was feeling negative and despairing about what is my purpose – why do we bother – what is the point of life…

    Your post has come at the perfect time, it has helped me to see that my purpose (everyone’s purpose) is to commit to leaving every situation and every person I meet a little better than how I found them, AND I COMMIT to this!


    Thank you – Have a great week!

    • Aww, thanks Jody! Welcome aboard, my friend–I’m glad that you’re here! I am absolutely THRILLED that you found this place when you did, and hopefully it will continue to bring joy to your day. If you are willing to commit to leaving every situation and every person you meet a little better than how you found them, then you are definitely my kind of lady :). Thanks for being here, and keep spreading your light!

  6. As always, a great and inspiring message. I do often ,do many of the things suggested,but the difference is, starting tomorrow morning, I will do them with the conscious thought that I am leaving something better than I found it! Thank you Shola! I am very grateful and blessed to have found you. You are a wonderful example of the best a person can be!

    • Right on, Maxine! Just know if that you do that, you are officially and consciously making this world a better place.

      And also, I am equally as grateful and blessed to have found you!

  7. Beautiful, Shola! Thanks so much for this amazing post! I love the concept that everything counts, and that the collective of all the little things we can do makes a big difference. Bless you, my friend!

    • Kari! It’s so great to see you here! Yes, everything counts–literally every little thing, and it’s amazing how quickly all of those little things can add up into something big. Keep making a positive difference, my friend–the world is watching!

  8. Hi Shola, I love your tips for every day brightening. It amazes me how many people just don’t say please and thank you anymore. My dad would have kicked my butt if I didn’t! Your challenge to take a few minutes and think about the impact you are having is wonderful. If more people did that, the world would indeed be better. One of my favorite possessions is a sweatshirt that says “peace on earth begins at home”… And it really, really does! See you next week Shola!

    • Hey Spring! My parents would have let me hear about it too if I didn’t say “please” and “thank you” consistently. I couldn’t agree more with your sweatshirt that says “peace on earth begins at home” because it does. We literally get closer to peace on earth once someone says “I’m going to leave each person and each situation better than I found them.” Thanks for the comment, Spring…and in terms of your last comment, it’s now officially our secret 😉

  9. This post made me think about my moving to this large city, which has grown since I moved here in 2005. I came from a small suburban town, about an hour east of Nashville, TN. When I moved to what is truly a suburb of Nashville (Murfreesboro) it was quite a culture shock to me, being only an hour south of the Gallatin area, where I was living. In that smaller country town, people are so very friendly. Nice gestures are just a part of who we Gallatin folks are! Not here.. no way! People are so unfriendly and Nashville area was voted one of the most friendly large cities?? Not so much. I cannot imagine what other larger cities are like, as Nashville can be cold at times. Interactions are so different just being closer to there, than where I did live. I say this, because when my mom came to help with my move to my new home last week, I had to laugh, after feeling frustrated for her, as she drove behind me expecting those around her to be ‘nice’ letting her over, waving to her.. etc. Not in this city. It is dog eat dog.. so I had a chat with her when we stopped for lunch, as she was frustrated on how rude people were driving around her, as she tried to follow me. I told her she needed a ‘tutorial on how to drive like a b**ch’ and she laughed. I gave her a few pointers and when she followed me across town after lunch, to get house stuff.. she did so much better! It took me about two weeks after living here, to realize it is a whole different ball game around here. I get quite excited when someone does something positive out in our community.. and that small town girl on me?, still frustrated on how rude people can be at times. Faces light up, when I spread positivity to someone, when out and about! I see someone having a bad day, smile and tell them to enjoy their day, they smile back! It helps them to feel better. When I find myself getting frustrated and apologize, their whole attitude changes to be positive in return. Amazing how when one spreads cheer, they get cheer in return!

  10. I read this earlier in the week but didn’t really have a comment. This is something I try to do all the time, but I was wondering how successful I am at it. Then yesterday I got a card from a friend that said “Some people make the world a better place just by being in it. You’re one of those people.” This isn’t to toot my own horn, but to affirm that the effort does have a positive effect on others.

  11. Dear Shola,

    You’re so right: being positive starts with little things, not with big things…

    Moreover, in Dutch we having a saying: “Improve the world, start with yourself” — and you give wonderful examples just how to do that!

    Kind regards,

    Anneke (The Netherlands)

  12. Hi Shola,
    Thanks for reminding us to stay consistently positive. I pick up litter several times weekly, even daily, sometimes for five minutes, and sometimes for an hour or more. I get a lot of joy from removing graffiti, or shoveling away snow at bus stops, or serving strangers food at places of worship. Last week I started volunteering for my city
    councilor’s upcoming election. I really enjoy whatever small gesture I do. I know and trust my actions inspire others. Thanks again for your inspiration and motivation. May you reach many.


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Hi! I am Shola

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Over a decade ago, I was drowning in the despondency of yet another workday. My success as the top regional performer had been numbed by a culture of incessant workplace bullying. And, I’d recently made the situation worse by filing a formal complaint. In short, I was collateral damage in a company without the process or intention to address my experience.

Exhausted from the drama, with an unrecognizable version of myself at the wheel, I intentionally swerved off the interstate in an attempt to take my own life. But in that half-second, my reflexes responded, and I yanked the wheel away from disaster. As I clipped the guardrail on I 405, something changed...

I uncovered a power within myself

...a burning desire to reverse a trend that happens daily to sixty-five million people in this country alone. This catalyst has since become Go Together™ Movement - a transformational roadmap of mindset, behaviors, and tools that transform workplace cultures and drive results.

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