“BE the change you want to see in the world.” These ten, tastefully commercialized words are casually etched onto graphic t-shirts and printed on colorful bumper stickers, adorning coffee cups in small hipster joints across town and embellishing tumblr pages and inspirational Instagram feeds in watercolor calligraphy. While the notion of social transformation and community service may resonate with you, the words often wishfully wane with the responsibilities of each passing day.
The gift of giving and selfless measure has been explored for centuries and across people of all spectrums and sensibilities, from the likes of profound politicians and prolific poets to audacious athletes and ambitious artists. Through thinking globally and acting locally, you can truly grasp the transformative power of helping others.
Renowned playwright Oscar Wilde once said that a cynic ‘was a man who knew the price of everything and the value of nothing,’ hitting the heart of the problems of society. Value is determined by the measure of one’s actions and the impact we leave on the world that has cultivated our minds, our hearts, and our sole being.
While we may make a living according to the money we make and the material objects we seek, it is through giving that we truly make a life of value and not just price. Although you may not have the time or resources to take a wild and potentially costly trip to a third world country to do humanitarian work, there are still many outlets for making a positive impact on others that are right in your backyard.
Amazon Smile: You shop, and Amazon gives. An easy and efficient means of supporting your favorite charitable organization every time you shop, Amazon Smile provides you with the same low prices, wide ranging selections, and Amazon experience. The only difference is that Amazon Smile donates .5% of the price of your eligible purchases to your pick of nearly one million organizations. To make things even easier, you are able to use your same Amazon account. Simply visit smile.amazon.com to begin shopping.
Spending Time With The People You Love. From visiting your grandparents to catching up with old friends, it is important to share your attention with the people that add value to your life. This is challenging at times when life seems to overwhelm you with responsibility; however, managing a few hours of your time will allow you to make someone’s entire day.
Donate your clothing and books. This is a great way to clean out your closet and get rid of your old things, while helping others. While letting go of things is no easy task, there comes a point where your clothes pile high and you have stacks of books you haven’t looked at since your first semester of college. Many libraries accept book donations, as well as local thrift stores. Also, be sure to check out this wonderful list of places to donate worn clothes and beauty products.
Run a marathon or attend a charity event. Many non-profit organizations plan exciting events and marathons that allow you to be active, while giving back to a greater cause. This allows you to do something great for yourself, while simultaneously doing good for others. Charity marathons allow you to merge your interests with making a difference in your community.
Play fun games online to end world hunger. There are many sites on the web that offer means of expanding your knowledge, while donating to those less fortunate. Satorio.org is a mindful meditation site that donates 10 grains of rice through Oxfam to a starving person on your behalf, for every minute you meditate. You can track your progress and improve your lifestyle, as you help end world hunger in the process.
Freerice.com is an alternate site that works similarly to provide education to everyone for free, as well as end world hunger. The non-profit website is owned by and supports the United Nations World Food Programme. The site provides vocabulary questions, and for every question you guess correctly, it donates 10 grains of rice to the UNWFP.
Pay it forward. While these random acts of kindness may seem small, they are anything but trivial. Adding a little sunshine to a stranger’s day promotes positivity and the spreading of kindness from one person to the next. These are just a few simple ways you can pay it forward and spread the love within minutes:
- Leave a positive yelp review after receiving outstanding service.
- Buy coffee for the person behind you in line at the coffee shop.
- Surprise someone in your life with flowers, whether a sibling, parent, or significant other.
- Send a positive message of appreciation to five different people right now.
- Learn the names of everyone you may routinely encounter, including your office security guard, the person at the front desk, and the local cashier at the market. Greet them by name and share conversation. Everyone likes to feel visible.