A small Difference

By CreativeWings, 29 March, 2010

“We must not, in trying to think about how we can make a big difference, ignore the small daily differences we can make which, over time, add up to big differences that we often cannot foresee.” – Marian Wright Edelman

I had the pleasure of spending a week with my brother and his family recently. One of the best parts of the trip was observing my brothers interaction with all of the various people he would come in contact with each day. Wherever we went, he always took the time to talk to the people around us. Usually it was just a simple “Hello” followed by some comment about whatever it was that was happening at the time, but always, it was genuine.

The fact that he took the couple of extra seconds each time to talk to the other person, to listen, and hear to how they responded, made a difference not only in his day, but in the day of the other person as well.

I like to think of myself as a friendly person, and I frequently do the same thing, but I think that having the opportunity to spend time with him and witness the change of energy in each of the situations, reminded me about how easy it is to make a difference each day.

If it’s been a while since you struck up a conversation with a stranger, it might feel a little uncomfortable at first, but it’s all right if you start off slowly. The next time you go to purchase your coffee, or buy a movie ticket, just start off with a simple “Hi”, and a smile. Just notice how this small step makes you feel. How did the other person respond? Before you know it, you’ll be more comfortable, and will want to move on to short conversations.

My brother was just being himself, and interacting with people the way he always does. What he didn’t know, and what I didn’t expect, is that by doing this, he was making a difference in my life.

You just never know.

The Challenge

By CreativeWings, 20 January, 2010

So, I finally set a date for the day of being thankful for everything that happened to me, January 18th. I decided to choose a Monday, because I hoped it would set a precedent for the rest of the week.

The alarm went off as it does each day, and I got up and said “thank you” as my feet hit the floor, I remembered that this was my grateful day, and said thank you for the opportunity to spend the day in gratitude. So, it had begun. Getting ready to leave the house proved to be uneventful, and because of the recent tragedy in Haiti, saying thank you for all of the things that make my home warm and comfortable, and safe was very easy. A subway train was at the station when I got there and my ride was a very pleasant one. For the most part, my day passed with little difficulty, although I did find if I wasn’t vigilant in reminding myself about the task at hand, I would forget.

Late in the day I received a phone call from my Mother to let me know that a member of my family had been to the Doctor that day and that there was enough concern about something that they had ordered further tests that needed to be done immediately. As I hung up the phone, I said out loud “so, how can I find something to be grateful about in this?” Well, first of all I was thankful that my Mother had called to let me know what was going on. (I live far from all of my family and sometimes they forget to keep me in the loop.) Secondly, I was very grateful this relative had gone to the Doctor, and that the Doctor had done a thorough enough exam that this issue had been discovered. All right, that wasn’t so hard, and it did in fact make me feel much better about the situation.

Later that evening I had a call with my own coach and during the call I mentioned that I had been feeling a little depressed, and that this had been my day of gratitude and that it had helped my overall mood. My coach then told me that he had just read that January 18th was considered to be the most depressing day of the year and directed me to the article he had read. With this, I had something else to be grateful for, the fact that I had unknowingly picked the most depressing day of the year to be the most grateful. I guess there really are no accidents.

So, what did I learn from my day?

Well, first and foremost, I was reminded about the power that I have from moment to moment to choose how I react to everything that happens. In my busy life with all of its distractions, I do sometimes forget about this, and it was nice to have a wake up call. Secondly, I found that I enjoyed the day. It was fun to see what would come up and to know that no matter what; I was bound to react positively.

Has it stuck? Am I in a constant state of gratitude? The answer is no. I still need to remind myself often to react from a place of gratitude and thankfulness. However, because of my challenge, I do remind myself more than I ever have in my life, and for that, I am grateful.