As people we have myriad expectations from life. We want to be loved, appreciated, helped and agreed with by people around us and become depressed if it does not happen. Our general conversation revolves around the ineptitude of the government and civic bodies, failure of social institutions, rising crime, and general lack of empathy and humanity in people.
We hardly believe that perhaps we can do something to change the situation. We reject such suggestions saying we are too small or insignificant to affect positive changes in the world. We consider it a humongous task and think that it is natural for life and things to gradually deteriorate.
We fail to see that our job is not to change the world but be the best version of ourselves, in whichever small way we can. And once we decide upon it, the universe responds and returns our gestures accordingly.
Few days ago while hurrying to the catch my peak time morning Andheri local I saw an impeccably dressed middle- aged lady bending over and doing something intently at the railway station. When I focused I saw that she was pouring milk from a bottle into a paper bowl and an injured dog was drinking it. The moment the train hooted its arrival she closed the bottle, put it in her bag and ran to catch it. I paused and thought. “Does she have more time and less busyness than me? Did she care whether this act of hers would change the world or not?” No, she simply did what she believed in and silently inspired an onlooker like me. I realized that if we could be open about being useful and helpful in small, areas of life, that itself could go a long way in making this world a better place. And for that one need not throw in the towel and become a social worker. In daily lives too, our little alertness, open-mindedness and willingness to help can make a huge difference.
I have realized that goodness is as infectious as evils deeds, and once you start doing little good deeds, it spreads. As soon as I made up my mind to be mindful of small areas where I could make a difference, life presented me with innumerable opportunities. I saw that in my daily train commute itself, where people have a tough time boarding trains, standing in it and alighting from it because of the rush hour traffic, I could do a lot. Generally people standing at the footboard keep shouting to people inside to give space to them so that they could be safely inside.
Sometimes because of paucity of space and other times because of general apathy, their pleas fall on deaf ears and they precariously hang till the next station arrives. I decided to not be a mute spectator. Instead of being immune to their plight I began to shift, jostle, request others to make space and even pull in a few dangling passengers inside. During fights I often intervene and pacify people, and even defend a few poverty-stricken passengers who are harassed and bullied. Don’t be surprised, It’s a reality you would often come across if you travelled by first class coaches where second class passengers accidently enter. Yes it does not take much to create a beautiful world. And once you begin doing these things with confidence and conviction you would see people taking cues and emulating you. Which I am glad to say I am beginning to see.
Here below are a five ways to make a difference to this world without going out of the way.
Be polite: Thus simple gesture of talking politely to random people you run into in your daily life can go a long way in spreading positivity. Like the autodriver who’s auto you hire, the fruit and vegetable vendor,, your neighbourhood shopkeeper, the janitor, your peon. The rich may take these courtesies for granted but for these people a simple smile, a kind word means a lot.
Be kind to stray animals: Pet a stray cat or a dog or buy them some food. Once I came across a little puppy being pampered by a group of street dwellers. On inquiring I found that its mother had died, and it had been adopted by a poor man who would happily buy boiled eggs for his new friend. Believe me they are friendly creatures and often hungry for love and affection.
Treat those who look different from you kindly: This includes eunuchs, street urchins, villagers and poor people. Very often those who we find hugely different from ourselves in appearance tend to arouse our distrust and suspicion. Remember that there is heart within each which gets hurt on ill-treatment, and a soul that blesses profusely when treated with respect. Speak up for them if you see them being treated rudely by others.
Be sensitive to the elderly: Life becomes tough when your body no longer complies with your will. A little thoughtfulness towards them goes a long way in creating a beautiful world. A friend of mine would often offer to share the load if she ever saw them trudging with heavy luggage. While waiting in a queue or even sitting comfortably in a bus, metro or local train please offer your seat if you see them standing. The happiness you get on helping others is incomparable.
Be a responsible citizen: Be watchful of little things like an open tap, and close it. On seeing stones and other obstructions on a busy road remove it to prevent accidents. Let people with fewer items in their grocery basket get ahead of you at the billing counter. It saves their time and you too do not have to wait too long to get your work done. Remember to carry a cloth bag to buy vegetables and groceries. Do your bit for the environment.
The journey of a 100 miles starts with one step. As you perform such acts you would see how your own life will get filled with friendly, helpful people willing to go the extra mile to wipe your tears and be there for you in times of need.
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