How to Make a Difference in the World
Things You Can Do to Make A Difference in the World
Some people simply don’t enjoy being in the spotlight. A crowd can be a nightmare for an introvert, and even the most social people eventually run short on time and energy. Sometimes adding a new activity to the schedule to make an impact feels like too much work or too much effort.
The truth is, you can make an impact on doing everyday things that are already on your schedule. Simply look around you and see how you can improve current situations.
Small things, like helping an elderly neighbor or babysitting for a friend with small kids can make a big difference for them. Even simpler, smiling and being kind to the person who waits on you or rings up your purchase. Let someone out in traffic, return a grocery cart, help lift groceries into the car, etc.
The key is to pay attention to your surroundings. What do you see? Ask yourself these questions:
Is there a need that I can fill in this moment?
Whether it’s being kind to someone who looks down or offering to reach an item for an elderly person on a high shelf in the store, you can do something that will make a difference. Making simple conversation and acknowledging someone while you are out doing errands is not adding to your workload, it is enhancing it.
Is there someone who I can encourage today?
We all spend time waiting. Waiting in line. Maybe in the reception area or at the DMV. Use this time to make a difference. Send a picture of your new grandchild to a friend from your smartphone. Let someone know you are thinking of them and give them a call from your hands-free device in your car while you commute. Use your downtime to make an impact while you wait.
Is there a need near me?
Do you live in a neighborhood? Do you know your neighbors? Pay attention to the needs of those right next to you. Take the trash cans to or from the curb for your neighbor. Offer to walk their dog or make them dinner once per week to give them a break. Offer to fix something you see broken or make a small effort to improve their personal space.
How can I be kind to the people I see?
You don’t need to go out of your way to find people to be kind to. Just be kind to those who cross your path naturally. Give up the open parking space to someone else. Let someone go before you in the checkout line. Pay for the car behind you in the drive-thru. Smile or give a compliment as you pass someone by. Focus on the people in front of you and make an impact effortlessly.
Making an impact is as simple as doing the everyday things you are already out doing. Pay attention to your surroundings and you will find unlimited ways to make an impact.
How Making A Difference Benefits You
There is no doubt that working to make a difference can benefit others. That’s easy math for sure: one person making an effort + multiple people receiving the benefits of that effort = countless people who are now in a better situation.
While most people are initially motivated to help others for selfless reasons, there are undeniable benefits that come from the effort.
Helping others makes you feel happier and helps you live a fulfilling life.
There are some who believe our purpose on Earth is to serve in a way that expands the Kingdom – or the universe depending on your perspective. Whether or not that is true, it feels wonderful to know that your actions caused something good to happen in the world. To know that, because of your effort, someone somewhere is now better off. Congratulations!
There are many types of motivation. Wanting positive reinforcement, avoiding negative consequences, our intrinsic motivation, and other forces work together to motivate us to act. No matter our reason for taking action, the benefits can be rewarding and more impactful than you may realize.
Here’s how making a difference benefits you:
Creating a legacy
Making a difference can oftentimes lead to an impact that creates a legacy in your name. People come to remember who you are and what you did in the name of the greater good. Pouring into something bigger than yourself or something you create that stems from you can make an impact on generations down the line.
Sometimes your way of making a difference comes from giving back when you have received. There are wonderful healing and satisfaction that comes from paying forward what you have received in your lifetime.
Restoring your faith
When we have lost something precious, it feels good to regain our faith in God, humanity, or our community. Being able to make a difference can help you recover from that sense of loss or abandonment.
When we are suffering greatly, we can refresh our energy by shifting our focus somewhere other than ourselves, and use impactful activity to surface from the depths of depression.
Here are some ways to ease depression:
- Set Goals – When you’re depressed, you may feel like you can’t accomplish anything. That makes you feel worse about yourself. To push back, set daily goals for yourself. Start small. Make your goal something that you can succeed at, like fixing your bed every other day.
- Exercise – It briefly boosts feel-good chemicals called endorphins.
- Eat Healthily – If depression tends to make you overeat, getting in control of your eating will help you feel better.
- Get Enough Sleep – Depression can make it hard to get enough snooze and too little sleep can make depression worse.
- Fight those Negative Thoughts – You might feel like no one likes you, but is there real evidence for that? You might feel like the most worthless person on the planet, but is that really likely? It takes practice, but in time you can beat back those negative thoughts before they get out of control.
Memorializing someone you love
Being able to perceive a message or a meaning in the lives of those we love and have lost is especially gratifying. Helping their legacy and memory live on is a wonderful benefit.
