I truly believe the thoughts we carry in our minds have a big impact on the lives we lead; like the old computer saying, “garbage in, garbage out.” If our thoughts are always focused on the negative, can we truly be surprised when our lives turn out poorly? Not that optimists lead only fulfilled lives, but I suspect the chances are optimists will take the negative and spin it to be a positive.
What are your first thoughts upon waking? Do you thank God for the many blessings you have or do you immediately focus on the bills, the lack of job security, marriage troubles and kids that stretch your patience? One of the things I’ve learned is my waking thoughts often set the tone for the day which has helped me focus on the positive as I climb up from the depths of slumber.
I used to awaken and concentrate on doing great things for the world however I came to realize one doesn’t change the world in a day. So now I ask God to help me make a difference in my small part of the world. Within my family, my sphere of work and the influence I have on friends and others I meet. That usually means doing small acts of kindness and paying it forward in ways that may only touch a few, but will have a ripple effect that reaches way beyond my sphere of influence. Here are just a few ways I’ve found I can make a small difference in the lives of others each day:
- Do something unnoticed: We all like to be acknowledged for the good we do in our world, but I think personally it’s more important to do acts of kindness that perhaps no one notices. Picking up trash on the ground, anonymous donations to groups you support or donating things you don’t use anymore to a homeless or other organization. Don’t do it for the recognition and in fact, do it and hope no one knows it was you. Click here to go to the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation website for more ideas on this topic.
- Pay it forward: I recently heard of someone in the drive through at a fast-food restaurant who paid for her order and the order of the car behind her. As a result of this small act of kindness, the next nine people all paid for those in line behind them. Other small ways to pay it forward include putting money in a parking meter that pays for the next person, bypassing a parking space close to the entrance of a store so someone who needs to park close by can, paying a toll for the car behind you, giving sincere praise to someone who helps you during the day, holding a door open for someone or giving blood. The list is endless and these small acts give us a sense of making a difference each day.
- Send a thank you note: Handwritten thank you notes are rare in these days of email and texting which is why they are appreciated. Send one to a customer thanking them for their order, to a friend, a family member, to someone who has touched your life positively in some way (former teacher?) or how about a random note to someone serving our country or our community. Express your appreciation in the note and say thank you, two of the most powerful words in the English language.
- Make a call: Similarly, people too rarely pick up the telephone any more to communicate on a personal level. Call a friend or family member you haven’t spoken with in a while. Instead of writing an email, use the telephone to convey the message. Call someone you admire or who is doing good for others and simply say thank you, perhaps anonymously. These types of calls often change the tone of someone’s day and can help them overcome challenges they may be facing. A friendly call is always welcomed.
- Volunteer: Do you have a favorite cause or charity? If you aren’t already, spend time volunteering with that organization or any other that you feel passionate about. Doing for others is not only a way to get outside yourself and see how others live; it’s also good for our souls. Volunteering is a way to share your skills or maybe discover talents you didn’t realize you possessed. This is an area I need to work on by first of all finding a cause I want to be a part of and then spending time volunteering with that group.
What a difference a day can make and we’d love you to share your comments about what you do to set the tone for your days and other methods you’ve found helpful.
May all your days be blessed and may you find ways each day to make a difference in your small part of the world.
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