How We Make a Difference


When we think about those who make a difference in the world we tend to think about the renowned and famous of the world.  The thing we should always keep in mind is that they are one person just like we are, and the real difference in the world is made by hundreds of millions of people who are equipped with the means to help others in some way.  Mother Teresa of Calcutta was known for having the attitude of helping one person at a time.  Even if that help was just comfort in the final moments of one person’s life.  Countless others looked to her as an example and helped countless other people as a result of that inspiration.  She had this impact by focusing on one person at a time, and did not seek out attention to herself.     

Mother Teresa understood the point I am trying to make today.  We should not endeavor to necessarily be the difference makers for the world.  Instead we should endeavor to help people one at a time.  We are all connected at a much closer level than we know.  “Six Degrees of Separation” shows that there are six degrees of separation between you and everyone else in the world.  Helping just one person could greatly impact the lives of countless others.  We are more effective in helping others if we keep our focus on helping one person at a time to the best of our ability.

We likely won’t know all of those we had a hand in helping, but we will know we did the best we could for each person we encountered. If we do that it will bear fruit in our lives.  One of the most desirable results of this idea is that you have less to stress about, but your impact is much greater in the long run.  This is an idea that is counterintuitive to many and they doubt that focusing on one person at a time is the most effective way.  Even those who lead the largest most successful companies in the world, would have never grown to that size were it not for a handful of individuals.  Some even contribute their success to a single idea by one influential person in their lives.  We indeed make a difference one person at a time. 

Accepting Reality


What does it mean to accept reality, and how can learning to do this make a positive impact in your life? Accepting reality doesn’t mean you don’t act on anything. What you do about what happens is a completely different conversation.  The mistake that we usually make in accepting reality, is the definition of reality.  Reality is not our thoughts and responses about what happens.  It is the physical event that occurred. How you feel about it is a separate conversation.  Separating the physical event from what you think about it is the key to the power of accepting reality. 

Sometimes when a negative experience happens we just react to it. We act on it without thought and it ends up creating negative circumstances in our lives.  We are still left with the feelings of the event.  How can we short circuit reality from creating carnage in our lives?  

When a negative event happens, it isn’t a one step process to accept it.  There are a series of events that occur.  This is how I see accepting the reality of one of those events. 

  1. Something negative happens.
  2. Acknowledge that the physical event happened, but don’t add your own thoughts to it.
  3. Really notice and get curious about the feelings that come up, instead of reacting. 
  4. Accept the way you feel about it. 
  5. Decide how you are going to move forward. 

Acknowledge Reality 

The way you see an event would be perceived at least slightly differently by almost every one of the other 8 billion people on planet earth.  You may have friends who nothing seems to bother, and others who seem to be bothered by every little thing.  The same event causes no disturbance for the first group, but for the second group it is like the end of the world.  My point here is that reality is not influenced by how we see it. 

Curiosity

This is the key to stopping negative events from having long term negative consequences on you.  When you notice you are feeling a negative emotion, really focus on how it feels in the moment instead of reacting to it or adding your own thoughts.  This might sound weird, but try to sense where you feel the emotion in your body.  Get curious about it, like it has something to tell you because it does.  Once you acknowledge something in this way it greatly reduces and sometimes eliminates the feeling.  This is also helpful with minor physical pain.

Acceptance

When we experience negative emotions our natural reaction is to push them down and away from us.  The human mind doesn’t work like that.  When you push something down the only thing you can be sure of is that it will resurface at some point.  Think about how trauma impacts a person.  The most impacted people are those who have pushed down their emotions.  Instead of pushing down your emotions, acknowledge them, take a deep breath, and accept them.  You are not your emotions, you are the one who feels them.  That says something about your biology and life experiences, but it says nothing about who you truly are.  You are not your thoughts, your past, or how you feel.

Decision

Now it is time to decide if there is anything you should do about what happened.  Some believe that accepting reality is like accepting defeat, but nothing could be further from the truth.  If anything, it gives you the ability to make clear rational decisions about what you might want to do next if anything.