15 Ways to Change the World

Heal the World

“When I do good, I feel good; when I do bad, I feel bad and that is my religion.” ~Abraham Lincoln

It’s no secret that we live in a world that’s obsessed with wealth, fame, and celebrities. Some call it the “age of narcissism.” I’m not sure I want to label or judge our current circumstances. Instead, like Gandhi suggests, I’ll put my focus on being the change I wish to see in the world.

I’m planning to mix things up a bit for 2010, and I invite you to do the same. Instead of creating New Year’s Resolutions that are all about me, I’m going to make mine all about others. Instead of trying to increase my own success, I’m going to set others up to succeed.

My personal idea was inspired by CNN’s “Hero of the Year 2009” given to one ordinary person making an extraordinary difference. CNN’s panel chose Efren Penaflorida as the winner for 2009. He received $100,000 for his organization. You can read about all 10 nominees here.

Being an everyday hero does far more for you than you may imagine. Some benefits of volunteering include:

  • Volunteers develop a “helper’s high” due to a link between kindness and a gene that releases dopamine, a feel-good neurotransmitter in the brain.
  • Volunteers report feeling energetic, warm, calmer, and greater self-worth.
  • Volunteers enjoy being helpful because it’s as pleasurable as eating a chocolate chip cookie.
  • Volunteers are more loving and less angry, resentful, or fearful.
  • Volunteers increase their own level of happiness due to the law of cause and effect: What goes around comes around.

My husband and I currently support The Smile Train, Wounded Warriors, Girl Scouts, and Boy Scouts. This year I want to do more. I’m still in the process of deciding what more will look like; I’ll have my decision and plan ready to put into action on January 1st, 2010.

The following are other ideas to inspire you to begin.

1. Provide a box at your school, work, or place of worship and ask others to make food contributions. Distribute it monthly.

2. Daily save the change from your purse or pockets and donate it to a favorite charity at the end of each month.

3. Begin a warm coat drive.

4. Join efforts to preserve and protect the environment.

5. Donate cat and dog food to an animal shelter. (Call and ask what is needed.)

6. Collect used books and make a donation.

7. Donate flowers to nursing homes.

8. Donate professional services including: teaching classes, giving a workshop, consulting and coaching services, or professional speaking.

9. Teach someone to read.

10. Begin a giving circle with your friends. Every month one person hosts a “girl’s night in” by having a potluck. Each person donates $20 to a chosen cause.

11. Offer to clean or paint someone’s home.

12. Donate your time to a preschool. Collect educational toys.

13. Cook dinner for shut-ins.

14. Collect prom dresses for underprivileged youth.

15. Offer to do manicures and pedicures in a children’s hospital.

A final option:

Make the words, “How can I help” part of your everyday vocabulary. Because actions speak louder than words. Because we want to make the world a better place for everyone.

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About Tess Marshall

Tess Marshall M.A. is a risk taker, author, and courage coach with a master’s degree in counseling psychology.

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