5 Easy Ways to Change The World Around You In A Positive Way

Full 1mpact, being advocates of change, have always encouraged finding new ways of changing the world around us in a positive way.  Some embrace change, others detest and fear it, and many sit on the sidelines and merely complain about it.  But I believe that many would like to impact others in a positive and cause positive change, but don’t know how or where to start.

What if you could do one thing a day, every day, for the rest of your life to cause positive change in the world closest to you?  What would that life look like?  And what if that habit caught on to others?  Sometimes we buy the idea that being a voice, or a champion, is this large and grandioso event when really it is being faithful to the smaller things.  And when you put those smaller things together they make a much larger picture that impacts the worlds around you.  What if you could change your world?  What would it look like?  And where would you start?

Well, perhaps you could start here first.

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1.        Light Up One Person’s Day, Every Day:

A while back I had posted a question, asking, “If you could light up one person’s day, every day; a different person a day, what kind of life would that be like?”  Those were my exact words.  I was asking myself as much as everyone else.  I wanted to see for myself.  And guess what, it’s easier than you might think.

Many will make excuses as to why they can’t or how difficult it might be without thinking out of the box just for a moment long enough to see that it isn’t that hard.  Let me show you just how easy it can be.  On my Facebook account I have over 400 friends.  More friends than there are days of the year.  The majority, if not all of them, I know and more than an acquaintance basis.  How hard would it be to write a kind, thoughtful, note to a different person a day?  Or say you don’t have that many friends, write to one or more of them several times a year perhaps.  Or write a handwritten note of appreciation to a co-worker.  From that area of thought, what about sending a card to someone randomly just to say you had them in mind.  Birthday cards are loved by all, btw.  For guys this isn’t always popular, but it is well received.  Keep that in mind.

Before an excuse makes its way through, I want to add that it takes less than five minutes.  I know because I’ve been doing this for a year now.  One person a day, every day.   That note can make a huge difference in the outcome of someone’s day.  Even if it isn’t epic, it’s still thoughtful and appreciated.  Steve Siebold, in his 177 Mental Toughness Secrets of the World Class book writes about how champions understand the power of praise and use it lavishly.  Not over the top, not in a way that is supposed to flatter, but fairly and with heart.

You may be the one person that reaches out to someone who didn’t even know they needed it.  You’re not doing this for praise; you’re doing this because you can.  Because you have the power to change someone’s day.  Use it lavishly.

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2.       Give:

Give money, time, baked goods, groceries, piano lessons, whatever you want, to someone in need.  And give selflessly with no need of a “thank you.”  Donate to a charity you believe in.  But donate effectively.  Donate in way that changes lives.  Example; There are several walks or short marathons that help needy people.

If you go on a cancer walk, you get to see survivors and hear stories of people you could possibly help.  If you go to a Make a Wish event you get to meet kids who, in many cases, have a better grip on their own mortality than most adults.  You get to meet them, and by simply giving a small amount of your time walking you are changing a life.

Donate blood to blood bank and save a life.  Doesn’t take much time and someone may need it later.  Or how about donating groceries to a local food bank or needy family you know.  Many of you reading this attend a church, synagogue, or temple, and I have yet to walk into any of those who don’t have a family who attends that could use groceries.

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3.       Random Acts of Kindness:

This concept can sometimes come across very vague.  But there are a lot of ways to accomplish the random acts of kindness.  I know many people who have elderly neighbors who need yard work done, so they go over and mow their lawn or trim their bushes for free.  For those who live in hard winter states you can scoop their walkways.

Sure it may take a bit of time, but the gratitude they will have is immeasurable.   But there are other ways too.  Helping a neighbor move even if they didn’t ask.  Volunteering yourself for something without being asked to do it.  If you see someone’s car out of commission you can stop and see if there is a way you can help.

One of the ways I enact this is easy and sort of leads into number four on this list.  I often go to restaurants where the server is extraordinarily good.  They don’t have to be superhuman good; they just have to be pretty good.  And on the receipt where I have to sign and give a tip; I will often write a quick note about how well they did.  (And tip a bit more than the average person because I understand that working in a serving environment is not easy.)  For those of you who serve, or have served in the past, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

Little notes, offering to help, randomly taking a friend out to eat, giving your time to someone in need; are all examples of ways you can show kindness.  You may not always get thanked, but that is okay.  That’s not why you’re doing it.  You’re doing it to change the world nearest to you.

