“What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of a difference you want to make.” (Jane Goodall)
Most people probably don’t think about the difference that they make in the world because they mistakenly believe that making a difference means doing something really big or significant. In reality, one makes a difference with each interaction with another person. The key is Goodall’s observation that what kind and how much of a difference you make depends upon what you do at that moment.
Very many of us tend not to notice or acknowledge other people that we pass during the day or even try overtly to avoid making eye contact or saying anything. Some may even try to avoid specific people, because they just don’t want to spend the time talking to them. Maybe you know someone who is always down or complaining and you just don’t feel like sharing time with them because you don’t want to let them bring you down, too. This is probably the type of person for whom the term “Gloomy Gus” was invented.
If you are like that, you have made a conscious decision not to make a positive difference in the lives of the other people. I know a lady, who is a life coach, who uses the motto, “Making a positive difference in other people’s lives”. Most of us probably don’t start each day with that motto in mind; however, if we start each day without a thought like that in mind we have defaulted to indifference and have created an indifferent world for ourselves. We do not make a difference and that is just sad.
One doesn’t have to be a bubbly, cheerleader type person to at least be friendly during the day – to greet others with a smile and a friendly, “Hello” or “How Are you?” greeting. You might be surprised to find out that your friendly greeting may have caused that person to reset their mood from negative to positive. You made a positive difference in their day. You may also notice that it made your day a lot better, too. You may never know what that person whom you influenced was able to do today, but it started with you. You made a positive difference.
There will be many other times during the day to interact with others in ways that are either uplifting and positive or negative and maybe even hurtful. Have you decided what kind of difference you want make today? The choice is up to you. You may not be able to do big things that will change the world all at once, but you can change the world one person at a time by the choices that you make today.
What kind of difference do you want to make? Maybe you can say a little prayer before you start out on your day and ask God to help you make a positive difference during the day. I’m pretty sure that you wouldn’t pray that God help you be a grump all day.
“Everything is going to be alright, maybe not today, but eventually, because beautiful things happen in life when you distance yourself from all the negative things.” (Unknown)
As we start a new week, we once again have choices to make which will impact how we view things, react to things or let things affect us. We are constantly bombarded by negative things in the news, since the news media thinks we want to see and hear about the misfortunes of others, or at least the sensational bad things that happen in the world around us. In our daily lives both good and bad things happen all around us and we choose which we will focus upon. We encounter people as we go through the day and we can choose to greet them with suspicion and cynicism or with a smile and an open mind.
We can’t really be like the cartoon characters who loudly yell “La, La, La”, in an attempt to ignore or not hear the bad things in life; however, we don’t have to focus upon them or feel obligate to react to them or let them drag us down. Some people might misinterpret your lack of negative response as being uncaring; but just the opposite is true – you care; but, you just refuse to let it overwhelm you and change your approach to life and towards others. In fact, you care enough to remain upbeat and positive to help others out of their funk.
The British created the saying “Keep calm and carry on” as an expression of this approach
to life. The sometimes stoic British ability to remain calm in the face of great danger or threat, especially during World War II, was what Winston Churchill tapped into in his famous speech that exhorted his people to “never give up.”
In our daily lives it is important to pause when negative or bad things happen before reacting to them. I’ve written here in the past about being able to say, “So what” to those things; to be able to put them into perspective and realize that most will not have the dramatic and dreaded impacts on our lives that we might initially think. After all, if you’re still there to think about them; and well, you’re still there. It didn’t kill you and that a good start and a positive thing.
So, instead of spending any more time dwelling on that past incident, take the advice of today’s little quote and distance yourself from that and all negative things. Focus instead on finding the beautiful things that are also happening in your life. Meet someone new and perhaps make a new friend. Try something new and perhaps discover a new passion. Look for the rainbows in life and not the dark clouds
“You’ve got a lot of choices. If getting out of bed in the morning is a chore and you’re not smiling on a regular basis, try another choice.” – Steven D. Woodhull
Sometimes it’s hard to put a smile on your face right away in the morning, before you’ve even had your cup of coffee; but maybe you should keep these thoughts in mind – you woke up again and it’s a new day – both are better than the alternatives, so smile. You’ll be surprised what a great, positive impact seeing a smiling face can have on people; even if it’s just you looking back at yourself in the mirror. Perhaps seeing yourself smile will conjure up all of the reasons and things that you have to smile about. That just reinforces the positive attitude that your smile belies.
Sometimes you may wake up a bit down, perhaps from some left-over problem from yesterday. A smile will still help and you should consider the words of Paul Ian Guillermo – “If you feel happy, smile with all your heart. if you’re down, smile with all your might.” Putting on a smiling face when you’re hurting or sad or frightened or angry is hard; but it is probably in those moments that forcing yourself to smile might help you the most. One positive impact is that people will be more likely to welcome you and converse with your if you are smiling. Many people try to avoid someone who is frowning out of anger or “down in the mouth” due to sadness.
A secondary effect of smiling is that it is not a natural things for most people, so it takes a bit of focus and work. That effort can take your mind a bit off whatever might have been troubling you or it can turn you ambivalence into a positive attitude. Manoj Arora offers this little tidbit – “Be like a duck, paddling and working very hard under the water, but what everyone sees is a smiling and calm face.”
So, what choice will you make today and tomorrow? Start your days off right by choosing to get up with a smile. Don’t worry as much about “What’s in your wallet” as about what’s on your face. Let that be a smile.