Beyond bucks: 10 ways to make a difference
Have you ever thought of making a difference but didn't know how to get started? Here are 10 ways to make a difference at little to no cost. Let,s get started!
I know, it sounds too simple, right? But did you know cracking a smile can make a huge impact, even brighten someone's day. “Let us always meet each other with smile, for the smile is the beginning of love.” This is one of many quotes by Mother Teresa who is, after all, a saint! She also said to smile even when it is difficult. Smiling may be easy, but smiling when it is difficult is something we all can relate to. So, why not give it a try? It doesn't cost anything, but the dividends to pay a gesture of kindness forward, is endless.
2. Be a true friend
True friends are hard to find. When we do find a friend that has our back no matter what, it is a great feeling. When I was a Brownie in Girl Scouts, we were taught the value of friendship at an early age by singing: "make new friends but keep the old, one is silver and the other gold." It sounds like being a true friend is a precious gift. And it is. Some are better at it than others. However, it doesn't cost a thing to make friendships a priority.
3. Show your appreciation
Yes, its true, there are many people who are just so darn pleasant to be around! Whether its the local barista that makes your morning cup of joe, that co-worker who seems to be happy all the time who lifts the mood at work, or that person who helped you in unexpected ways that made your day even more special. Now, if we could just let them know how much we appreciate them. You would be amazed at how much kindness goes unappreciated or is taken for gratitude. Make it a point to let someone know how much you appreciate them.
4. Be Nice
Today, people have a tendency to be snarky. At times, snark appears to be a new norm on how we engage with one another. Deep manners never go out of style, neither does being courteous and showing others respect. Sure, banter here and there never hurt anyone in a conversation, at least I hope not! Why not resolve to be nice, even when it may be difficult (I can feel you gritting your teeth). It will be okay.
5. Wish Someone a Great Day!
Have you ever met someone in passing and thought to yourself, " Wow I just had a great conversation that person!" Next thing you know the two of you must part ways and that awkward silence kicks in on which of you will say the last thing to round off such a great exchange. How about a big, "You know what, bumping into you was such a pleasant surprise. Have a great day!" You may have just met a new best friend.
6. Write a Letter to a Friend or Family Member
There are few things as thoughtful as writing a handwritten letter or note on beautiful stationary and send it to someone to let them know that you were thinking of them. A good letter is always well received and appreciated. I grew up with my Great-Grandmother who lived to be 96 years old. Her nieces and nephews told us stories about how they had received letters from her regularly, even leading up to her passing. Something so simple as a letter, made such an impact. You can do the same. Snail mail may cost a stamp, but the end result is worth it.
7. Learn the Art of Listening
There's a temptation to check our electronic devices non-stop. We are well-meaning but it is very easy to get distracted. Being attentive and not just hearing someone, but truly listen to them, is bound to show our friends and loved ones how much we value them. This in turn has a positive effect on you both. Why not give it a try? Put down your devices or set a rule that in the presence of someone whether there is a personal need or not, give your full attention and listen carefully. They just may smile and tell you how much they appreciate you!
8. Perform a Random Act of Kindness
I know performing a random act of kindness may sound a little predictable. But hear me out. My personal favorite is paying for the meal of the person behind me at the drive thru. It could be any fast food chain. Each time my meal or beverages has been paid by someone else as an act of kindness, I felt like a little angel was looking out for me. Imagine the impact of someone paying for the burger that you just scrounged up enough change to buy? Now, that's a good burger! This act of kindness is simple and, oh so kind of you. For those pros at making random acts of kindness their modus operandi, cheers!
Local shelters and food banks need replenishing a regular basis. There are local shelters for the homeless, also for battered woman and children. Gently used clothing and toys will bring a smile to a family in need. Donations especially during the winter months in areas with a colder climate, or during relief efforts for people displaced due to wild fires, flooding, tornadoes and hurricanes helps tremendously. You can do a great amount of good and make a difference at little to no cost at all.
10. Practice Conservation
It may not seem like not running water while you brush your teeth, or refraining from long hot showers wouldn't make much of a difference. Same goes for shutting off lights in rooms when no longer in use. These seemingly small habits appear to be non-consequential. At home, my children are concerned about the detrimental effects of our garbage on ocean life. For their concerns, I am proud that they are aware of their impact on our environment. The small things they do allow them feel like they make a difference. No matter how small, you too can make a difference!