“I really want to help make a difference in our world, it just breaks my heart when I see (insert ‘hungry child’, ‘war’, ‘abuse’, ‘homelessness’ or a myriad of other social ills) but I just don’t have the (insert ‘time’, ‘extra money’, ‘resources’) to make a real difference.”
I hear that nearly every day, from both folks who are online contacts and real-world friends and neighbors. My answer? HOGWASH!
Whether we realize it or not, we are ALREADY making a difference in our world with every action, and non-action, with every word spoken or held back, with every choice, with every smile, with every frown, with every thank you. So if we’re already making a difference, why on EARTH wouldn’t every single one of us strive to assure that difference is a positive one?
So, for all of those who truly do not see how they can make a positive impact, for those who cannot think of ways to make a difference, and, for all you masters of excuses, here are 55 *easy*, simple, free or no-cost ways to help heal our world and our people. (This list started off as 20 ways and I had to make myself stop at 55!)
1) Smile. When you see someone without a smile, give them yours.
2) Look a person in the eyes, smile and say thank you when they render you a service – cashiers, mechanics, bus drivers, waiters/waitresses, hotel desk clerks, flight attendants. They are not invisible tools created for your comfort, they are your brothers and sisters – SEE them and thank them.
3) Pick a name out of the phone book and send them an inspirational card so they know someone is thinking about them.
4) Smile at a child and tell them you’re proud of them.
5) Slow down and let someone over in traffic instead of speeding up so you can get to your destination a whole 10 seconds sooner.
6) Leave an inspirational book in a public place such as an airport, bus station, cafe with a little note inside saying how you hope whoever finds it receives some comfort from it.
7) Donate some of your old books to a local school or youth center
8) Adopt a soldier – send letters and care packages
9) Watch someone’s kids for them so they can go on a date or simply have a few hours of much-needed ‘me time’.
10) Buy a $5 Starbucks gift card and give it away
11) Give one hour a week as a volunteer in your community
12) Clean your closets and donate old clothing and household items to the Salvation Army or GoodWill
13) Go yard-saling and buy baby items, then contact your local department of family services and ask them what local expectant mothers could use them. (I did this and ended up with almost enough to outfit an entire nursery for just about $20!)
14) Give another driver the parking spot you wanted.
15) Visit a nursing home with your children.
16) Leave flowers or cookies on someone’s desk
17) Send a thank you note to someone who is rarely thanked – what about that nice waitress at your local restaurant or the frazzled teenager in the McDonald’s drive through?
18) Send somebody $20 in the mail. Just because
19) Give a genuine compliment
20) Take an afternoon and take your children on a drive – just to listen and sing along with the radio together
21) Give a child in the grocery store a dollar
22) Hold a Teddy Bear Drive and donate the bears to a children’s shelter for new arrivals.
23) Invite a lonely neighbor or co-worker over for dinner
24) Take your son’s old sports equipment and donate it to your local youth shelter, rec center or Little League/Youth Football League
25) Give blood
26) Send flowers to your local hospital with a note to give them to the patient they feel would most benefit from receiving them
27) Thank a police officer
28) Thank a fireman
29) Adopt a homeless pet at the humane society.
30) If you own a website or blog, find a charity you believe in and put a link up – with no expectation of a link back.
31) If you are on Facebook, Twitter, Myspace or another social network, tell your friends about a worthy cause and include a link
32) Mow an elderly neighbor’s lawn, or shovel their walk, or rake their leaves.
33) Take out the garbage without being asked – take out the neighbor’s garbage while you’re at it!
34) Call or visit a homebound person
35) Volunteer to be a tutor in school
36) Plant a garden and share the bounty
37) Listen to a child, really listen
38) Teach your children to say thank you
39) Offer a shoulder to lean on – and be there when it’s needed
40) Pray for others – Send positive/healing energy – Meditate – the words don’t matter, the intention does.
41) Tell someone “good job!” – and mean it
42) Share the credit for a job well done with those who took part in it
43) Read to a child
44) Read to an elderly person in a nursing home or hospital
45) Call your parents and say thank you
46) When organizing a party for a child’s birthday or other event, drop off the extra goody bags for children in your local shelter
47) Overpack your child’s lunch and ask them to share with a child at school
48) Teach your children basic respect for others and for all life
49) Apologize to your child when it’s warranted – let them know that it’s ok to make a mistake, that it’s how you handle it that matters most.
50) Leave sticky notes with inspirational quotes in unlikely places for others to find and read
51) Buy green whenever you can
53) Pay attention to local, state and national politics – vote, get involved!
54) Get your pet spayed or neutered
55) If you see litter when going about your daily life, stop and pick it up
These are all small things. But it is kindness and compassion which will be the vehicles of change in our world. Start looking for, recognizing and even creating opportunities to be kind and not only will you be a powerful force for change, you will also be the recipient of return blessings.
Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for a kindness. ~Seneca
I’d like to offer my sincere thanx to both my Twitter friends and to Co-Creator Radio Network for their inspiring words of wisdom and their countless ideas on how we each can make a difference in our world and in someone’s life today – from right where we are at this moment.
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