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25 Ways to Make a Difference in the World Every Day

“The way to gain a good reputation is to endeavor to be what you desire to appear.” ~Socrates

When I started Tiny Buddha, my main goal was to make a positive difference. I think that’s a goal many of us share.

I’ve stumbled upon countless blog and books written by people who say their purpose in life is to help people.

I suspect it’s how most of us infuse our lives with meaning: trying to somehow leave the world a better place than we found it.

I recently read a somewhat old blog post by ex-Microsoft employee Scott Berkun that got me thinking about this collective fascination with making a difference in the world. He wrote:

“We rarely need big things. As soon as someone starts talking about changing the world or radically reinventing something odds are good he’s talking from his ego, not his heart. Unless he’s working on bringing safety to the scared, health to the sick, or opportunity to the poor, the reinvention serves a want (or an ego), not a need.”

He went to explain how on his last day at Microsoft, he gave a lecture and one of his colleagues thanked him for the first time, saying he’d never expressed his admiration before because he assumed it was apparent. According to Scott:

“…it takes a better man to acknowledge goodness in others than it does to merely be good oneself. Anyone can criticize or accept praise, but initiating a positive exchange is a hallmark of a difference maker.”

What a beautiful idea. I couldn’t agree more.

Still, I don’t know if it’s possible to completely relinquish the ego, and I also don’t know if that’s a bad thing. I suspect some of the people who invented or reinvented “big things” to bring safety to the scared, health to the sick, or opportunity to the poor were, at least on some level, driven by the desire to be remembered for making a difference.

It’s human nature to want to create some type of legacy—to not just do good things but also be known for them. There’s no need to vilify that type of desire when you consider it’s primal in all of us.

So much is uncertain in life, particularly what happens after we die. We can’t understand or control where we’re going, but we can influence what we leave behind. Why feel guilty for natural human instincts when those same instincts contribute to a lot of the good in the world?

That being said, we can simultaneously make major contributions to society—both to help other people and feel good about our choices—while making a difference in our everyday lives. We can do things both large and small, for others and ourselves, every day if we choose to.

With that in mind, I recently asked on the Tiny Buddha Facebook page. Some of my favorite responses include:

1. Wake up. ~Karen Maezen Miller

2. Make a difference in yourself, for the better. Such an inward difference always has rippling outward benefits. ~Hansoul Kim

3. Remember there are three poisons: greed, anger, and ignorance. Do not deny their existence but turn them around and you have generosity, compassion, and wisdom. ~Clifton Bradley

4. Make it a habit to respect everyone. ~Margarita Medina

5. Consider the people you see each day. Sometimes I get wrapped up in things I am working on— fundraisers etc. But the coworker, family member, pet right next to you are the people you can truly reach and touch. ~Amy E. Moore

6. Operate from a place of love. ~ Erika Gonzalez

7. Be kind to others. In this busy world people become self consumed and forget that kindness goes a long way. ~ Ana Stuckart

8. Acknowledge the light within myself and in others. Not always easy to do but feels so powerful when I am able to do so. ~Maria Thieme

9. Talk to someone that you think might be in distress. You may make the difference of a lifetime. ~Alexander De Raadt St.James

10. Simply show up. Just by put your soul into it. If you show up physically with the soles of your feet, the heart, mind, and soul will have a chance to follow or catch up. You may not want to be there in the beginning, but showing up allows a committed chance at making a difference everyday for the people you love, the people you will meet, and the eventual person you will become. Show up. ~Holli Grant

11. Smile. ~Seret Rafferty

12. Be more involved in the world. You can’t be spectator forever. ~Christina Breeden

13. Be the change you wish to see in the world! ~April Spears paraphrasing Gandhi

14. Be gentle and practice sympathetic joy. ~Susan Cross

15. Start really listening to the people around you. Your family for example. People crave for attention. People feel loved when given attention.. Give love. And listening is an act of love. ~Leoni Erica Tayamen

