Often, the problems of the world seem overwhelming. We see something horrible on the news, or read an article about a group of people suffering somewhere, and it just feels like too much. What can I do? I ask myself. Nothing really, I usually answer.
But I want to help, and I think I’m far from alone in that. One way that all of us can work to make things better is by thinking local. We might not be able to wave a magic wand and end world hunger, but each of us has the power to take action to make our communities a better place to live.
Indeed, I like to ask myself, “how can I breathe some life into my community?”
This doesn’t have to be a big and complicated question. We don’t all have to go out and open a food bank or run for the school board (although those are great ideas!) Instead, we can take lots of little actions that begin to add up over time. Here’s a really simple place to start:
Every morning, make a commitment to offer a kind word to the people you come across during your day.
Take a moment to picture everyone you encounter during a typical day. Start with the people you live with — your family or roommates. Then broaden your gaze to include your colleagues and co-workers, friends, teachers, students, anyone you see regularly. Take a moment to think about the people working behind the counter at Starbucks, Whole Foods, your local farmers’ market, or wherever else you usually shop. You might not know their names, but they’re a regular part of your life too.
Now think about what happens if you make an effort to be kind to each of those people when you see them. This can be so simple: a smile here and a greeting there. Nothing complicated. But if you do it each time you see someone, you can end up affecting five or ten or fifty people every day. Each of those people might be inspired to pass your kindness along to someone they encounter. It’s like a circle of kindness, expanding outward from you.
We won’t ever know how many people we end up helping just by giving a smile or a greeting. It’s not anything glamorous and we can’t put it on a resume. But all of us can do it, and it does make a difference.
Pretty cool, right? :)