Most people want to help. It’s almost universal. Millenials want to “make an impact”. Gen Xers want to “make a difference”. Baby Boomers and the Greatest Generation want to “be of value”.
Sure, there are those out there who only care about themselves and their own needs and their own feelings. I don’t have any statistics on this but from my own observations I would guess that this is a tiny percentage. Most people love someone besides themselves. So let’s leave the diehard self-centered out of the equation and look at the remainder.
Many people want to help but might not know how. Or they refrain because they may think that their contributions are insignificant. They may feel that they need to have more or be more before they can make an impact. They may see a problem in the world at large and don’t know how they can possibly help make it better.
I am a proponent of “bloom where you are planted”.
We can’t all save the world (2 billion square miles and 7.4 billion people…. that would be a lot even if we were superheroes). We don’t always have the resources- time, education, information, social capital, or financial foundation- to solve every problem. And there are so many problems, which one do we pick first? We can, however, start right where we are.Bloom where you are planted Click To Tweet
Start With Your Social Circle
What can you do to help your spouse, your kids, your parents, your extended family, your friends, your neighbors? We can help those closest to us. It’s an easy place to start because we are already invested. Most often these are the people who don’t directly ask for things or we get so comfortable that we don’t notice a need . It might even be your child’s annoying little friend, the one who shows up just in time for lunch. That kid may indeed be hungry or maybe he is looking for a more comfortable place to be right then. Sometimes the impact we make hits many targets with one stone.
Start With Your Job
We all spend the majority of our day working. We may not be in our dream job but every job is important. Even if it is not prestigious or glamorous we all have the ability to make a difference simply by doing our jobs well.
Uh Oh! I hear the rumblings of the nay sayers through my computer.
Yes, every job is important. Even if you are low man on the totem pole. Just think about it….if you are a housekeeper in a hospital it might seem insignificant, until the job does not get done. Can you imagine a dirty hospital? (Bacterial infection anyone?) Or a receptionist? (random people aimlessly roaming the office? Stealing lunches out of the office fridge?) Or a caregiver?
If we work in a customer service job even the act of being kind is making a difference. Just think of your own situations when customer service is lacking or even rude. It can put a speed bump in your day. Maybe that small act of kindness will even give them just enough “oomph” in their day to give kindness to someone else.
We no longer get gold stars like kindergartners. Just because a job or position is not prestigious or financially lucrative doesn’t mean it doesn’t make a difference in someone’s life. If we do our jobs well and, even more importantly do it with a smile and willing spirit, we will make a difference in someone’s life. (No, I never said it would be easy)
Start With a Passion or a Concern
You may look at world hunger and wonder how you can cure it. You may not be able to cure it but you can help feed someone in need. You can feed a neighbor, you can give away the extras from your garden, volunteer for Meals on Wheels, donate some sale items to a food pantry, or find your own way to make your own contribution.
I have a friend who likes to feed people. She started making extra soup every Monday and putting them in containers in a cooler down by the sidewalk. They are up for grabs for whoever wants them. These have not just helped the hungry, but people who were struggling with other issues as well. The single parent who just needed a little help here and there, the young couple strapped for cash because the gentleman was going through cancer treatments (bonus: he was on a soft diet, two birds with one stone), and the construction worker who forgot his lunch. It’s not fancy, it’s not a big organization, but it works. It’s what she can do from where she is.
Look at Who’s Helped You and Pay it Forward
Sometimes we are the people in need. We need help. Let’s look at who is helping us (or has) and pay it forward. When I was a young mother, my daughter was very sick. For a period of about 7 years she was in and out of the emergency room 4-6 times per year and needed a lot of monitoring in between. People watched my other child, people brought over dinner if it was a bad week, people ran errands so I could stay with my daughter.
Now I try to do the same thing. I substitute for the single mom at work whose four kids take turns being sick. I have volunteered my time to drive a friend back and forth for cancer treatments. I have stepped in to help a mom suffering with postpartum depression. I do it because I am now able to. It makes an impact. I know that because it made one on me.
This brings us to the last part.Do what you can do...until you are able to do more. Click To Tweet
Do what you can do….until you are able to do more.
During different times of our life we are able to offer different things. As that changes, we can do more. Maybe we become more financially prosperous and can fund more causes. Maybe our time isn’t as limited as it once was so we can volunteer. Maybe we simply arrive at a place in our life where we have more joy and peace within ourselves so we can offer it to others.
Photo Credit: Maurizio.69
How do you make a difference?