Sometimes your efforts blossom to create an opportunity for you and for others to gain employment or resources that would not have been available without your contribution.
Choosing to make a difference is a win-win for everyone involved. Those who receive support from others are blessed, just as those who take the risk or step out and make a difference in their lives. Be assured that your efforts to serve others will come to result in great personal benefit.
Who Has Made A Difference in Your Life?
In large and small ways, many people have made a difference in your life. Our parents are our first influencers, and some of your earliest memories can be activities or moments you spent with your family. As you grew and integrated more into your community, a broader range of people made an impact on your life.
Over time, the range of people making an impact on your life likely comes to includes people younger than you, as well as older. The expression “out of the mouth of babes” speaks to the ability of new generations to make a difference with their own brand of wisdom and influence.
Think of the people who’ve made an impact on you: often with just a small act of kindness, some words of wisdom, or a conversation they’ve long forgotten.
- Church members
- Community members
- A total stranger
Do you have a cherished memory of someone who affected you in a profound way? You have the capacity to make that same impact on someone else. Small gestures often have a bigger impact than you realize.
Statistics show that human connection is often a catalyst to end periods of depression.
Humans are designed to be in relationship with one another. Despite this need, many people find themselves isolated and feeling alone. This disconnection can manifest in mental health and self-esteem issues. Even people who seem like they “have it all together” are often struggling in some area of their life.
Start a conversation with someone who sits alone at lunchtime in the staff room.
Ask them about their family and their interests. Your attention and kindness could help bridge an important gap between their current situation and the hope they need to rise up from a difficult place. Simply showing interest in them can be all that it takes to combat the negativity in their lives.
Take a moment to think about the people who have made an impact on your life. Recall the different times that someone’s actions really made a difference in your mood or the outcome of the situation at hand. Did they do something grand, or something small and seemingly insignificant? Spending time reflecting on who has been important in your life and what they did for you will do a few things – including make you smile and encourage gratitude.
After your reflection, make a conscious decision to do small things for people in your life. Take your time to engage, uplift, help or encourage those you love most.
- Take someone out for a meal and conversation
- Help an elderly neighbor with their lawn care
- Help a single mom with babysitting
- Teach a child to bake cookies
Thinking about the people who have made a difference in our lives helps remind us how easy it is to make an impact. Being in gratitude for their gestures, large and small, makes it easy to be of service to others with our own kindnesses.
Don’t Use This as An Excuse to Stop Trying to Make A Difference
Winnie-the-Pooh is a loveable children’s character who has delighted all ages for generations. Together with his friends Christopher Robin, Piglet, and Tigger, he experiences life with a sense of wonder and delight. He and his gang solve problems and face everyday situations, finding the silver lining wherever they go. Except for one: Eeyore. A sleepy and pessimistic grey donkey, Eeyore is usually the first one to find fault and lose hope in a situation. His typical response to an experience is negative, and he is defeated before anything begins.
“It won’t make a difference” is a common thought to have when looking at our abilities as opposed to the magnitude of needs in the world. Imagining that your effort makes an impact feels like trying to capture a drop if wind – impossible. Take heart; all our actions matter in one way or another.
Eeyore struggles with negative self-talk.
He has attached a negative meaning to everything. In reality, all things are neutral until we attach a meaning to them. To say this a different way, everything simply is, until we interpret its meaning. Nothing is fundamentally either good or bad until we decide so. When a tree falls in the forest, a conservationist sees the loss of natural resources, while a logger sees dollar signs.
Your beliefs about your impact determine the nature of that impact. If you diminish your belief that you can make an impact, you will likely end up doing very little – or nothing at all. You will see your opportunities through a lens of lack, loss, hopelessness, and helplessness. This certainly won’t inspire you to focus your efforts and take action; it’s a massive deterrent.
What you look for, you will find. If you look at the ways that others have made a difference as an individual or against the odds, you can be inspired and see the proof that small actions can generate big results. Here are two ways to get inspired and change your mindset about making a difference all by yourself:
Biographies are an excellent way to be amazed by the human spirit and how one person can make an impact. Some of the world’s greatest leaders have biographies. Learning that they were normal people who took action is inspiring and provides a roadmap for taking your own action.
The reason why young people should read biographies or autobiographies is that they provide the most valuable lessons in life. People who write their autobiographies usually have a thought-provoking story to tell about the trials and tribulations of their own lives.
Documentaries are like biographies and cover individuals, companies, and movements that have made an impact on the world. Watching the “behind the scenes” information is always illuminating and inspiring.
“It won’t make a difference,” no, that’s just an easy out.