It seems impossible these days to look at the news without being overwhelmed with negativity. Any positive stories seem to be buried underneath mountains of tragedy. Wars, shootings, abuse, natural disasters; people killing people or people unable to get the help they need to survive. It is not just reports coming in from far away places either. Almost everyday there is talk of a shooting nearby; and it is usually not hard to find a connection to you or someone you know that has been affected by some tragedy.
So often, it seems our only available response is sadness. We post the same encouraging platitudes to social media that everyone else does, change our profile pictures, and make sure everyone knows that we are sending our “thoughts and prayers” to those who are in the middle of it. Most of us don’t see a way to do any more than that.
The sad truth is; most of us aren’t going to change the world. There are many people out there, from all over the world and from all walks of life, that are doing great things and making discoveries that will change the world; but for every one of them there are thousands that sit discouraged, wondering how they can make a difference.
But there is a way.
I’m sure we all know the ripple analogy; how one small act can have huge and far-reaching results. It seems like a nice thought; but does it really work? Can my small act really do anything more than maybe help that one person or make me feel a little better for a minute or two? What can my tiny contribution do in a world that seems to be falling apart?
It’s true. We live in a vast world; with issues and challenges that we can read about but feel powerless to change. However, we all also have our own smaller, and more intimate world. Our family, coworkers, classmates, our circle of friends, and strangers we come into contact with on a daily basis. You might not have a grand plan to change the world; but even the smallest act can have an impact on your world.
Teach your children to be kind, to have compassion for everyone around them, to be good stewards of the things they have and the world they live in, to find their passion and pursue it recklessly and with joy; and live your life to be an example to them of all those things. Maybe they will be the ones to change the world. Maybe they won’t; but by living their lives the way you taught them they could be the one who makes the difference in the life of someone who will.
Be an example to your coworkers and classmates. Encourage them and let them see your compassion and your resilience. Even if you do not go on to find the grand answer to change the world; your inspiration and encouragement could be the thing that leads someone else to find it.
Be kind to everyone you meet. You don’t know a person’s story; what has lead them to the point in their life where your paths cross. A kind word or gesture, a smile, a dollar or two for a meal or cup of coffee; it will cost you next to nothing and could be the thing that changes the course of someone’s life.
Take a little time out of your schedule to volunteer. Serve food or sort clothes at a homeless shelter. Feed and play with the animals at the animal shelter. Give what you can of your time, possessions, or money to those that need it; and do it all with an attitude of thankfulness and compassion. Someone, somewhere, will see your example or be helped by what you gave; and they will do the same for others. Who knows how far one small act will reach?
It won’t always be easy. You will have bad days and not feel like being friendly to anyone. Your kids won’t be perfect little world-changing angels. Your coworkers or classmates will have negative attitudes and try to bring you down. You will feel overwhelmed by the tragedies of the world; you will question what your attitude or small act can really do in the world. Please don’t give up. Even on the days you feel you have nothing to give; give what you can even if it is only smile.
Your world may be small; but it touches other worlds. Make your world a better place; someone will see that and make their world a better place. When we all strive to make our own world’s a better place; the world will have no choice but to do the same.