Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A "Better" Rule

 I have a weird habit of telling myself what to do. Like, I'll throw a tissue at a public garbage can and miss, and be about to just walk away and leave it, when the busybody in my head says, "where do you think you're going?," and I have to sheepishly go back and pick it up.  This is probably because I'm very bossy in general, and because I was home-schooled as a child and spent a lot of time in my own head (not much has changed, really, now that I think about it- except now you guys have a window in). I suppose this is what you call a "conscience," but I choose to think of it as my own personal Internal Rule Book.  These rules include things like "Never Put Off Until Tomorrow What You Can Do Today" and that old classic "Do Unto Others..."

But one of the best rules I try to live by is "Leave It Better Than You Found It".  Once you get this little phrase knocking around in your noggin, you'll be amazed at how often it applies to your situation. Here are just some of the little ways to try to leave things better as you go through your day.

While Shopping- When you try things on in a store,  hang everything you're not buying back up on the right hangers to give back to the salesperson, and pick up any pins or tags that are lying around.

 Litter- When I take Skip for a walk and have to use a baggie to pick up her, ahem, deposits, I also pick up whatever stray cigarette butts or gum wrappers are lying  around nearby. I am already crouching on the sidewalk with a plastic bag on my hand, so why not?

Bathrooms- When you use a public restroom (or even at a friend's house), replace the toilet paper roll when it's empty, and rinse out the sink when you wash your hands. Even if the mess was there when you got there, the next person is going to think you did it, so you might as well tidy up a bit.

Borrowed Things- If you borrow anything, be it a dress, a car, or a power saw from a friend, give it back in better condition than you got it- send the dress to the dry cleaner, replace the blade on the saw, and fill up the tank on the car.  It's still way cheaper than buying your own.

Parties- I'm not suggesting you turn on a loud Huey Lewis song and start a food fight like in some 80's movie, or try to be the life of the party at every shindig you attend, but if you introduce two people who make a connection, man the bar for a little bit (again, no Cocktail- style bottle twirling required) and help clean up a few glasses at the end of the night, the party will have been better for your being there. 

At the Office- At even the best offices, things sometimes get boring, tedious, frustrating, depressing, and repetitive. Rather than joining in the chorus of complaints, though, shut your mouth and try to make things just a tiny bit better- replace the toner cartridge in the printer everyone's been ignoring, bring in some cookies to share, thank someone for their hard work, and give credit where it's due. At least you won't be bored.

Your Home- Each day, try to make your house or apartment a little better than it was the day before - Whether that's through a big project like re-tiling your bathroom, or a little one like changing a light bulb that's burned out. I don't always succeed at this one (it's a little like swimming against the tide), but I'm always glad I tried.

 Boyfriends- Well... you probably aren't going to change them much for the better. But at least try not to screw them up too much for the next girl.

When you set your mind to the idea of the little contributions you can make to wherever you are, you'll find yourself doing them without thinking.  At least until that little voice in your head says "well done, ol' chap!"

Wait, did I mention that my conscience is British?


Anonymous said...

I love this! Thanks for the reminder! I have been slacking on the home one for sure, and this makes me want to be better! :)

Amy said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one with that voice in her head! For a minute there I was worried! Especially when people look at me weird when I'm wiping down the soggy wet sink in the public restroom. ;)

Anonymous said...

I LOVE this post. More people need to be like you . .I mean . .us. lol

Mister Sharaf said...

its cool

Kristen said...

Great article and great blog. I really enjoyed reading it!

Dorsia said...


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Anonymous said...

I love this post. Ahmen sister! I used to be such a bitter, sarcastic little rat muss and it got me nowhere. I want to leave everything better than I found it, including myself. Great post.

Unknown said...

I love this post!!

luna said...

that was cool :)

Sarah A. said...


I am TORTURED by this post. I can't seem to get out of the house because the words "Leave it better than you found it" are ringing in my head. In my attempt to go to the grocery store this morning I thought, "I'll just tidy up the kitchen a bit more....Let me pick up the dog toys before I go....I have an extra second I should clean the baseboards...I better fold my husband's pj's..." It went on and on, but I did finally get to the grocery store (an hour later!) :)

Lily said...

Thanks, people! Your comments left this POST better than you found it :)

So cheesy!

S said...

It bugs me when other people don't have that 'leave it better than you found it' mentality. If this was a public forum you'd be made so much fun of. You are a brave model and example to post this. Bravo. Imagine what the world would be like if everyone had the same mentality?

S said...

Excellent and brave post! I say brave because the majority of the public could care less as they think 'it's not their job' to leave somethng better than they found it. Imagine if the world was filled with like minded people!

Anonymous said...

OK, I'm totally in love with you right now! In a gay guy that wants to be a housewife kinda way, of course.

My conscious must be Italian, as it really LOVES doing not much.