Simple Ways to Make a Difference (to yourself AND others)

 

I often hear people say that they “just want to make a difference

It’s frequently the simple things that can make the biggest difference.

And usually they are not rocket science either.

I was recently a patient in hospital and it gave me the opportunity to people watch on a grand scale – not that I am encouraging a hospital stay to people watch, you can do that in many places!

But a few weeks ago, I spent some time in hospital and witnessed a multitude of behaviours and attitudes from staff and patients. And I became aware that, so often, it can be the smallest things that make a biggest difference.

As a heads up though, they do take effort and attention.

They don’t just magically happen!

You have to do something.

But the impact on yourself and others can be huge.

And can have a ripple effect. 

So my invitation to you is to notice which of these you already do and first consider how it impacts you, and then look at how it impacts others.

Then notice others that are doing these simple things and again, look for the impact on themselves and others.

Are you ready to really start making a difference?

Are you ready to really start making a difference? Click To Tweet

 

OK…

 

1) A Smile

A simple free act that the majority of us have the ability to do, yet do we?

A smile doesn’t have to match that of the Cheshire cat and, in fact, doesn’t always have to show at the mouth.

Often, especially in situations of illness, bad news or tough times, a smile from the eyes is more appropriate.

Have a go right now.

Imagine there are smiles in each of your eyes.

Notice how that impacts your body.

Your thoughts.

#idareyou

For me, each time I give my attention to eye smiling, I notice a sense of relaxation.

Tension eases from the body and my breath deepens.

What happens for you?

Once you have the hang of it, practise it around others — in the coffee shop, at the bus stop, in work, at home. Smile just with the eyes and notice what happens for you and, possibly, for them too.

In hospital it helped me relax, even when things where tough. And I noticed that staff were practising it too – consciously or non consciously – and for me, that helped to connect with them with greater ease. It helped to digest information, ask questions and request help.

The simple act of smiling can make a big difference.

And of course you can smile in the usual way too!

The simple act of smiling can make a big difference Click To Tweet

 

2) Connecting

This fast-paced world in which we currently live, seems to be shouting ‘next’ and ‘more’ or ‘I’m busy’ more often than it does ‘slow down, ‘take a breath’ or ‘pause’.

Sat in a hospital bed, at times on full bed rest, I had little choice about slowing down!

It was kind of enforced.

It gave me the opportunity to take time and gain clarity each day on what I needed and possibly what others needed too – other patients, family, friends or clients.

Often, when being a patient, you become a bed number, procedure, symptom or diagnosis. It’s easier for the staff to keep track of who is who rather than use names. From a patient perspective it can seem odd and a change of identity to hear “bed 7 needs assistance” or “the appendix lady needs a gown”.

It has practicalities for the staff but can seem impersonal for a patient. So staff that took the time to slow down – within the demands of a busy hospital – stood out and were much appreciated.

And again it was the simple thing that enabled a connection;

A nurse taking a moment to sit with you and answer questions is a valued connection.

A health care assistant remembering your name or even your drink preference is a valued connection.

Anyone – staff, patient, friend, family member, passer by – noticing something other than your illness (e.g the book you are reading, that you had visitors etc) is a valued connection.

The majority of us want to be ‘seen’. And a simple way to do this and make a difference to someone is to slow down, notice something about them, and remember it by taking the time to connect.

Obviously this doesn’t just relate to hospital staff or patients. This matters in all areas of life.

With family. At work. With friends.

Have you taken the time to really connect with those around you?

Have you taken the time to really connect with those around you? Click To Tweet

In person?

Have you turned off your digital devices so that you can give those around you your full attention?

And, more importantly, do you take the time to connect with you?

Making connections isn’t some fluffy, woo woo, would-be-nice-if-I-had-the-time requirement.

It’s vital for human being; babies without human connection do not thrive.

It is also a contributing factor in helping people recover from addictions.

 

 

 

The simple act of taking the time to connect with yourself and others can make a big difference.

Notice it for yourself and others.

Where do you take the time to connect and when/where do you disconnect?

Who do you think you have a connection with and how has that been created?

Look at how you can use this method elsewhere and as ever, notice others who take the time to connect. What are they doing and how could you add those behaviours into your daily routine?

 

3) Kindness

 

If you know the work I do at all, have heard me speak or joined the live confidence conversations each week (find them here) then you will know that I often say Kindness Is Key.

In fact, it is one of the Keys of Confidence (which you can download for free here)

For me, kindness isn’t that saccharine, over the top, fake kindness, as that isn’t real kindness. It’s false!

True kindness is the quality of being friendly, considerate and generous Click To Tweet

 

And this isn’t just an external process about how you treat others — more importantly, it’s an internal process about how you treat you!

Are you friendly, considerate and generous to you?

No matter how you perceive your day is going!

This is an ongoing practise for me and one that I came up close and personal with during my hospital stay.

My thinking was impatient.

Wanted to get home.

Get on.

Get back to work.

Get a sense of being back in control (for anyone who has worked with me you will know that control is a big topic of conversation!)

It wanted to rush the processes and was not being considerate, friendly or generous.

And that type of thinking is going to create stress, tension, anxiety, worry etc

And how do you think that would have impacted my recovery? My health?

How would it impact you?

Once I noticed this thinking had grabbed my attention, I made a choice. To change my attention and indulge self kindness instead.

One of my go-to questions to help this shift is:

What would be a kind thought I could have about myself right now?

Or what would be a kind thought I could have about this situation or person right now?

I used this so often in the hospital. Patients and staff were coming and going at all times of the day and night, which made it hard to sleep. And in those tired times my thinking was sometimes less than kind!!

But if I wanted to sleep, relaxation was key and thinking unkind thoughts (in fact, darn right rude and mean at times) was going to create more stress than relaxation and probably keep me awake.

So I asked the question;

What would be a kind thought I could have about myself right now?

Or what would be a kind thought I could have about this situation or person right now?

and looked for possibilities…

‘That person could be in pain. They are scared/worried’

‘That patient might be hard of hearing hence speaking loudly’

‘The nurse may be very tired, hence bumping into things’

‘I can focus on my breathing’

‘I could watch or read something.’

etc

Each time the impact on me was that I relaxed and even if I didn’t get sleep, my body had more chance of healing in a relaxed state than a stressed one.

Again, the simple act of being or thinking in a kind way can make a big difference.

 

 

So now it’s over to you.

Which of these simple ways to make a difference can you implement first?

Remember to look first for how you can do it for you and then how you can do it for others.

And let me know in the comments below what you notice.

And, if you want to read more about the power of self kindness you can read Chloe’s story here.

 

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