I recently posted something funny on my personal Facebook page.
Just kind of an aside, really, like we all do. I didn’t put much thought into the post, but it generated a profound response. A friend of mine read it, and in a comment, referred to something I had written for her ages ago, as a goodbye gift when she left a job we shared. To be honest? I had no idea what she was talking about. Genuinely–I had no recollection of what I had written for her, and felt kind of bad that I couldn’t remember something that seemed to have touched her so deeply.
That’s how it is though, in life. Many times, we’re under the assumption that making a difference in the world requires big effort, or big action. We look for ways to volunteer in heroic organizations because we think that making the difference in someone’s life requires an epic undertaking. Nope. Big actions are great, but you can make a difference in someone’s life without realizing it. Sometimes, it’s the small things we say or do that can make a change in the life of another. Want to hear more?…
Here’s a list of 50 ways for you to make a difference by spreading quiet kindness throughout the world.
- Go through your bookshelves, and donate any unwanted books to your local literacy association.
- Pay for the next person’s coffee when you’re in line.
- The next time you’re grocery shopping, dedicate ten dollars to purchasing something specifically for a donation. As examples, get pet food for an animal shelter or cleaning products for your local domestic violence shelter.
- Compliment someone you don’t know when you’re in a public setting, such as a store or restaurant. Tell them something positive about how they look, or admire something they are wearing.
- Hold the door open for someone you don’t know.
- Send a surprise note or gift card to somebody you haven’t spoken to in a long time.
- Offer to babysit a friend’s child, for free. (Just because you know your friend needs a break).
- Leave a bowl of water by your front door, for any of your neighborhood pets that are out and about.
- Offer to drive an older person to the store, library or movies, because you know they don’t get out much.
- Leave a crazy-big tip for your server the next time you get great service, instead of the standard twenty percent.
- Intentionally don’t respond when someone says or does something that makes you angry. Just gently smile, and let the moment go.
- Bring in your neighbor’s trash can, too.
- While you’re at it, thank the person who is loading all of the garbage and taking it away in those big trucks in the first place. (You think your job is bad?…)
- Drop off a batch of cookies, or maybe a fruit basket, to your doctor’s office, with a note thanking the staff for helping to keep you healthy.
- Phone your mom.
- Greet the person who rings you up at the grocery store–by name. It’s right there on the tag pinned to his or her shirt.
- Ask an older person to tell you about their happiest day on Earth so far, and then listen–really listen–to what they share.
- Intentionally don’t honk back.
- Make a point at smiling at every single person you see today–no matter what they look like.
- Phone an old boss, and tell them how they helped you develop into the business person you are today.
- Introduce yourself to your neighbors. Intentionally go beyond the house or apartment on either side of you, and meet those neighbors, too.
- Refer that friend of yours who has started their own business to three of your contacts.
- Go alphabetically through the people saved in your phone, and call one person each day, to just catch up with those who matter to you.
- Thank a police officer, military service member, firefighter or EMT the next time you see one. Their work keeps you safe.
- Track down your favorite teacher on Facebook, and send them a note to tell them know important they were to you.
***Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does. William James ***
- Grab a bunch of inexpensive flowers from the store, and drop them off at a nearby nursing home for their community room.
- Offer to wheel an older person’s shopping cart to their car for them, and unload their groceries.
- Don’t roll your eyes the next time you see a mom trying to manage her unruly children in public. Offer a smile, instead.
- Make a point to say ‘thank you’ to people who have helped you.
- Intentionally think, ‘how can I make a difference’ when you are with people, and look for quiet ways to offer kindness, no matter your setting. Then do it. Don’t just think about it–do it.
- Phone your spouse/significant other during the workday, and thank them for their labor, just because of the difference it makes in your lives together.
- Leave a thank you card for the anonymous person who cleans your work station after you go home each day.
- Invite the new person at work out to lunch on their first day, since they won’t know anyone, and will be unsure what happens at lunch time.
- Ask to speak to the manager, and tell them what fantastic service you received from the person who helped you, instead of just driving away from a good experience.
- Let someone go ahead of you in line, just because.
- Email your favorite band, actor or author, and let them know how their work inspires you.
- See if you can get through an entire day without using the word “I”, so instead, you can really listen out for the needs of others.
- Take ten minutes to meditate, pray or reflect, and quietly request more kindness for our world.
- Put down your phone. Look at the world, and the people within it, the next time you have to wait somewhere. Smile. Listen. See.
- The next time you’re at the store, take 15 minutes and browse through the gift card section. When a card makes you think of someone specific, buy it for them, and then send it, to let that person know they crossed your mind.
- Tell someone you don’t know personally that they’re doing a good job, when you see them hustling in their work environment.
- Pick up trash that isn’t yours.
- Say ‘hello’, ‘goodbye’ and ‘you did a great job today’ to the people you work with.
- Tuck a note into your loved one’s purse, wallet or lunch, and let them know they are loved.
- Stand up for someone who needs it.
- Don’t comment on a viral thread, post or meme that is based on anger. Just let it go.
- Go at least one day without eating any meat.
- Realize your own frame of mind is the starting point in how you make the difference to those lives around you. If you recognize you’ve gotten out of the wrong side of bed, get back in and start over.
- Ask for permission, if you’re unsure, instead of just crashing along. Whatever the circumstance, it’s easier to ask for permission than forgiveness.
- Say ‘I love you’, out loud, to someone who needs to hear it today.
It’s easy, in this crazy world, to feel as though you don’t matter.
Genuinely though–through your choices, you can make the difference in someone’s life without even realizing it. I encourage you to not buy in to our current world view of looking out only for yourself, and instead, approach each setting with one thought in mind: ‘how can I make a difference’.
It’s easier thank you think, Friend.
So go. Make a difference.
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**Chanler Jeffers has seen many extraordinary things over her lifetime. An adventurer, survivor, overachiever and advocate of kindness in all instances, she has been awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the American Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE), and is a member of their Circle of Champions. She has had the good fortune to live and travel all over the world, grew up as a military dependent and was a single parent for many years. She has survived cancer, and gently shaped countless people over her years on this little planet we call home. Follow along as she shares her knowledge, her experience and her love. Oh, by the way–one more thing. She’s married to a Bass playing rock star, lucky girl.