I’ve always wanted to change the world.  I’ve wanted to make it a better place since I was a little girl and often my parents would praise me for having such a grandiose passion to do so.  However, they would also gently remind me to stay focused and  work on myself.

In my twenties, I worked at a homeless shelter to complete my internship requirements for college.  What I didn’t know was that every day I had the chance to impact someone deeply, to connect with them on a human level.

You see, at first, I thought I would be completing administrative type work and I would have little contact with the residents at the shelter.

I was wrong.

I was immediately placed in the role as a case manager.  I greeted new families arriving at the shelter, assessed their needs, their current struggles and came up with a plan to find them future housing, food, clothing, suitable schooling for their children and immediate employment.

All of these tasks sounded, well, by the book.  What I didn’t know was this:  I would be their confidant, their best friend, a representation of hope, someone to cry to, someone to yell at, someone to be angry with, someone they begged and pleaded for guidance to help them out of their tragic situation.

It was overwhelming.  It was hard work.  Every day I left crying my eyes out.  Because I knew deep down, there was so much work to do and I didn’t know how to make a huge impact immediately.

Fast forward to 5 years later.  I’m on my lunch break, sitting outside, people watching and enjoying the lovely summer breeze in downtown Minneapolis.  And suddenly I see him, a man I had helped at the homeless shelter years ago.

Because of the unique nature of the relationship, I didn’t approach the gentleman.  But by happenstance of the universe, he approached me.

“Ms. Tara! It’s me!”  I knew exactly who he was, I remembered his first and last name and his child’s name out of all the cases I had managed.  I remember the tears we shared, the laughter, the hope, the struggles and the raw human emotions we shared when I worked at the homeless shelter. I remembered his journey.

My former client went on to tell me about all the success he had, the hope he had for the future, how he and his son were not only living, but they were thriving.

We chatted for about 10 minutes, he thanked me for my strong belief in him and said our goodbyes.  He left me in a place where hope deeply touched my heart and it still does.  And it reminds me of this quote:

“It’s in your hands to make the world a better place.” Nelson Mandela

All it takes is one person to lift someone up.  You will never know the gravity of the ripples you will create with an act of kindness.

It only takes a small act of kindness to improve the energy in the room or brighten someone’s day.  A small act of kindness, thoughtfulness, a shared moment can make the world a better place.

Now, I don’t want you to think you need to be a world leader to make the world a better place, you can make a world a better place by treating everyone you meet with kindness.  It’s really that simple.

Here are a few simple ideas of how you can make the world a better place starting now:

1.  Donate Used Clothing

You know what feels amazing?  Putting on clothing that compliments your figure, that is appropriate for your daily affairs and is well cared for.  Make efforts every season to go through your closet and donate a few items to a local non-profit that will distribute the clothing appropriately.

2. Make You A Better Person

It’s one thing to aspire to go out in the world and spread happiness, kindness and help others, but it’s another thing to work on yourself.  When you work on you, when your self-care needs are being met, you create a better version of yourself.

“You make the world a better place by making yourself a better person.” – Sorrell

3. Volunteer

The service of volunteering can be done in many ways.  Maybe it’s helping a friend move, helping someone change a flat tire, watching a friends’ kids while they take a moment for themselves, or it could be working with an agency to serve others in a direct way.  Whatever it is, your time and resources can be put to good use.

4. Random Acts of Kindness

Start off at home.  What can you do for your significant other or a family member that is completely unexpected?  What can you do when you go about your daily affairs?  Could it be buying a cup of coffee for a stranger?  Taking on a household chore for someone at home?  The opportunities are endless.

5. Genuine Compliments

A few days ago, as I warming up on the treadmill at the gym, a lady next to me said hello and went out of her way to compliment me on my figure.  The compliment was genuine, unexpected and it brightened my entire day.

6. Start Your Own Initiative

In my twenties, I used to live in a busy city and would see homeless people daily. It broke my heart.  So, I took it upon myself to fill up a few backpacks full of clothing, non-perishable food and bus passes and would hand them out over the holidays.  It didn’t cost much and many of my friends chipped in.  What is something you can start?

7. Challenge Your Friends to Donate Food

It is the time of the year where people are feeling generous.  But let us not forget that people struggle year-round.  Make it a point to run a food drive every few months, year-round to help keep the shelves stocked at your local food bank.

8. Encourage our Youth

It’s one thing to teach our youth to be charitable, it’s another thing to lead by example and to have them join.  Encourage a child to be a leader, to be brave, to have the courage to stand up when life gets hard.

9. Complain Less

I know many of us have things we can complain about, but before you do, think to yourself:  What purpose do these words serve?  Most of the time, we don’t realize how often we complain and how it can impact those around us.  Choose silence instead.

10. Care For Animals

You could foster an animal, adopt an animal from a shelter, feed a stray, join a movement you are passionate about.  Animals are our friends and they need our help too!

These are just a few suggestions, the opportunities to make this world a better place is unlimited.  Every act of service you can provide has meaning and value to it, big or small.

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