When most people think about changing the world, they channel Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa, Ghandi, and other humanitarian heavyweights.
They think about big-picture, long-term, legacy work. Work that takes an entire lifetime to start, and is never really finished.
Of course, legacy work is great. In fact, you should really think about the impression you will leave on the world, sooner rather than later.
But people tend to forget about the small stuff –– the tiny actions that can actually make a big difference in people’s days.
You probably know the standard ones: holding doors open, saying please and thank you, and generally being nice. We’d like to give you a few more ways to spread love that you may not have considered:
1. Ask for and remember people’s names.
There are tons of people in our life that we see on a daily basis, but might not often engage with. Mailmen, work acquaintances, next-door neighbors, baristas, and the like.
If you haven’t already, take the initial step and ask them their name during your next interaction. Something as simple as, “I know we see each other often, but I’ve realized that I don’t know your name, and would like to change that. I’m [your name]. What’s yours?”
Then, once you officially meet Joe, Alexandra, Rob, Maria, or Charlie, do whatever memory technique you need to to remember him or her.
The next time you see them, use their name. This simple change makes people feel recognized and appreciated.
2. Send an e-card.
When was the last time you got an e-card? They might have been more common five or ten years ago, but now, much like getting a handwritten letter, they’re a lovely novelty.
You might even opt to send it to a friend or loved one’s work email for an unexpected message in the midst of the 9 to 5.
3. Go get $20 in ones.
Whether you live in a city or in a one-stoplight town, you will come across many moments where giving small amounts of money is requested.
Sometimes it’s a busker, playing a Bob Dylan song on an acoustic guitar, a child fundraising for a class field trip with candy bars, people collecting for a cause, or a down-on-their-luck individual needing help getting some food.
Our common excuse is that in this digital world, we just don’t have any cash on us. Stuff some ones in your glovebox or wallet, and don’t allow yourself that reason to not help.
4. Start a take-a-book-leave-a-book in your office or workplace.
People normally congregate around two main things in an office setting: food and coffee. Use such a location in your workspace to give people another reason to stop by: a free book. See if you can get a box or shelf somewhere in the office kitchen, and ask a few friends to leave some good paperbacks they can part with to start it off.
Announce the spot in an email or however your team normally communicates, and watch the literary sharing unfold.
5. Pay for the next person’s coffee order.
6. Leave an amazing tip.
It seems like everywhere online these days, there’s a picture of an awful receipt that someone left a waitress, with something racist, sexist, or xenophobic scrawled at the bottom.
As if waiters/waitresses and others in the service industry didn’t have to deal with enough already. Dare to undo the negativity with a healthy tip with a smiley face for good measure.
Trust me, they will notice.
7. Make eye contact and smile at the cashier.
This last one seems like common sense. But pay attention the next time you’re at the grocery store, gas station, or mall. So many of the transactions today are automated, that we barely have to interact with each other anymore. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t.
The next time you buy something at a cash register, look up from your phone, and smile at the cashier. It will be worth the three seconds it takes to do so.
So, while you’re dreaming about becoming the next great world leader or humanitarian that will change the world, remember that each day presents boundless opportunities to do so on a small scale in your corner of the globe.
Pick one, two, all seven, or invent a list of your own.
You could bookmark this page and plan to do it later.
But here’s hoping that you choose today.
Let's change the world.
Who wrote this?
Gina Edwards, Impact Explorer founder and lover of all pun jokes, making a positive change in the world, Stephen Colbert, Jif Peanut Butter, and staying inside on rainy days. Order may vary.