39 small ways to make a big difference (to yourself, to others and to the world)

file0001216055275You don’t have to dedicate your life to activism in order to make the world a better place. Start small and make your corner of the planet shine a wee bit brighter by doing any (or all) of these little acts of radical happiness. Or be inspired to do something completely different instead. Whatever you choose, as Mahatma Gandhi said, “be the change you want to see in the world.”

  1. Leave your change in the vending machine for the next person to use.
  2. Stop and look at flowers as you walk past them, whether they are in front gardens or just weeds growing through the pavement.
  3. Support crowdfunding initiatives of companies or ideas that excite you.
  4. Eat with no distraction other than real people. Slow down and taste every mouthful.
  5. Shopping in Waitrose? Give your green token to a kid – they love putting them in the slots.
  6. Buy a bird feeder and keep it stocked up and near your window.
  7. When you see something in a paper or magazine you’re reading that would interest a friend or make them smile, cut it out and post/text/tweet it to them.
  8. If possible, carry tissues, paracetamol, parking meter change and pens with you. Not only will it make your life easier, you will soon be someone’s saviour in a crisis.
  9. Cheer people on literally or metaphorically (but unmistakably).
  10. Comment on blog posts that you enjoy. 🙂
  11. Buy the Big Issue now and again, and chat to the person selling it.
  12. Compliment people.
  13. …and learn how to take a compliment yourself.
  14. Didn’t need to park for as long as you thought you would? Leave your unexpired ticket on the machine.
  15. Be fully present in conversations.
  16. Wear colours, even if it’s just a splash here and there.
  17. Get out for some fresh air every day.
  18. Make an unsolicited cup of tea or coffee for someone.
  19. Get enough sleep.
  20. Be aware and respectful of your food’s origins. Buy local/cruelty-free/organic where possible.
  21. Enjoyed a book/programme? Tell the author/presenter.
  22. Listen. Really listen.
  23. Put an occasional little note in your loved one’s lunch box.
  24. Share things that make you smile and spread good news online or offline.
  25. …and check facts before you are affected by unpleasant news or posts. Think twice about sharing negativity.
  26. Paint with a child, like a child – enjoy the experience without expectation of the outcome.
  27. Move your body regularly, whether it’s an aerobics class, a walk in the countryside or a dance round the kitchen.
  28. Say thank you. Be thankful.
  29. On a bus or train? Switch off your phone and look out of the window or people watch.
  30. In any transaction – even if you’re just buying a coffee – make eye contact with the person serving you, smile and connect.
  31. Keep a journal.
  32. Choose three charities that reflect your values and set up a monthly donation.
  33. Offer to babysit.
  34. Get to know any elderly residents in your street. Check in on them every now and then and have a chat.
  35. Don’t respond to or engage with bullies online or offline.
  36. Smile at yourself in the mirror.
  37. Sing. Often and loudly.
  38. Share your ideas in the comments. 🙂
  39. Spread the good feeling by sharing this post on social media. 🙂 🙂



39 small ways to make a big difference (to yourself, to others and to the world) — 12 Comments

  1. 40. Help someone who looks lost/confused or if you overhear someone trying to be understood (like if English is not their first language or if they are not from around here) ask if you can help them.

    41. Read to your child.

    42. At your next networking event, buy a coffee/tea for the person standing next to you.

    43. Leave a 5 star review on Amazon for someone who’s book you’ve read or product you’ve bought.

    44. Ask a new (or old – someone you’ve known for a while but don’t know very well) acquaintance to go for coffee and a chat.

    45. If you experience good customer service, tell the waiter/waitress or shop worker what a great job they are doing.

    46. Do something nice for your partner or loved one – something small or simple like making them a cup of tea or buying their favorite cookies/cake.

    47. Spend time commenting and liking other people’s posts on FB / Twitter.

    48. Smile at strangers when you walk past them on the street. Say ‘good morning’ to your neighbors even if you don’t know them.

  2. Love all your suggestions, Claire & Meg! Just before reading your blog, I made charitable donations to Chestnut Tree House from two portrait shoots I’ve recently done, and I treated my parents to lunch out today too! I’m on a roll… Does snuggling up on the sofa watching the match with your son count too?!

  3. Claire
    I love this! Wise words indeed. Also so easy. That’s what I like about your blogs – relevant and easy to implement!
    Thank you!

    • Good one! And if you don’t have a loyalty card, let the person behind you in the queue have your points…

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