16. Listen. Give. Do. ~Phyllis Fenander

17. Teach your kids by example; be caring, open minded, have good manners and remember to smile. ~Paivi McKittrick

18. Look into your child’s eyes. Stop what you are doing, sit down, and just look into them. Do that every day and you will change the world. ~Noel Cocca

19. Be a true you…positive energy attracts. ~Jane George

20. Love. ~Stephen Kreins

21. I quote the great Horatio Lee Jenkins: “Don’t worry—everything is going to be awesome!” ~Carl Dangers

22. Find someone that needs a smile and give them that smile, once a day for the rest of your life, and like a ripple in a pond it will be carried onwards. ~SoulLife Searcher

23. Speak without saying a word. A lot can be said without words. ~Ralph Rocha

24. Learn to be aware of all the wonder we have around us, let the past be in the past and not part of the future. Choose life every day, be grateful for whatever you have, and most important share, share, share—spread as much love as you can. ~Lula Insfran

25. Hakuna mattata, one love, pay it forward. ~Kerin Colby

How are you making a difference in the world?

Photo by Tony the Misfit

Avatar of Lori Deschene

About Lori Deschene

Tiny Buddha Founder Lori Deschene is the author of the Tiny Wisdom eBook series and co-founder of Recreate Your Life Story, an eCourse that helps you change your life. She's now seeking stories for her next book, 365 Tiny Love Challenges from Tiny Buddha. Click here to share your story and follow on Facebook for inspiring posts and wisdom quotes.

Announcement: Wish you could change your past? Learn to let go and create a life you love with the Tiny Buddha course!
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  • http://www.simplifyingthesimplelife.com Lisa

    It is common to get overwhelmed with the scope of problems and your desire to help, and become apathetic in the process. I find it helps me to break things down and realize that the simplest, littlest things really are significant. I like to write about people who are doing good work, as it motivates me to take action – here is an example!
    http://bit.ly/aH6FsA
    Thanks for the wonderful, inspiring site!
    -Lisa

  • Karen

    I love this post – so much to add to my life. Thank you for “resetting” my focus!

  • Tom

    I LOVE that you put a Horatio Lee Jenkins quote in there, tiny buddha has now reached a new plateau of “cool”.

  • Tom

    I LOVE that you put a Horatio Lee Jenkins quote in there, tiny buddha has now reached a new plateau of “cool”.

  • Tee Fimmano

    Great article, Lori! A lot of people think you have to do something on a grand scale to make a difference in the world. But I have found my calling and it’s quite simple. I validate people. Everybody wants to feel good about themselves, and paying someone a sincere compliment or pointing out something positive you see in them, can make their day. Yes, it plays into their ego, but that’s not a bad thing. We need healthy, well balanced egos to thrive. Putting a smile on someone’s face is priceless!

  • Sud_lama

    Simply gr8 article.No words to describe how good it is.Truely motivating in a person’s life.Can bring a gr8 change in anyone’s life.Thank you very much.

  • http://twitter.com/pungleDOTorg pungle

    Another easy way to make a difference everyday, shop at http://pungle.org

    (gives to charity at no cost to you)

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thanks Tee! What a wonderful calling. That actually reminds me of one of my favorite YouTube videos. Have you ever seen Validation?

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Well I can’t actually take credit for that…but thanks to Carl Dangers!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You are most welcome!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    I’m so glad you enjoyed it Karen!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thank you for the link, Lisa. What a wonderful site!

  • Tee Fimmano

    Hey, Lori! Yes I have seen it!! EVERYONE should see it!!! LOL

  • Sarahj_007

    Hi Lori, Thank you for this post, it made a difference in my day and I shared it on my Facebook page!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Fantastic! I’m so glad you enjoyed it Sarah!

  • Pingback: 25 ways to make a Difference in the World Everyday | Truth Is Scary

  • http://www.gotsomethingtotalkabout.com just2thinkabout

    I enjoyed this and will share with our readers. Thank you.

