“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring — all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” – Leo F. Buscaglia.
How often have you had one of those days where everything just seems to not be going your way? You’re walking down the street, feeling kinda sad…but then someone smiles at you and you start to feel a little bit better. It’s amazing how that works. That’s right — my 60 second idea to improve the world is as simple as this: SMILE!
There is a real power associated with smiles, and it’s something I think we take for granted too often. Smiling is one of the easiest and quickest things someone can do to not only make themselves feel better, but to also make others feel better. That’s right: it has actually been proven that smiling can make you and others around you happier. According to an article about smiling, even when we fake a smile, our body releases the “happy” hormones serotonin and dopamine, which instantly lift our mood. Another one of the greatest things about smiles is that they are contagious, meaning it’s likely that if you smile at someone, they’re more likely to smile at another person. In addition to being infectious, smiling also makes any person seem more attractive, approachable, and friendly. Studies even show that people who smile are more likely to be remembered than a person who doesn’t smile.
So go ahead, start smiling — you will not only feel better, but you will look better. Smiling costs nothing, but it can be worth a million bucks to someone who is having an off day. Make that difference in someone’s life.
A college education is expensive. And necessary for many careers.
Many students, facing faster-than-inflation cost increases and sluggish growth in government loans, take on more and more private debt to finance their education. The average debt per borrower is now over $25,000 across all types of institutions, up from $19,000 ten years ago. 65% of students who entered Bachelor’s level-granting schools in 2008 graduated with debt.
Those indebted students forgo many of the choices and benefits of a broad education due to an obsession with “will it pay off” thinking.
Meanwhile, too many graduating students focus only on jobs with the highest salary for them to pay off their debts rather than careers that they are passionate about or that we need more of. For example, there are dire shortages of nurses and teachers. Many young entrepreneurs are unable to start a business due to debt obligations.
Three problems: 1) excessive debt; 2) obsession with “jobs” while choosing college courses; 3) misallocation of human capital into society’s labor needs.
One solution: student debt repayment should be based on ability to pay instead of absolute amount.
Pay what you can, not what you owe.
How would it work? All qualified college loans would be repaid using a sliding scale formula. If you make less than a threshold, depending on your family size, you pay nothing. Once you are above the threshold (maybe 150% of poverty level), then you pay 10-15% of your income to your debts with a hard cap of around 20%. Currently, the Obama administration started this for federal grants. However, the private, for-profit sector still dominates. Pay what you can plans should cover ALL loans. Whatever losses it incurs can be absorbed by the federal government. The upside will be more people finishing college, better educational choices while in college, better job fit after graduation, and all the economic and social benefits of these improvements.
There is a lot wrong with the world. But there is nothing wrong with the world that cannot be fixed by what is right with the world (thanks Bill Clinton for idea). I think the same mix is inside each of us. Hopefully, your education and this class have given you the means and tools to find what is fixable and how to start fixing.
In that spirit, your last post is to think of a “60 second idea to improve the world.” This is shamelessly borrowed form a BBC podcast I heard.
Please read your post and time it to sixty seconds! These should be short, powerful, and convincing.
There will be a small prize for the winning idea as determined by the post’s rating with my opinion being the final tie-breaker. You can see my last semester’s ideas on their blog.