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4.       Praise the Help:

In number three I mentioned how I’d write a note on a server’s receipt with praise about their work.  That’s just one example.  At a local theme park I often strike a quick conversation with the workers and tell them how grateful I am that they work there, because without them the park couldn’t run.  They don’t hear that enough.  I guarantee you.  Tell them how polite they are, or how they’re one of the most cheerful of the help.  Whatever the case may be, simply tell them with a smile.  You will make their day.

Taking this a step further, tell their boss.  One habit I really enjoy is finding a really good worker and asking for their immediate manager.  They always look concerned.  (19 out of 20 times they are getting a complaint.)  I’ll point out the worker and say, “That person over there, I have a report on them…” or something to that extent.  Now the manager really looks concerned.  And I’ll remain very serious, but genuine, and say, “They are probably one of the best workers you have.  You’d be a fool to let them go.”  Then watch as their demeanor changes.  Watch as they smile and go to the worker to praise them as well.  Sometimes in front of the other staff.

Most of the time in the corporate setting the majority of feedback a worker gets is criticism with tiny, tiny, tiny tidbits of praise.  So miniscule that the criticism is where the focus is.  Your public recognition of their hard work will make a difference.  All too often we simply want our food and only pay attention if the service is bad.  Try paying attention to when the service is good and see what results you get!

On two occasions, that I’m aware of, at a local restaurant I enjoy frequenting, I’ve seen staff that was really good at what they did promoted shortly after the public praise.  Was I a direct result of that?  I don’t know, but whatever the case, it probably helped.

Harry Gordon Selfridge, who started the Selfridge’s department stores in England, thought it was so important to lead staff rather than boss staff even wrote about it in his book, “The Romance of Commerce.”  This was written in 1918, when employment laws were much worse than they are today.  Few felt the need to praise the help, especially employers.  Why would they?  They were employees, why would they need any recognition for just doing their job?  Mr.  Selfridge thought differently and was known for publicly and loudly praising staff on a job well done.  He wrote in his book, “A boss drives his men, a leader coaches them; a boss depends on authority, a leader on goodwill; a boss knows how it is done, a leader shows how.”  He goes on to show the difference and the importance of recognition.   It’s easy.

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5.       Be Present and Listen:

Sometimes the only thing a friend needs is your presence.  Words will matter little, and advice will matter even less.  I cannot tell level of gratitude I had when life had kicked me to the curb and a friend made it known that they were there for me.  They didn’t give advice, they didn’t try to steer or control the situation, and they just listened.  Because really that is all I needed.

On the other side, I have had times where I just needed the presence of a friend, but instead got a lecture.  Often the lecturer knew as little about the topic, trouble, or situation, as I did.  But were eager to give ill-informed advice nonetheless.  To be on the receiving end isn’t fun, but because you’re friends you also do not want to burst their often self-righteous bubble.  Their intention is good, but the delivery is something to be desired.

Being present is a bit of an art form.  To be present is to allow your spirit to connect to theirs by empathizing to the nature of the drama, so to speak.  Empathizing to their spirit, their pain or wound, and not offering advice.  Simply listening, allowing yourself to walk through the course, concerned, but strong because you are there.  By exploring this walk you learn as much about your spirit as you do theirs, often.

There have been a number of times, eager to give advice; I know I had overstepped my bounds by trying to be a mouthpiece, rather than just being present.  However, the times I’ve stopped, listened, learned, and reached out, I learned as much about myself as I did them.  I prevented myself from judging and simply allowed myself to learn.  To seek the words I was hearing and pull them deep.  Perhaps see if I too had a similar wound.  And if not, to try and allow myself to feel what it must be like.

When I was much younger and went camping with my grandparents, I would often sit in the campgrounds with my grandfather on lawn chairs, watching nature.  Not a word would be spoken, but the presence of one another was enough to be meaningful beyond normal understanding.  It was as though watching the trees, birds, and river flow, allowed us to grow spiritually like nature itself.  Those moments, watching the Sun dive beneath the evergreens in the mountains and hearing the river murmur to the trees, are like gold.  In recent years I try hard to be that presence to friends who need it or family who needs it.

All of these examples are just simple ways of changing the world near you.  I’m sure many of you could find hundreds of other examples, these are just my favorite.  There are numerous ways to change the world to a more positive way, but you have to start somewhere.  Rather than expressing an armchair opinion on an over-opinionated forum, stand up and begin doing something about it.  One day, you’ll look back and be grateful you did.  And those nearest to you will be richer for it.

–William M Jeffries

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