At one time or another, we look back at what we have done and wonder, “have I made a difference?” The truth is, simply by existing, we make a difference. But most people are looking for something more than that.
If you are wondering how to make a difference, let me share 11 ways that you are already making a difference.
1) The way we treat people makes a difference
We make a critical difference every day in the way we treat the people around us. If we are kind or friendly, we are contributing to people having a good day, whereas if we are cruel or rude, we might make someone’s day worse than it has to be.
While there can be many things going on in someone’s life, if we treat them with respect it can make a difference.
A lot of how we see the world comes from our interactions with other people; if those interactions are positive, we will likely see the world in a good light. But if those interactions are negative or stressful, that will increase dissatisfaction and lead to more stress.
Every day you make a difference in people’s lives, so you must keep this in mind and make those experiences positive rather than negative.
2) We vote with our dollars when we buy stuff
I have some doubts about how effective voting in an election can be, but I do know one place where our votes make a huge difference, and that is when we buy things. Arguably, you don’t have a lot of choice for some things, but generally speaking, we can vote with our dollars, making a huge difference.
If you don’t like how a company treats its employees, you can stop buying their products.
If you are worried about child slavery in the chocolate industry, you can purchase fair-trade chocolate. While we don’t usually have an option to opt out of the system, we can constantly adjust our choices to encourage better behaviour from corporations.
You make a fundamental difference to the world every time you buy something, so be sure to make good choices with your purchases because they matter.
3) We set an example for everyone who sees us
When we act in a way that we are proud of, other people see this, and our actions serve as inspiration. On the other hand, when we do bad things, we also, in a way, grant permission to others to do the same. For these reasons, our example matters and makes a difference to the people around us.
When we work hard at things that we value, that encourages other people to act the same way, and while not everyone can have the same level of success, life is satisfying when we work towards things that matter to us.
The example that we set serves as a guide for all to see, and so if we are good, we can expect good, but at the same time, if we are imperfect, we shouldn’t expect much from other people.
Our actions matter because they serve as an example for everyone to see, so every day, we are making a difference by the example we set.
If you want the world to be a better place, make sure you set a good example.
4) Your unique perspective affects other peoples decision making
Making choices is difficult, but we have to do it all the time, and so we talk to other people and get feedback or suggestions. For some things, people will rely on the news or whichever voice is the loudest, but other times that means they will turn to friends and family. For this reason, we make a difference to people because we influence their choices.
I was recently reluctant to make a big decision, but everyone around me pushed me to do it, so I eventually did it. Sometimes we are hesitant about things for different reasons, and we need the encouragement of others to make the right decision.
Right or wrong, it doesn’t matter, what does is the different perspectives that we get from the people we interact with.
Your perspective makes a difference because it might be unique or something that someone hasn’t heard before. For this reason, what you think is vital because it will be a part of the framework that people use to make decisions in the future.
5) Your emotional states are contagious
Another way that we make a crucial difference is through our emotional states because they are contagious. As social animals, we feed off of the emotional states of the people around us. If you are positive, it is more likely that the people around you will be positive, but at the same time, if you are cynical, you should expect others to be that way as well.
There is that saying, “we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with.” While this might not be a provable scientific fact, it is reasonable to say that we pick up on emotions and feelings from the people we spend the most time with.
People pick up on that to varying degrees and determine how they will react depending on who they spend time with.
A meaningful way that we make a difference is through our emotional states, so it is important to try and control our feelings.
I don’t mean to suggest that we hide how we feel; instead, we should be aware of their effect on others.
6) We direct other’s actions through our actions
Related to one of the previous points about how we set an example for others, this one is slightly different in that it looks at our actions at the moment. Most of the time, you might be a kind and peaceful person, but if the energy is high, you might be aggressive, and others will follow.
To give an example, a few years ago, a local sports team won the championship, and the whole city went wild. This was a favourable situation; people were happy and peaceful and didn’t cause any harm.
