What You Do Matters

“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.

They do.

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 contagiousand 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

About Madison Sonnier

Madison is a writer of feelings and lover of animals, music, nature and creativity. You can follow her blog at and buy her first eBook through Amazon. She loves making new friends, so be sure to say hi if you like what you see!

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  • Taso

    Hey! Thanx 2 u Madison   . .  really . just da kind of thin’ i wantd 2 know at dis point of ma life-situation . it’s really amazin’ 2 know how small acts of kindness, thoughtfulness, attention, gratitude, can make such a big deal in our every-day lives, ’bout how sumthin’ sensitive lik vulnerability can be a source of connectivity wit our fellow mates. n it’s equally saddenin’ 2 know how we tend 2 overlook ’em. really inspirin’ n enlightenin’ . keep it up . take care .

  • Lv2terp

    GREAT blog!!!!!!!! Thank you for sharing, and your wisdom! Great tips and examples to easily apply to life 🙂

  • An attitude of gratitude goes a long way in life. I love the story about the boy who was going to take his own life and a simple act of kindness from another prevented him from taking his own life.

  • Wow! This is a keeper. One of the things I love the most about John Lennon was how brave he was to show his vulnerability in his lyrics. That thought came to me when I was reading this blog. Keep writing – this is a wonderful resource for people.

  • Diana

    I loved your blog today.

    Thank you,

  • Marcus Elmore

    This was very thoughtful and inspiring: thank you.

  • Wiscogreenchick

    Wonerfully insiteful giving all of us light to life:)

  • Stevie

    Love this. 
    But its hard to live with these all the time.

  • David of SixSimpleRules

    Wonderful post. Thank you for sharing. I enjoyed it all. “Vulnerability is contagious” is something I, too, have learned, though had never articulated. Well done!

    David J. Singer

  • Joutai

    This made me think someone was talking to me, it describes me pretty well. I’m still extremely timid when it comes to opening up and can be extremely judgmental of myself. I love it when someone gives me there full attention when I give them mine, it helps me feel like I’m not just someone to kill time with but that I’m someone of value to them. The only thing I haven’t done is share too much about me online. I’ve kinda started to a while ago though and yes, it felt great even with the anxiety.

  • Alan Shelton

    I love the concept of mattering. When I sat in India I heard a guru say that if you felt you didn’t matter, then you needed to understand you do and join the rest of the crowd. If you felt that you only mattered, then you needed to understand you don’t and join the rest of the crowd. He went on to say that in understanding you and everything else are ‘one’ that you would be manifested purposefully in that surrendered state. Thanks for an American version  of eastern wisdom.

    Alan Shelton  

  • anthony

    i really enjoyed this. It makes me feel there are people out there who share my beliefs and that also I am living truthfully

  • Vamsi Sabbisetty

    Thanks a ton for enlightening and inspiring the world with honey words  and sentences 😀 . Its nothing more entertaining and soothing than going through your articles on life !!!  Keep posting 🙂 .

  • Eva

    Thank you for this blog..I have been a do gooder for pretty much all my life. Now entering my 57th year of healthy life I feel myself in a place of unbelievable happiness . I was told that this is the balance of having done so much,well what an ego booster that is..However, having read your blog I tripped on the word vulnerable. Having been the do gooder I have been the one in charge so to speak. When I listen, hold, comfort,hand a tissue..I am in control..oh the feeling of the power. Vulnerable..have I ever allowed myself to be in that seat? hmm no!
    Now that I am in the happiest season of my life I feel as though I can  be vulnerable. I am finally safe, both in relationship with self and other. I can now finally say, I am unavailable for that call..I am able to look after myself. At this age and time of my life I feel as though   others can now enter their kindness into me and this does not make me weak.. allowing others to care for me having them be strong allowing self to be this is unfamiliar territory which I am excited to enter into..Thanks for the blog..never would have occurred to me had I not read this..

  • Thank you. 🙂 I love vulnerable lyrics as well. I think music connects people in that way. 

  • This is beautiful. Thank you so much for reading. 🙂 

  • Aww thank you for reading them!! 🙂 

  • Thank you Anthony! 

  • Wow, I love that! Very wise and true. 

  • Yeah, I can still be very judgmental of myself too. I’m always wondering what another person is thinking while they’re talking to me. It’s a very damaging habit.

    It’s great that you’re sharing your vulnerability online! It has been very rewarding for me. I feel more connected to all the people out there who feel the same way. 

