Joseph Lilli: May 2013 Writing Challenge Winner


Only a Few Minutes to Make a Difference . . .

If I could do anything in the world, where money wasn’t an issue, what would it be?

That’s certainly a good, thought-provoking question. One I gave much serious thought before sitting down to write this essay. But nothing came to mind. At least, nothing I felt seriously compelled to do.

I thought, “Either I lack imagination or I’m simply so content, I don’t long to do more.”

Then it came to me the other day while reading an article by Ralph Marston, publisher of The Daily Motivator.

Marston wrote, “It’s great to observe what happens in the world. It’s infinitely better to play an active, contributing role . . . to fill the day with meaningful substance, and fill the world with your own special joy.”

I immediately thought, “What a fantastic idea.” That’s what I want to do — play an active, contributing role in the world. Make a difference. Bring joy to others.

So I asked myself, “How shall I accomplish this?”

More serious thought ensued. Then, while stopped at a traffic light on my way to the grocery store, I spotted an elderly man in dirty, tattered clothes standing on the street. He was clutching a cardboard sign that read, “Please help a homeless vet.”

With no time to dig in my wallet before the light turned green, I shouted out to him, “Head over to Subway. I’ll buy you lunch.”

He nodded and flashed a toothless smile. The man’s name was Jon and he kept thanking me all through the meal. His appreciation overwhelmed me with such happiness.

Before we parted, I slipped a $5 bill in his hand and he exclaimed, “God bless you, sir. God bless you.”

As I drove off, I decided this one act of kindness was just the beginning. I then planned to do at least one act of kindness every day for the next 60 days. Just for starters.

Not two hours later, I had my next opportunity. As I stood in line at the grocery store with a full cart, I noticed a woman behind me with just a carton of eggs. I turned and told her to go ahead of me. I got a big smile and a warm thank you for that.

The next day, I called an 88-year-old woman I knew just to say “hello” and see how she’s doing. She was thrilled!

These small, random acts of kindness can have a ripple effect. They’re important and their effects can spread from one or two people through an entire community.

So of all the things in the world I could do, this is what I want to do. There’s nothing complicated or magical about showing kindness. It just takes a willingness to pay greater attention to the people around you and their needs.

Each act of kindness is a source of happiness. The little acts of kindness, the little courtesies, are the things that, added up at night, constitute the secret of a happy day.


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