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  • http://LaFincaRetreat.wordpress.com/ Andrea Friedmann

    I love that you got suggestions from other people, you wind up gathering all that good energy and transmitting it here!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    I’m glad you enjoyed it! =)

  • Pingback: THINKING ABOUT WHAT MATTERS « Emotfit's Blog

  • zion

    How about making a difference just by clicking here: 
                                           
                                           http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CwYuQtWi9Wc

    and watching this video?  Every one who watches this video will help to make a donation to provide clean drinking water to Africa! Check it out and spread the word!

                                          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CwYuQtWi9Wc

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Hi Zion,

    Thanks for sharing this inspiring video! Are you making the donation to provide drinking water in Africa?

    Lori

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thanks for sharing this inspiring video. (I deleted my first comment because I hadn’t yet watched the full thing.) What a wonderful thing he’s doing to inspire other people and give back.

  • Alexander

    “The measure of a man’s real character is what he would do if he knew he never would be found out.” 
    ~Thomas Babington Macaulay

    Thank you for this post! Good thing to, as Karen puts it, “get your focus reset”.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You are most welcome! =)

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  • Bluebirdhp

    Start caring and loving each living thing from natural resources to bees and all animals that nature has given us with love that makes a great difference. 
    Stop arguing for anything and start listening that makes a great difference.Stop keeping anger and free it as you would free the bird from its cage and let it fly away. You are the one to decide either you want to keep the bird locked or free it that is one great thing to do to make one real difference……

  • Pingback: Define Success to Create Success, Starting Now | Tiny Buddha: Wisdom Quotes, Letting Go, Letting Happiness In

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002200938752 Laxmi Thebe Limboo

    Nice :)

  • http://www.dlysen.com/ dlysen

    It is easy to smile… just as I though but it is not when you are emotionally hurt.

  • Jay5255

    i really enjoyed this it was a very inspiring thing im only 17years old and theres so much in the world and i wanna make a good cause to others and show them the power of just believing thereself and see what they can truely do and most are stubborn and dont want to see it as i do which i can never force on someone just i wish people could see the brighter side of things because you cant let things bring you down itll only hold you back more and create that “monster” full of fear and selfdoubt and you truely wont chase your dreams if you never try… and it kills me when people just give up so easily on life when there so much to discover.. just wanna make a difference in the world:x

  • lisa

    I smile a lot

  • http://www.personal-success-factors.com/ steveborgman

    Simply show up. This is a powerful one. By staying present, focused, and aware, and by giving our best to every conversation, task, and even fun activity, we will make a strong difference in our worlds.

  • Sean Parker

    Everything we do in life is irrelevant, it is however, important that we do it.

  • DaveWavy

    You can wake up for once in your life

  • Benji

    Love what you are doing here. Just started something similar on FB http://www.facebook.com/SoulMusketeer
    Because every little bit helps.

  • JacquelineT17

    Never give up, always know that you can do anything you set your mind to no matter how big or small. pass this on to everyone around you and soon you will all be unstoppable and the best part about it will be that you are all unstoppable together.

  • Tess

    This is beautiful :) Wonderful and inspiring. Thank you :)

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    You’re most welcome!

  • Christopher

    I believe you’re makin’ a great difference. And I encourage you for more!

    And as for me, I’m doin’ my bit. I’m 21 years old, from Toronto, CA. Now reside in Ukraine, Europe. I thought of doin’ an English programme in Computer Science and sure, doin’ good for myself and for others around me. But the plan has changed, in point of fact I got to know how lonely life can be, how cruel and miserable it is for some, and how important it is to step in and help all those in need. My priority became helpin’ others. With reachin’ for others comes the greatest success. I’m truly saddened to see sufferance and unhappiness in this world and I just wanna make a difference. Days are passin’ by and I’m tryin’ the best I can to make some footprints in other people’s life.

    I’m very optimistic about life, I love livin’, happiness is all around me, I have a massive positive energy, I love helpin’ and sharin’ smiles. True that throughout my life I had so many things that pulled me down but I won the frays with the imagination of a free man. Our life is all about choices and I made my choice to be good and to follow my passion along with helpin’ those in need.

