Section 3: LIVING WITH GOODNESS
RECOGNIZE HOW IMPORTANT YOU CAN BE
Making a Difference in the Lives of Others
Sometimes we feel that we’re not that important in the overall scheme of things. We reach this conclusion primarily because we think of “importance” in the wrong way. It’s not a matter of being a local hero or of receiving some special award. It’s a matter of how you interact with other people and how you treat others on a day-to-day basis.
My heroes are just everyday people
who work hard, are honest, and have integrity.
Everyday People Are So Important
We don’t often stop to consider how important we really are and the potential we have to be even more so. “I’m just an everyday person,” you say. “There’s nothing that significant about me.” Well, you’re wrong about that. You may not be the world champion of goodness, but you can be of great importance to many people—including your family, friends, and strangers too—with the goodness you have to share with others.
We come in contact with many people during a typical day—ordinary, everyday people as we have defined them here. Over the years, I’ve come to appreciate just how important these everyday people really are. Wonderful people who greet us at
church, nice neighbors who help us with home projects and in other special ways, friends at school who offer an encouraging word, associates at work who help us get things done, nice ladies who wait on us at the cleaners, the man who sacks my groceries at the store, the nice . . . well, you get the point. It’s everyday people like these who make such a difference in our lives—who greet us, who help us, and who make us feel special in so many ways.
Our Role as an Everyday Person
As we go about our roles as one of these everyday people, here are three things to keep in mind:
Life’s about how we make others feel
There are no secrets here. Our importance to others depends almost solely on how we make them feel. Such feelings can develop from chance encounters, from time spent with family members, from special occasions with friends or business associates, and even from our interactions with store personnel as we run our errands each day. Every contact we have with someone, however insignificant it may seem, provides us with an opportunity to make someone feel special, to show we care about them, and appreciate what they do for us. Barbara De Angelis, author of How to Make
Love All the Time, explained it this way:
Love and kindness are never wasted.
They always make a difference.
They bless the one who receives them, and they bless you, the giver.
Our lives are transformed from ordinary to extraordinary by what we do for others
You can be so important to others if you will reach out and touch their lives in your own special way. It may be as simple as offering a nice smile or a word of encouragement to someone. It may be offering free tutoring to a struggling student or buying a lunch for someone in need. It may be volunteering to help with a special project in your community. It could be one of hundreds of ways you could make a difference in someone’s life. Yes, it takes extra effort to do these things, but the impact of those efforts can make a major difference in the lives of others and in your life as well.
Somewhere along the way, we must learn
that there is nothing greater than to do something for others.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
You can be as important as you choose to be
It may sound silly right now, but it’s true . . . you can become a very important person to many of the people around you. It depends on your choices and how you make them feel when you interact with them. When someone feels that you truly care about them, your importance in their life increases significantly. And for you and me, creating such feelings is not a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It’s an opportunity we have many times each and every day.
The Key: Be Yourself
We frequently compare ourselves to others…she’s prettier, he’s a better athlete, they are smarter, and on it goes. When we look at people who do some things incredibly well, we tend to see ourselves as average and don’t consider how important we really are or can be. But the truth is…being pretty, being a good athlete, or even being smart has little to do with how important we are to others. Instead, as pointed out above, it’s almost all about how we make others feel…if we are friendly, polite, and helpful to someone, they could care less how pretty or smart we are.
The prerequisite to being important to others is first and foremost to be yourself. Never pretend you are something or someone you are not. Then it’s a matter of making the personal choices that allow you to be or become a friendly and helpful person to those you encounter each day.
You and I may not be movie stars, professional athletes, or have more money than we can spend, but we can be one of those very important everyday people. We can be one of those people who truly cares about others and is quick to help through words and deeds when they are needed. We can make others feel special. And, what would life be like without people like that?
There are only three things people need in life:
food, water, and compliments.
How do you think you make your friends and others feel as you encounter them each day?
Do you show that you really care about them?
Who are the everyday people in your life who have made your life more enjoyable?
Describe how these individuals make you feel when you are with them?
Are there any adjustments you need to make in the way you treat others each day?
If so, what are they?