Make a Difference Helping Others Each Day

What do we live for, if it is not to make life less difficult for each other? George

Reading the press over our recent Holiday Season, one could not help notice efforts to inject some good news in the midst of all of the regular bad that we are accustomed to. Stories of heroes helping others, random acts of kindness, and inspiring good deeds bring a smile and build a warm feeling as we shared a moment with these strangers who unselfishly chose to help others. Amazing feats accomplished by everyday people just like you and me. And sometimes those amazing feats were really nothing so amazing, more just paying attention and making an effort to positively impact a fellow human being – not super human but definitely human.

As the Holidays are also a time for reflection, I found myself reviewing past years in search of my heroic moments, those times when I had reached out to help someone in need or just been there to listen. It took some digging but I was able to discover a few good deeds rendered, none necessarily news worthy but acts of kindness just the same.

Then I thought what if I was to make a more conscious effort to make a difference by regularly helping others? If I proactively reached out might I become an unsung hero to someone not expecting such charity at that moment?

Find your own Calcutta – Sister Theresa in response to people offering to join in her “wonderful work in Calcutta”

And then on what was apparently a pretty inspirational day for me I had one additional insight. There are many needy people in my immediate area that I can reach out to and I am doing research to do just that. But there is another group. Although not technically needy, they  could surely benefit from a random act of kindness in what is often an unkind world. So I decided to begin a regular practice of reaching out to one person each day just to say hi, to let them know that they are special to me, not just on special occasions but always. Although my day tends to rocket by, I made this my personal goal. And my target list – my family and friends.

Empathy – the willingness of an observer to become part of another’s experience, to share the feeling or that experience – The Empathic Civilization

In our busy day, we find time to do everything from cleaning bathrooms to cooking dinner to doing our nails. How is it that we go for months without a brief note to someone so much more important to us than our bathroom cleanliness? Sure something newsworthy does not happen every day but that is no excuse. It is not the content of the message so much as the effort made to communicate that is appreciated. Reach out and touch someone. You know that feeling you get when you place an impromptu call to a best friend who has gone ignored for some months, they pick up the phone, and as soon as they recognize your voice, you can “feel” the smile in their voice? When you hang up after talking for however long, you ask yourself why did you wait so long to make the call and you promise yourself you will call more frequently. But do you keep your promise?

Each of us can make a difference in someone’s life just by paying a little attention and taking the initiative to reach out. For whatever reason, people may be afraid to ask for help so what a pleasant surprise when we unexpectedly brighten their day with a little act of kindness.

Having a hard time thinking of some specific good deeds to bestow upon your family and friends?

  • Send an email to someone just to catch up. The message does not have to be anything earth shaking but just a note so they know they are on your mind. Your random act, so simple to do, may catch them at a time when they can truly use a friend
  • Send flowers – 1800-FLOWERS or local florists offer all kinds of deals and themes for all occasions and at very reasonable prices (it is very competitive out there). Flowers for no reason at all can have a big impact.
  • Write a card – they do still exist and getting something in the mail other than spam will be a welcome change.
  • Pick up the phone – “why are you calling – it’s not my birthday?”
  • Post something nice on their Facebook.
  • Tweet a clever message – everyone has time to read 140 characters!

The more I think it over, the more I feel that there is nothing more truly artistic than to love people ~ Vincent Van Gogh

If we wait for the perfect moment to reach out, we will miss the most important moment which is now. Distractions will invariably get in the way and our best intentions will fade into the background.

Do it now while you think of it.

I have started my “daily touches” and guess what – not a single negative experience, only family and friends happy to hear from me. Imagine my surprise!  😉

And if you happen to be on my list of family and friends – you know who you are – don’t be surprised if in the very near future, you experience an unexpected, for-no-reason-at-all, out-of-the-blue contact from yours truly. It may not be concerning the most important news in the world but since you are the most important people in the world to me, you will just have to get used to it!

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About LoveBeingRetired

Dave Bernard is a California born and raised author and blogger with an extensive 30 year career in Silicon Valley. He has written more than 300 blogs for US News & World On Retirement and his personal blog Retirement – Only the Beginning. He has authored three books: "Are you just existing and calling it a life?"; "I want to retire! Essential Considerations for the Retiree to Be"; and " Navigating the Retirement Jungle". Dave was also a contributing writer for the books 65 Things to do when you Retire (“Positive Aging – Old is the New Young”) as well as 65 Things to do when you Retire – TRAVEL (“Travel to Discover your Family Heritage”). He lives in sunny California with his wife, his Boston Terrier "Frank" and a passion for the San Jose Sharks.

2 thoughts on “Make a Difference Helping Others Each Day

  1. Great post. I find that I just can’t sit around and wait for a friend to call. I gotta call them and take the initiative; they’re probably just sitting around too, just waiting for someone to call.
    Prior to retiring 5 years ago, a guy at the Gym advised me to keep my old business cards. “Instead of just tossing them”, he said, ” cross out your old phone number, write in your home phone, and hand them out to friends and new acquaintances.” Works for me, and being able to help another geezer out with a project or some job has rewards you’d never expect.

  2. Perfect post, Dave, for this time of year. During the holiday season many of us become very focused on gifts and money and family while forgetting the rest of the world. It is time to turn our focus outward.

    I found it very gratifying to compliment or interact with at least one person per day who is normally ignored. The clerk behind the fast food counter, the check-out person at the grocery, or the woman at the dry cleaners are often “invisible” to most of us. We conduct our business with them as quickly as possible.

    I started making an effort to smile, say something pleasant or make a small joke with them. The result: a smile back, and a shift in their body language. Suddenly that person feels appreciated, or at least noticed.

    It takes so little effort but has a big payback.

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