    Now, I study, work, and volunteer in Ukraine. I started a new organisation for voluntary work in the country. They don’t have a lot here and this concept is unusual thin’ in their community. In Canada we have 14 million volunteers. Here only hundreds of thousands no more. I just don’t wanna live in a world where we don’t look out for each other. We’ve gotta help others. Not just the ones that are close to us, but anybody who needs a helpin’ hand.. I cant change the way anybody else thinks, or what they choose to do, but I can do my bit.

    My time in Ukraine is somethin’ I adore cos’ I’m performin’ a lot of good acts and I’m makin’ the difference I wanna see in the world. I find I’m so excited, I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head. I hope I can make it and change some lives here in this country. I hope to see more volunteers and shake their hands. I hope the world to be as perfect as it is in my dreams. I hope..

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thanks so much, and same to you! I love what you wrote about choices and looking out for each other. I’m inspired. =)

  • Christopher

    The reason that I’m doin’ what I do is that I see people like you exist in the world. What most helps me to survive is knowin’ good people. They give me strength to continue the road. They raise my smile with the actions they do and the words I hear ‘em sayin’. And you, with all honesty, are one of my favourite(: You’re the inspiration(:

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    I’m truly honored. Thank you =)

  • Sarah

    Wonderful article, Lori! Thank you for that … it is like a wonderful Christmas gift! Merry Christmas to you and your family! Thank you for all you do for us and the world! With love ~ Sarah Woolley

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thank you Sarah and you’re most welcome. Merry Christmas :)

  • weedpuller

    “Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.” ~William James

  • Richard Boies

    Great words for me to hear. I am in a transitional period of my life and sometimes feel insecure with the changes that are going on in my life. These word inspire to continue on this path that I am on and to continue to have faith in doing the right things in life soley because they are the right things to do.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    I’m glad this inspired you Richard! I wish you much peace as you move forward with these changes in your life.

  • nirmanakaya

    Right motivation? Help others quietly, unnoticed, unacknowledged, then you can be sure it’s sincere and not feeding the ego. Check out the eight worldly (or mundane) concerns if you need guidelines for what you do, and why.

  • Paige

    I guess I must not be human. I have no desire to be known for what I’ve done, that is, unless it’s in my family. I want to be known by my children for being the best mom they’ve ever seen. By my husband for being the best wife he could dream of. I don’t want to be known. I just want to know that I’ve at least helped one life.

  • bongani sibeko

    “Simply show up!” I love this one! That’s our sole purpose in life, we are here simply to show ourselves up, to rise up and be seen, to speak up and be heard, to tell our stories and be listened and most importantly to show up and leave a mark.

    If we don’t show up, we are not living.

    Thanks Lori for compiling such a powerful list!

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    I’m glad you enjoyed this, Bongani! You’re most welcome, and thanks for taking the time to comment. =)

  • Incense and Happiness

    Such simple phrases for such grand concepts. But so effective.

  • Lydia Yang

    Wow I don’t know what to say!

  • Lexi Cera

    Great article! Tiny Buddha really inspires me. Thank you for the words.

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Thanks–and you’re most welcome!

  • Lola

    To be honest I would just love to make a difference on big scale. I wish I could just solve the worlds corruption and fix world hunger. Not to be remembered by many people or boost my ego, but because of justice and love. I honestly do think that some corrupt stuff is obviously not justice. Think about FIFA who made 1000 people go homeless in brazil this year or the so called good causes like unicef and the big boss of it who gets paid 50% of the incoming or something. I just wish I could stop it. It is inhuman and unfair! Also I’d just love to end world hunger and the problems op capitalism.. the 10 most rich peeps have more money than the poorest 3 billion. That is just insane! If I had that much money I’d share it with the hungry and poor, out of love and because I feel so damn bad for them. I am lucky I live in the west, but I cannot even imagine being hungry for days… I wish it just would not excist in this world and that I could fix all these problems. Not because I want to be famous but because of my personal beliefs… However I am just a small human being and changing the world completely on your own is sadly not possible :(