Astronaut Chris Hadfield has served as commander of the International Space Station. His zero-gravity version of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” became an online phenomenon last year.

I’d remove all memories of hatred...

Nobody is born with hatred or bigotry—these things are taught. To carry hatred in our hearts for five, 50 or even 1,000 years and use it to fuel negative behaviour is immensely destructive. If we could sweep away the bad memories and let people reveal their true good nature, ruling the world would be a lot easier!

I’d fill every belly every day...

When I watched the Olympics and saw the incredible human achievements that a select few are able to accomplish, I couldn’t help thinking about the millions of people in the world who don’t even know about the Olympics—and yet among them may be the greatest athletes of all. How many extraordinary people have we denied because we can’t find a way to feed them? 

Drivers would use their indicators properly... 

I spend a lot of time in my car talking out loud to bad drivers: “Oh, you were turning right! That must be why you slowed down suddenly without warning…”

Everyone would learn to sing both melody and harmony...

I’ve always been in bands and music is essential to me. Singing melody, knowing the words and the main tune and how to present it, is like reading poetry. To add harmony is to give the music an unexpected depth and sweetness like nothing else. The skilled application of these two talents makes music into art, and good art helps us understand and appreciate life a little better. 

Dogs would live longer...

It’s not fair that dogs get such disproportionately short lives. We’ve had several wonderful dogs over the years, but I still miss my Labrador Troy, who died when he was 12. He was tremendous; loyal, brave and selfless. I’d have trusted him with the care of my kids. For the sake of both dogs and their owners, I wish we could have each other around for longer. 

We’d think more and blindly believe less...

It’s far easier to believe something than take the time and effort to understand it. This disparity is fundamental to so much of what we do wrong in the world. I run into it a lot because I have so many followers on social media. If I post a photo taken from space, I’ll accompany it with an explanation of what you can see. But lots of people just glance at the photo and then post their snap judgment without doing the research. Whenever you find yourself doing  something without really knowing why, it’s time to take a step back. 

People would laugh more...

Laughing is contagious and purges the bad stuff. When you’re in a meeting and things are all tense, a moment of honest laughter puts things into perspective. I laugh when I watch Benny Hill or Monty Python—I’d like to give everyone a little bottle of John Cleese to carry round so they could open it and laugh out loud every day. 

I’d ask people to make their first, gut reaction one of respect and then kindness...

Remember that every stranger, through any number of tiny different circumstances, might have been your friend. 

I’d give everyone a month with a window seat orbiting the earth...

I’ve been around the world 2,600 times and it changes who you are. Wonder that’s informed by experience and understanding shifts your view on life. There’s no Us and Them up there —the commonality of the human condition is revealed. We should remind ourselves that we all want the same things in life: better opportunities for our children, laughter and joy and love.

Chris Hadfield’s new book You Are Here: Around the World in 92 Minutes is out now, buy it here.

Read more articles by Caroline Hutton here

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