It’s easy to be negative and pessimistic after reading the news, and you may feel powerless to change things. You don’t have control over the decisions of politicians, the actions of major corporations, or even the habits of the people around you. However, there are many steps the average person can take to improve the world around them—and most of them can be done right now.
Doing good things for the people around you (and for the world at large) not only makes a positive difference in the world, but it makes you feel better about yourself. With the strategies that follow, you’ll be able to make a positive impact without a dramatic expenditure of time or money.
Easy Ways to Make a Difference
Try these small actions and habit changes to make a positive difference:
1. Think carefully about where you buy your products.
You probably buy lots of products on a regular basis, from the groceries that keep your family fed to the clothes and accessories you wear. But not all vendors or retailers are equally beneficial to the world at large; sometimes, buying a product from a different vendor can help you (and them) make a difference. For example, there are companies like the Water Watch Company, a brand that sells watches; for each watch sold, they provide clean water to someone in need for their entire lifetime. If you’re going to buy the product anyway, it might as well be from an organization that’s making a positive impact in the world.
2. Pick up litter. Litter is unsightly.
It’s bad for the environment. And in some cases, it can pose a danger to both wildlife and people. To make matters worse, it’s everywhere—in parks, on streets, and maybe in your yard if you live close to a heavily traveled road. Spending just a few minutes picking up litter can make a positive impact; if everyone committed to this habit, litter could cease to be a problem.
3. Smile and nod.
Simply smiling and nodding or greeting the people you encounter can instantly make their day better; it’s a display of positivity that shows you acknowledge them. It’s also ridiculously simple; it costs you nothing and expends almost no effort. As an added bonus, smiling can “trick” your brain into feeling happy, so try it even if you’re in a bad mood.
4. Donate money to a good cause.
If you have some extra money, you can take a few minutes to donate that money to a good cause. There are thousands of worthy charities all around the world, contributing to causes like cancer research, poverty relief, and other humanitarian efforts. It shouldn’t take long to find and research a charity of choice, and even a few dollars can make a difference.
5. Pay compliments.
Just like smiling and nodding, a compliment can make someone’s day. Find something you like about the person, whether it’s their behavior, their choices, or something about their physical appearance. As long as it’s a sincere and respectful compliment, they’re going to feel incredible. Pay compliments to people you know and complete strangers alike.
6. Volunteer your time (remotely if possible).
Volunteering your time is one of the best things you can do to make a difference in the world. Chances are, there are many organizations in your area actively looking for people like you. Use a service like VolunteerMatch to find the right opportunity. If you don’t have much time, or don’t want to leave the house, you may be able to donate your time remotely, making phone calls, entering data, or completing other tasks that benefit the organization.
7. Plant native species.
Gardening can relieve stress and beautify your surroundings; if you don’t have a gardening space of your own, you can start one in your neighborhood. Plant species that are native to your environment, which will benefit local insects and wildlife in addition to providing a pleasant visual for the people around you.
8. Share your knowledge or skills.
Finally, consider sharing your knowledge or skills. Chances are, there’s at least one area in which you excel. Consider finding a student or an apprentice who’s interested in that area; passing on your knowledge can be profoundly meaningful to both of you.
Finding What’s Important to You
There are many ways to improve the world around you, from donating resources to the people who need them to benefitting your environment. If you want to feel even better about yourself and make a bigger impact, spend some time thinking about which causes matter most to you, personally. Research various causes and find one that fills you with motivation.
This content is sponsored by Larry Alton.
Photo credit: Shutterstock