I don’t know what to call this thing that we have inside us that wants to feel like we’ve mattered, that we’ve affected something for the better, but really, it’s a need to know the world is a better place because we were in it. It sounds a bit narcissistic if you look at it shallowly, but what it is when coming at it from the heart; it’s knowing you’ve done something for someone. Some of us think “making a difference” has to be some multi-life-saving event that we will be memorialized by. And yet, most of us also still feel content knowing we “helped” whether by giving someone twenty bucks, offering a much needed hug, or by being understanding and kind to someone really needing it. This need to feel “a difference” follows us throughout life and I think it might be a thirst that’s unquenchable for some.
One of my jobs is serving coffee, and although some could argue that serving coffee is making a difference, (*big smile*) I come in contact with many people who make a difference to me. Whether it’s getting to experience their kind heart, getting to know my sweet co-workers better as they share personal stories, or in serving my small town police officer that grew up in this town and genuinely loves the people he serves… these small things make a difference to me because these people are sharing their lives and hearts. I have to then hope that I might be doing this for someone else, either through coffee or in my general life, also sharing my heart.
Really, we can’t possibly know what difference we’ve made at the end of a well-lived life. We can’t quantify each encounter to end up with a great sum. The sad thing is that the way we spend so much of our lives beating ourselves up for not being “enough”, it’s likely we don’t even see the difference we make on a continual basis.
I know that I don’t tell people who give me a much needed laugh that their light-heartedness, or my medicinal laughter because of them -helped me. But the truth is, things like those are vital. I survive on those small moments as they happen daily, and I’m surely not alone in that feeling.
Life is fragile, not just our physical life; but our hearts too. Cruel words, a mean attitude, and general negativity affect us. They affect our day, our sleep, our happiness, and when it comes to feeling “ok” or “not ok” it’s the small things that make a difference and keep us going. Two of my favorite small things are love and kindness. THAT is how we make a difference.