Magazine, website & books written by teens since 1989

The Toilet Seat Principle

“There’s nothing wrong with leaving the toilet seat up! You women are all the same!” I roll my eyes to the sarcastic sound of my younger brother’s voice, shaking my head in his half-hearted attempt at an argument.

We’ve had this discussion countless times, even when it’s not specifically about the toilet seat. He neglects putting my books back on my shelf after reading them, explodes the contents of his backpack over the living room floor the moment he gets home from school, and not unlike the fairytale character Hansel, leaves a trail of stray crumbs of whatever he is currently eating throughout the entire house. No matter how enormous my efforts or specific my facts, he can never seem to wrap his curly red locks around one of the simplest rules of human existence; everyone is happier when things are left better than they are found, even in instances as insignificantly small as a toilet seat.

Opportunities present themselves throughout life and have the potential to make people and society better, if only they were seized. When walking through a park, it is easy to focus on the beautiful, decorative things – the violet and golden pansies, deep green brush of trees, gentle blue sky polka-dotted with marshmallow clouds. But what happens when a McDonald’s takeout bag, greasy with leftover inedible remains, is discovered? After grimacing at the blemish of perfect scenery, many would simply ignore it, leaving it to waste away or be pecked by passing pigeons. How different would that stroll be if someone just decided to pick it up, and carry the piece of trash with them to the nearest trash can? Not only would this make the ecosystem healthier, but it would also make another person’s experience so much more pleasurable, simply by going a little bit further and being a better person.

Since it is so important to leave things better than you found them, imagine how infinitely more important it would be to leave a person better than you found him. When one of my mornings started with a lecture with my father about my poor habit of tardiness, it affected the rest of my day negatively. One of my friends took notice, and instead of letting it pass, she went the extra mile, bought me a chocolate chip cookie, and sat down with me for two minutes just to tell me that I wasn’t alone, and she’d always be there for me to talk to. Similarly, if we took up the habit of giving smiles, compliments, and chocolate chip cookies when necessary, those people with whom we come in contact would be transformed from bad to good, good to better, and better to best.

Following this simple principle of leaving things and people better than I find them has changed my life specifically by helping me notice other’s situations in life and helping them improve. It has given me the chance to see the world as a place that can progress simply through random acts of kindness and consideration, starting from my very words and deeds. Imagine what changes to life would occur if everyone you came in contact with left you feeling better than the way you felt before. The possibilities are endless. The only thing left to do is act.



Post a Comment

Be the first to comment on this article!




Site Feedback