“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”
— Mother Teresa
I was on the way to get my oldest three girls from school when my four-year-old asked a curious question:
“Why are so many things happening in the world?” she said.
Peeking at her little face through the rearview mirror, I replied, “There are a lot of things happening, aren’t there?”
I gave her a sympathetic smile, and then as we sat there in the carpool pick-up line we talked about the sad events that had happened recently in the news.
“But think of all the people who are being helpers,” I told her. “We can be helpers by being kind to everyone we meet.”
Seeming content, she gazed out the window, and that was the end of our conversation.
Because of recent events, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about minimalism and how it fits into the context of us being the “helpers.” Of being active participants in our communities—in the world. Do we see minimalism as an escape from going beyond the mark of just ourselves?
Or is minimalism a vehicle that better allows us to make a difference?
I firmly believe that it should be the latter, but I’ll be the first to admit that I sometimes struggle to think outside of myself and my own family. I’m working hard to simplify our life and reduce the extra noise and chaos.
But am I doing enough?
At the end of my days will I wonder if I could have gone bigger and made a difference? Or does living a simple life open my mind and heart up to effectively and purposefully make a small dent large enough for this big ‘ole world?
How to Change the World
If you want to change the world, here are a few ways to make a big difference:
1. Within yourself.
Sometimes we need to make some personal changes before we can help another. Our basic needs must be met, and in some cases we just have to wait for difficult times to pass.
If we’re struggling with relationships, depression, anxiety, money, ill health, or anything else along those lines, we’ve got to take care of ourselves first.
I’ve been there before. We all have been.
But once we get to that self-sufficient place (whether emotional, spiritual, or physical), we can turn around and touch the lives of others even better than we could before. Getting ourselves to a place of wellness is not selfish. If we have to cut back on some things to accomplish that, then I think we should.
2. Within your family.
I sometimes struggle with the amount of time it takes to care for my family. With four children ages four to eleven, I’m at that stage in life that demands a lot.
I see others contributing more and I sometimes wonder if I’m just not organized enough to make more things happen, or if I’m self-centered. However, if I push that aside and go with my gut, it tells me that families are important.
I truly believe that motherhood can move mountains. And if one mother needs to simplify life to focus on moving that mountain—then so be it. Little people are worth the time and energy it takes because they will grow up to be the big people who need to make a difference someday.
3. Within your community.
What would happen if we all started being a little more kind and helpful within our own communities?
Lately, I’ve been trying my best to smile at and be friendly with strangers. Especially when they engage with me first. There are so many people who are just seeking connection. It’s something simple that I’m realizing makes a difference.
If we can’t travel abroad, start a non-profit, or donate to worthy causes. We can still find small ways that make a big difference in our own communities.
One of the beautiful things about minimalism is that it simplifies our life in just the right way to open up white space in our lives and hearts for others.
Maybe we don’t have to do great big things to change the world. Perhaps we can simplify our thinking and start right here.