Embracing Meliorism: The Power of Positive Change

How acts of kindness, creativity and compassion can improve the world.



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Imagine a world where a child's smile, a community garden, or a heartfelt conversation can spark widespread transformation. In such a world, the philosophy of meliorism stands as a beacon of hope and purpose. Meliorism is the belief that people can contribute to positive change and improve the world through intentional acts of love, creativity, compassion, and kindness, The Meliorist explains. This uplifting ideology suggests that every small action can create ripples that lead to significant societal improvements.

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Understanding meliorism
At its core, meliorism is rooted in the idea that human effort can make a meaningful difference. The word ‘meliorist’ comes from the Latin word ‘melior,’ which means ‘better.’ Unlike pessimism, which sees the world as beyond help, or blind optimism, which assumes everything will turn out fine without effort, meliorism advocates for proactive engagement. 

This philosophy encourages individuals to take responsibility for their environment and community, fostering a sense of empowerment and duty to contribute positively. According to Psychology Today, philosopher John Dewey explained that for a meliorist "the specific conditions which exist at one moment, be they comparatively bad or comparatively good, in any event, may be bettered."

Meliorism emphasizes that even the smallest actions can lead to substantial changes. Whether it’s a kind word, a creative project, or a compassionate gesture, these acts can accumulate to create a better world. 

Finding purpose in meliorism
In times of crisis, such as during the COVID-19 pandemic, meliorism can provide a framework for finding purpose and hope. As discussed in Psychology Today, focusing on how you can make a difference, no matter how small, can help you cope with uncertainty and anxiety. This proactive approach to life not only benefits others but also enhances your own mental and emotional wellbeing. 

While people did not have control over their external circumstances during the global pandemic, they certainly did have control over how they chose to react to the situation. “Through concentrating on purposeful action, on doing what you can, you are better able to remain calm and sane while still capable of doing whatever is in your own hands to help yourself and those around yourself. That is all you need to do right now,” Philosopher and Research, Frank Martlea Ph.D. explained on Psychology Today. 

A practical approach
According to the Mayo Clinic, to incorporate this mindset of actionable kindness into your life, you can start with small, manageable actions including the following: 

Acts of kindness: Simple gestures like smiling at a stranger, helping a neighbor, or volunteering for a local cause. These acts can increase positive emotions and reduce stress by promoting the release of hormones such as oxytocin, which enhances feelings of wellbeing​

Creative projects: Use your skills and passions to contribute to something bigger. This could involve creating art that inspires, writing to advocate for change, or developing community projects. Engaging in creative activities not only contributes to societal improvement but also enhances your own sense of purpose and satisfaction​​.

Compassion and understanding: Engaging in conversations that foster empathy and understanding is crucial. Listening to others' stories and sharing your own in ways that build bridges rather than walls can create a more compassionate society. Acts of kindness and empathy are essential in building strong, supportive communities and fostering positive relationships. 

By adopting a viewpoint based on meliorism, you can embrace the belief that your efforts, no matter how small, are valuable and capable of creating positive change. This mindset not only improves the world around you but can also enrich your own life, giving you a sense of purpose and fulfillment.

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