But if you look at other cities where the team lost, chaos ensued after one person was willing to cross the line and do something destructive.
In the heat of the moment, our actions can make a huge difference, and people might do what would have been unimaginable before. For this reason, it is essential that we control our actions and don’t let them get out of hand at the wrong time.
7) Your opinions matter to someone
While we can’t tell other people what to think, that is on them; when we talk to friends or family about what we care about, we share our perspectives. And while people might value our viewpoint or any other differently than we do ourselves, there is no denying that what we think and say matters.
I often find that I can’t entirely agree when I hear popular opinions, but the other side is often disagreeable.
Usually, the truth lies in the middle, but the center isn’t apparent unless we get different perspectives. For this reason, what we think and do matters and makes a difference cause it serves as inspiration, both good and bad.
We are always making a difference when we share our thoughts on a topic, but we shouldn’t expect others to follow us blindly. The truth is that even if people disagree, they still learn something from every interaction.
8) When we care about things, it shows
We all have our interests and topics; some people are into sports, while others are into business or technology. Regardless of what you follow, the people around you will be aware of it because it is something that you talk about. In short, the things we care about matter to us, and other people can see this.
This makes a difference because we show it to other people, and often interest comes from exposure.
You might not be into cryptocurrency, but if your friend is always talking about it, you might do a little research. It is also important to note that even if people don’t share our interests, they get exposed to them through interactions with us.
We make a difference all the time by sharing our interests with our friends and families. And while they might not latch onto the topics as much as we do, at least they will have had a chance to consider them.
9) By supporting people, we empower them
One huge way we make a difference is in our support for the people we care about. When we support a friend with what they are working on, they will work harder and keep at it. In a sense, this is empowering because it helps them feel like they aren’t doing it all on their own and that others believe in them.
When working on something difficult, it can be hard to keep going if you don’t see the results you’d hope for.
However, when someone you know is encouraging you or showing support, that will help you keep your motivation.
Even at times, committing to something in the presents of another person might force you to keep with it longer than you would otherwise.
Regardless of why someone is doing something, if they have support from others, they will feel empowered and be willing to keep it. You can make a difference to them by giving them help when they need it.
10) Your focus determines what is important
There is an infinite number of things to care about in the world, but you choose only a few of them to focus your attention on. What we care about gets our attention, and our attention determines what is essential. As I mentioned earlier, we vote with our dollars, so it is more likely to be there next month if we buy something today.
At the same time, if you are into a project, you will give it attention and focus, and it will become more prominent as a result. When this is an ongoing project, your attention makes it more likely to succeed and grow.
We contribute to what we care about and focus on, making those things more likely to grow in influence.
Every day, you make a difference in the things and people you care about; your attention to those things gives them the potential to grow and become more significant.
11) Your assistant makes tasks easier and faster
As I hinted in the previous point, our focus on things makes them more meaningful and increases their attention. If you have time and care about something, you are more likely to help it succeed. That, in turn, makes the project easier for the people already working on it or can help it finish faster than would have been possible otherwise.
We all have a limited amount of time and resources that we can contribute to what we care about. But even if we have very little time or resources, our attention and focus make a difference to those ventures.
Whatever we put effort towards becomes more significant as a result, and so our assistance matters.
While we can’t help with everything, we do have the time to help with some things, and that is where we can make the most difference. At the same time, we must consider what we put our time towards because those things will grow regardless.
You are already making a difference.
Sometimes it is easy to feel like what we are doing doesn’t matter or isn’t making a difference to the world around us. But the reality is that this is not the case; everything we do makes a difference, even if that difference seems negligible.
While you might not be making a massive difference, you are changing the world, and that is what matters.
If you are worried that you aren’t making a difference, look around and see all the ways that you are contributing and think positively about that. If you are concerned about what you might be doing wrong, consider trying something else, you aren’t locked into your choices or decisions.
But what is most important to remember is that you are already making a difference in everything you do, so don’t worry too much if you feel otherwise.