“To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived, this is to have succeeded.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
I used to refer to myself as a white crayon in the coloring box of life.
Have you ever wondered what purpose a white crayon serves? There are all of these other beautiful colors to be put to good use, but the white crayon just kind of sits there and tends to get overlooked.
That’s exactly how I felt. I felt like I was just merely existing and not serving any kind of purpose. And at the time, I sort of wasn’t.
I wasn’t doing anything except coming up with demeaning nicknames for myself, and trying to swallow the fact that I might never be of any importance in the world. I honestly felt like I didn’t matter at all.
I thought that in order to feel like I really mattered or that I was doing something worthy enough, I had to be doing something big—something that everyone noticed and applauded me for.
We live in a society where the little things we do often get overlooked and it has a way of making us believe that those things don’t matter.
Compassion, understanding, small acts of kindness, or a willingness to simply reach out to others in any way can all make a huge difference.
I want to share a few real life examples of little things making a big difference, including my own story in which I realized this fact.
Example #1: Kindness
I read a story one time about a boy who was planning to take his life after school one day. As he was walking home, one of the kids from school joined him and walked him the rest of the way. That boy ultimately decided not to end his life all because of that simple act of kindness, and he and that kid from school ended up becoming best friends.
Be kind to every person you meet because you never know what someone else could be going through. You could be saving someone’s life and not even know it.
Example #2: Thoughtfulness
My mom recently told me that she regularly writes little notes to one of her clients—simple notes that let her know she is being thought about. That client contacted my mom one day to tell her that those little notes were like rays of sunshine and that she was keeping all of them in a special box.
Simply taking the time to let someone know that you’re thinking about them can bring light to their life whenever they may have trouble finding it.
Example #3: Attention
Some of the best interactions I’ve had have come from people who listened more than they talked.
Communication isn’t exactly my strong point and I have a habit of pre-judging myself before talking to someone else, whether I’m talking to them for the first time, or I want to have a serious discussion with them.
It can be really difficult to put myself out there and speak my mind, but when people really listen to what I have to say without interrupting, judging, or getting distracted, I’m prone to open up even more.
During a time in my life where I felt like nothing I was doing was good enough, I always got really anxious when meeting new people and getting the inevitable “small talk” questions. I felt very uncomfortable talking about myself and my position in life. I still do at times, to be honest.
But I met this girl at a restaurant one day, and even though I only knew her for a brief period of time, I consider her to be one of the nicest people I’ve ever met because she listened to me when I felt like no one wanted to. She was very kind, attentive, non-judgmental, and open.
You can make a difference in someone’s life or make someone’s day by listening to them with an open mind and an open heart.
Example #4: Gratitude
Expressions of gratitude can also make a big difference. When someone means something to me or I am grateful for a role they played in my life, I have to let them know.
If someone means a lot to you or has made some sort of positive difference in your life, it is so important to tell them. Tell them today.
When someone knows that they’re important to you or that they’ve made a difference in your life, it changes them. It may even change the way they see themselves if they didn’t feel worthy enough before you expressed your gratitude toward them.
I’ve been on both ends of this stick and I know the powerful effect that simple gratitude has on people—both the giver and the receiver of that gratitude.
Example #5: Vulnerability
When I first started blogging and submitting personal stories to online publications, I had mixed feelings. I looked forward to challenging myself and exploring my passion, but I was also afraid of the responses I would get to both my lack of professional writing experience and my willingness to be so open and honest about my personal struggles.
I had no idea how I was going to be received and it made me feel a bit anxious and unsure of myself.
But I soon realized that I never had anything to be afraid of because I learned that vulnerability is contagious—and it bring peace and healing to people who may feel that they are alone in their struggles.
So many people have told me their stories. So many people have told me that I’ve helped or inspired them. So many people see a light in me that frequently gets dimmed by my own negative self-talk.
I’ve learned that vulnerability is a huge connecting factor. Some of the most intimate relationships I have, whether they be online or offline, started with being open and honest—being comfortable enough to show who I really am.
So today, remember that kindness, thoughtfulness, attention, gratitude, and vulnerability can all cause a life to breathe easier, and that all of these things are worth celebrating.
Photo by mrsdkrebs