If you cut to the chase of the meaning of life, it’s the ‘meaning’ part that we all long for. Beyond all of the stuff, excitement, and happiness we chase on any given day, all of us want to feel like we’ve made an impact on the world in some way. We need to know that we’ve made a difference.
Does the idea of making an impact on the world cause you to hyperventilate a bit – like you might have to join the Peace Corps or adopt an orphan from Indonesia?
Those are great things for sure, and there are many bold and courageous people whose lives are dedicated to making a huge difference in the world. But most of us aren’t those people. We have our jobs and families and lives that need our time and attention. We don’t have the time, or perhaps even the desire, to save the world or even volunteer at the soup kitchen. If that makes you feel guilty or frustrated, here’s a redeeming thought:
You can make a difference in the world and create some good karma for yourself in the short, often forgotten, free moments of your day or week. There are many small, simple actions you can take to profoundly impact your family, your community, and the world.
Lost time is never found again.
Think about those times when you are in an elevator, sitting in traffic, surfing the Internet. Or the Saturday when rain interrupts your plans for the day. These unallocated, free gaps of time could be spent creating small ripples of positive thought and action that add up to huge waves of good karma.
Here are some ideas for spending these time gaps in purpose-filled ways:
1–5 Minute Gaps of Free Time
1. Visualize someone you know who is suffering in some way and send them thoughts of loving kindness and peace.
2. Say something kind or complementary to the person who is serving you or waiting on you in a store or restaurant.
3. Help someone with their groceries or some other small service to assist them.
4. Pick up and throw away trash that you see on the street or in a park.
5. Send an email to someone to let them know you are thinking of them or to compliment something.
6. Find something in your house that you no longer need to give away to someone who can use it.
7. Forgive someone or ask for forgiveness.
8. Read something inspirational to create positive energy for yourself.
9. Take a minute to grab your own shopping bags to take to the grocery store.
10. Stop and give that homeless person some change and a kind word, even if you doubt their intentions.
15–30 Minute Gaps of Free Time
11. Call your parents and tell them how much you love and appreciate them and all they did to raise you.
12. Really listen to someone, without distraction or interruption.
13. Empower an entrepreneur in a developing country with a $25 loan through Kiva to help eliminate poverty.
14. Write a letter to your congress person either to thank them or advise them of a concern.
15. Collect items for a care package to send someone serving overseas.
16. Take the care package to the post office and send it.
17. Walk to lunch or to the store instead of driving.
18. Research a cause that aligns with your values and make a donation.
19. Send a group of friends information on your favorite cause, and ask them to join you in supporting it.
20. Plant a tree.
1–3 Hour Gaps of Free Time
21. Prepare a meal for someone for no particular reason and deliver it to them.
22. Watch someone’s children for them just to give them a break.
23. Teach someone a useful skill – cooking, changing a tire, balancing a checkbook.
24. Recycle your books and take those you’ve read to a book donation center.
25. Drop by a nursing home and sit and talk with an elderly person who doesn’t have a visitor.
26. Have a conversation with someone of another race, a different culture, a different religion, with different political views, and listen to their perspective openly without comment or argument.
27. Be completely present and engaged with your spouse, partner, and family members.
28. Plan and organize a group outing with your friends to plant a garden, clean up a community center, or work for a volunteer organization.
29. Educate yourself. Do some research on issues that impact you, your community, and the world. Awareness is the first step toward change.
30. Make a list of small things you can do around your house to conserve energy and water, stop waste, and recycle. Then start doing them.
When we have free gaps of time, the lure of the Internet, television, the refrigerator, or text messaging seem to fill this time before we even contemplate what we are doing. With the awareness that time gaps will appear on occasion, you can prepare yourself with purposeful actions that turn empty time into meaningful moments.
What about you? How have you turned your time gaps into good karma opportunities for making a difference in the world?
If you want to read more about creating meaning in your life, please download a copy of The Bold Living Guide: 7 Key Ingredients for a Meaningful Life, Barrie Davenport’s free eBook. Barrie is a personal and career coach and the founder of Live Bold and Bloom, a blog about bold and fearless living.
Photo by: Infinity Rain
Wow! You have done it again. I always enjoy your lists. This one is especially great. Just #4 alone would make our world a cleaner and more ideal place to live in.
Thanks for sharing!
Beautiful list, made me smile to see I already am doing many of these through my daily life.
Friday I saw a mother with two kids running to catch a bus. They couldn’t catch it, gave up, and the bus drove away towards the next stop. I pulled over, offered to get them to the bus, caught up to it, and they made it on. They thanked me profusely and couldn’t believe a stranger would do that. It made me feel good to lend a helping hand. I then remembered “Today you, tomorrow me.”
And if you don’t know what that is, check it out: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/06/magazine/06lives-t.html
Great Article! I do some of them but I can do more.
Thanks for posting!
In a world that I sometimes think is going stark raving bonkers this is just what I needed. Thank you! And also just read another readers link – in tears – beautiful.
What a list! I am sure if we all implemented this the world will surely be a better place.
I do some of these things from time to time, but this was a great reminder to do more of them more often.
Barrie/Live Bold and Bloom says
Thank you all for your kind comments. Nick, what a wonderful thing to do! You’ve inspired me to pass it on. I hope others share their random acts of kindness!
Angela Artemis says
Fantastic post. I had no idea how productive 5 minutes could be. Thank you for so many great and inspiring ideas.
Linda Gabriel says
I love that number 1 is number 1. Great article Barrie.