    ~ Madison 

  • Thank you for reading! I’m glad you liked it. 

  • Thanks for reading!

  • I love that story too. Very powerful. 

  • Thank you!! 🙂 

  • Thank you so much. I agree that these things shouldn’t be overlooked. 

  • Julie

    This really hit the spot today.  Thank you for your inspiring words.

  • Thanks for sharing. there is so much in your post that resonates with me, feeling of being the white crayon especially. Thanks also for speaking about vulnerability, that struck a chord as I have on occaision shown my vulnerable side and each time it seems to come with wonderful rewards of support and empathy from people who I didnt realize would understand. Seems we are all human beings and sharing the stories that make our lives helps us to connect with each other.
    Thank you again for reminding me!

  • Eva

    This blog page is such a wonderfully enlightening place to go for just a little of the early morning pick me up.Reminding each other that we’re not alone on this journey of choices and mindful living.To encourage each other to live a gentle more kinder life with ourselves and then taking that to the next level of sharing with others.

    Each morning when we rise and with the many luxuries of warm showers, beds, food and of course our java..we head out to embrace our world. Making a mindful decision of how to interact with the traffic, bus and co-workers.We head home exhausted, impatient, and hungry…are we not the most fortunate?
    May today be a day for your body to embrace it’s self enjoying who you are as a human with our many short comings,,,oh and don’t forget to laugh…


  • 🙂 Love it. 

  • Thank you for reading! I love that you can relate. <3 

  • Carol

    Great post – honest and sincere.  I love your analogy of the white crayon “just kind of sits there and tends to get overlooked.”

    At mid-life I’ve actually blogged about the Invisible White Female syndrome that I encounter  so often.  How to matter when you help out others all the time and you still get forgotten and ignored?  The only thing I can think of to resolve this (I am not going to become the “bitchy” female that insists on instant service) – is to let go of any expectations of others and simply focus on mattering to yourself.  That is all that really matters in the long run anyways.

  • A. Marina Fournier

    In some of the older, elaborate knotwork art & illuminated letters, white sets things apart so that they can be noticed. Graphic artist David Goines (you see his work in most of the posters for Chez Panisse) uses a stripe of white to outline his work, and makes it distinctive.

    You need, in 2D art and some printed matter, to make good use of the white space–it is very much needed to make the whole greater than the sum of its parts.

    That being said, I have found each of your examples to be more true than I could have imagined while I was performing them.

  • Flexprogress

    As soon as I started reading this post tears welled up in my eyes, I can certainly relate to every thing in this post especially the way you described yourself as the white crayon. I am also searching for my purpose, and have been going through some difficult times recently, but I know this means that things for me are changing and I am growing and learning so the future will definitely be brighter. Thanks for connecting with us through your great article.

  • Aw, so glad you can relate. 

    Things will change eventually. When we get stuck in an uncomfortable phase, it’s easy to feel like we’ll never get out of it. But you’re right—we are always learning and growing, and bad feelings don’t last forever. 

    Thanks for reading. <3 

  • 🙂 🙂 🙂 

  • YES. That is also a very important concept to grasp—mattering to yourself.

    That is very hard for me to do sometimes, but I do have days where I feel genuinely good about myself, with or without someone else’s validation. And that is one of the best feelings in the world. 🙂 

  • Thank you for reading! 

  • Loulou_yoga1

    There are a lot of white crayons left lying in the bottom of the box. The wonderful thing about them though, is that they truly come into their own, when you use them on a dark background. When things are really dark and black, the white crayon shines – it is the bringer of light and it also helps to calm and temper the harsher colours. Just because it sometimes gets overlooked, doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a purpose, otherwise they wouldn’t make them. Thank you for sharing your story, there was so much in there that rang true for me as well. Namaste

  • I love this so much. Thank you. <3 

  • Habibanazeera

    Thanks….. I needed this article at this very moment. Thank you

  • Kirmamcgrath

    we all cant be red! it would be no fun.
    thanks Loulou. Kir

  • j_aston

    I sat here goose bumpy from read your article as I felt like the white crayon. Thank you for sharing your story it certainly hit home with me. Namaste.

  • Charles

    Hello there. I want to be kind…but it really seems like there are NO opportunities to, especially in school where I spend most of my time. No one falls down, no one drops stuff, no one. I can’t seem to FIND anyone to help. And I really want to.

  • Been a long-time reader of Tiny Buddha but somehow came across this blog post only today after doing a Google Search on a similar topic.

    Thank you this post…