Ken Wert says
Barrie, I love your suggestions for filling small little moments of time we have sprinkled throughout most days with wonderful opportunities to live happier, more uplifting, meaningful and fulfilling lives.
We don’t realize how many more amazing things we could accomplish if we put all those little throw-away minutes to good use. And think of all the good that could be done around the world if the billions of people used those minutes to do good.
Thank you for such an inspiring post! I will definitely incorporate several of them into my spare moments!
Tess The Bold Life says
This is a wonderful and important list. I like no. 27 and make it a point to have electronics turned off when I’m with my family and friends. Twitter, Facebook, and emails can’t have my precious moments in time.
John Sherry says
We all have free time that could be priceless to others Barrie but sometimes lack the creative ideas to fully utilise it or think that we can’t do much in only 15 minutes. You’ve wonderfully shown that there’s much we can do with our spare moments that leave a little space dust in our wake and a smile on other’s faces. Bliss you!
absolutely wonderful….all of us can set our sights higher in order to make the world a nicer place to be. i also do some of the things on the list but could most definately work harder. thanks for the ideas….Im also a big believer in journaling…writing my thoughts and feeling….successes of the day….I love sharing the story…I love meeting new people…I love reading inspiring things….I care for my 92 year old Mom and as a hobby I have a little blogtalkradio show I started. I only have done about 8 shows so far but I have been meeting some wonderful people. I am going to share the link on my journal show….I am really setting my sights high to keep nice people connected….Love your blog so much!!!!http://t.co/D9Jm6DU
Love love love it! So thoughtful, and better yet, so easy to do!! Thanks for sharing with us!
I just tweeted because it simply needs to be shared with as many people as possible!
Barrie/Live Bold and Bloom says
I’m so glad you liked it. Yes, five minutes can make a profound impact on you or someone in your life. I’m sure you’ve used 5 minutes in many inspiring ways!
#1 is great! Visualizing and directing our thoughts I believe is an incredibly powerful ability humans have that most of us take for granted or don’t take serious enough. Never underestimate how powerful your thoughts are! Direct positive thoughts at people and it WILL come back to you.
Barrie/Live Bold and Bloom says
Thank you all for your wonderful comments. I’m sure I’m “preaching to the choir” here as so many of you are always creating good karma!
Sharon Koch says
Wow, this list is just incredible… I think perhaps I’ll use it as a “to do” list for the next month and try and do each item at least once!!
Kalen Chen says
Thanks for the wonderful article. Really enjoy reading your blog, always inspire me to find a new me in another way around myself. We’re not supposed to be the BIG person to change the world, but yes we can definitely do something to make the differences to our lives and make it more meaningful .
marquita herald says
I love lists like this and am always looking to add to my resources. I especially like your point about connecting with a homeless person even if your not sure of their intention. We see all the time people walking by someone who is down on their luck and doing whatever they can to avoid eye contact. We’re not the only ones though – I was in Japan on business a couple of years ago and the business associate I was walking with put his hand up to shield my eyes from a homeless person sitting on a step …
Jes Gut says
Great article- I’m thankful for this, it is just the type of motivation I needed today!
Barrie/Live Bold and Bloom says
Hi Shalen, Kalen, Marquita, and Jes,
It is so nice to get feedback like yours — so refreshing to know how many people in the world are good and kind and want to make the world better. You are so right about homeless people Marquita. It is so hard to look them in the eye and see them as real people who deserve dignity and kindness — even if they spend their money on “unacceptable” things like drugs or alcohol. I think in these cases, you do good for the sake of doing good and hope the person receives it that way.
Kaley Klemp says
I love love love this list! All amazing suggestions! Thank you!
marc van der Linden says
I’ve always found that during holidays is a great time to contemplate about what we can do in a purposeful way. Your list shows some great examples for this.
Thanks for sharing!
Barrie thank you for this great suggestion. I do some of them but I can do more. Definitely teh world woudl be a different place if we did more.
“8. Read something inspirational to create positive energy for yourself.”
I do this daily and it works wonders. 🙂 Thanks for the other reminders.
In reference to #25: If you don’t know what to say, play simple board games with them… they will love you for it.
I already do several of these anyway. You need to treat people how you want to be treated. If they still want to mess with you, do your best to be patient with them. I just have a problem with patience, because I am NOT a very patient person.
Great list, but tread lightly performing #19. I’ve seen some friendships damaged over this.
Katie Benedetto says
I’d add to this: Make a list of things you can organize, that would fill each time gap. Examples include: e-mail, computer files, digital photos, physical photos, car, refrigerator, etc. I do this during any breaks I have, especially on public transport (organizing digital assets). The feeling of being just a little more organized is so refreshing!
Just wanted to say I LOVE your blog – it’s one of my favorites. Thanks. 🙂
WOW great idea’s here! I’m going to starting improving my karma this afternoon. 🙂
Give blood. Should be on the list =)
But other than that. a good list
That’s great 🙂 I shared it on my Facebook page.
Very nice post. Performing these small actions certainly give us a sense of satisfaction and achievement. Blessings !!
Nice advice especially on the 1-5 minutes. On the 1-3 hours part I doubt anyone would not have anything to do with their time. And on the image you put about the internet and tv are not satisfying. for example I donate every month to savekids.comuv.com. I know the share of dollar I spent on the internet is going to help someone, then I can start my social addiction on facebook. Most people think that the news is educative but I think its manupulative.
Thank you very much.