Gandhi famously said “be the change you want to see in the world.” When the world around is so chaotic, when so many are afraid and suffering due to sickness, economic hardship, and isolation, it can be difficult to remember that we are, in Marianne Williamson’s words, “powerful beyond measure.”
There are, however, ways that we can make a difference. Individually, these acts may be so small as to seem insignificant, but cumulatively they can have an effect. They can certainly raise your personal vibration and that of those around you.
Here are a few ways I’ve thought of or witnessed…
I read an account of a 9/11 first responder who told a grocery store cashier, “You are the front line now. You are the heroes of this crisis.” The clerk broke into tears.
Some folks you might thank:
- Health care workers
- Delivery people
- Mail carriers
- Police, fire and EMTs
- Distribution warehouse workers
- Bus drivers
- And, of course, grocery store employees
A simple ‘thank you’ in person works well. You can also post memes or send emails. I heard the sirens of the fire truck in my neighborhood the other day. It reminded me of my friend, Steve, who is a firefighter. I dropped him an email to see how he was doing and to thank him for his service.
At the grocery store, I told the deli worker he was a hero. He just looked down, a little embarrassed, but a customer standing nearby smiled. Spread gratitude around. It matters.
Buy Gift Cards
So many businesses are shuttered now. Many of those that are still operating are struggling. Go online and purchase gift cards from your favorite local businesses. This will give them much needed income and, perhaps even better, it tell them that you are standing by them. That you know they will still be there in the future, that you are waiting for their return and that you will be back as a customer.
Support Local Businesses with Online Purchases
Before you automatically click on that Amazon short cut, think through who offers the product locally and check their website to see if they are selling online and can deliver it to you. Maybe you’ll pay more but you’ll be investing in the local community. You’ll be helping to ensure that they’ll be able to open their doors back up when it’s safe to do so. (Full disclosure: I was reluctant to post this one because I’m terrible on this front. I’m going to change my ways.)
Random Acts of Kindness
Some kids in my neighborhood took their colored chalk and wrote all sorts of messages on the sidewalk, like, “We’ll get through this!”
Offer to Help
I just moved back to Naperville to help out my elderly parents. Being new to the neighborhood, I don’t know anyone, but I got an email list of the neighbors from my dad. I sent an email introducing myself and offering to get groceries for folks (I’m probably one of the youngest people in the neighborhood). The response was tremendous, though so far only one couple took up the offer. I’m so much more connected to my neighborhood now. I was invited to join the book club (when it resumes).
If you do this, of course, practice all the safety precautions. By the way, here’s an awesome video about how to bring groceries into your house in a safe way.
Reach out to friends and family (especially the elderly and those living alone). Use the phone, email, text, or snail mail.
Yesterday, we saw the sad sight of an elderly neighbor being taken away by ambulance. We don’t know this woman, but my mom can see her house from her chair at the kitchen table. She often comments on the “little old woman across the way.” My mom’s 85 herself. We are going to send her a card, introduce ourselves, and wish her well. I just hope she’s well enough to read it soon.
Leverage Your Tech Expertise to Help Others Connect
I use Zoom for my business, and I’m sure many of you have now experienced that platform or something similar. I hosted a virtual gathering of my cousins. One of my uncles recently passed away and it was a great opportunity for us all to support our cousins in processing their grief, especially since they were unable to hold services.
My mom’s friends are going to use Zoom to have a virtual coffee klatch.
Offer a Free Version of Your Typical Services
I’ve been heartened by the outpouring of free stuff that people are offering up to help people get through these rough times. My friend, Audrey, posted an excellent resource guide on her website. Personally, I’ve been partaking of free group coaching calls and I’m taking a free online course by Christian Mickelsen called Success Accelerator. On the lighter side, I’m enjoying the 24-Hour Play Festival. Normally a live event, the festival has moved online to provide entertainment during the quarantine. My personal favorite is Patrick Wilson as a creepy real estate agent.
I’ve been inspired to offer my own Free Pop Up Group Coaching, which you can access here. I’ll be hosting sessions throughout April. If you’d like to be coached, simply bring a concern to work through. I also encourage you to attend even if you just want to watch and listen. We can always learn from each other’s experiences.
Give the Gift of Entertainment
This could take many shapes… send someone a puzzle or a book (from a local bookstore, if possible), share funny and uplifting content, gift a new channel to someone. Many years ago, when Netflix wasn’t really a thing yet, I gave my parents a free year of the streaming service. My dad isn’t the kind of guy who pays to watch movies, and certainly not TV, but after a year, they were hooked, and never looked back. Now Netflix is a nightly fixture for my folks. Two new favorites of mine are BritBox and MHZ.
Spread Positive Memes and Trends
One of my favorites is the movement of entertaining neighbors, birthday caravans and making noise to celebrate and give thanks to medical workers. One global movement is called #SolidarityAt8. People step out of their homes at 8pm to make as much noise as possible to give a thanks to health care workers and other essential workers. It acknowledges the firefighters, police officers, EMTs, mail carriers, delivery people, grocery store employees, truckers, bus drivers, Uber and Lyft drivers, factory workers etc. who are putting themselves on the line to provide us all with the care we need, the services we rely on, and keeping the supply chain humming.
If your neighborhood isn’t doing yet, just organize something yourself. Here’s some inspiration
I got a chuckle out of the Lori Lightfoot memes, showing the Mayor as a kind of Big Sister, lurking around Chicago landmarks with her protective eye. Making it even better, Lightfoot reportedly likes the memes. She even showed her sense of humor in a public safety PSA.
And finally, if you are blessed enough to have discretionary money during this catastrophe, why not spread the financial love? Contribute to your favorite charity or peruse crowdsourcers like GoFundMe to take a look at the numerous ways you can support those devastated by the impacts of the pandemic. I recently contributed to these two: Navajo & Hopi Families COVID-19 Relief Fund and Naperville Helps!. The first one is kind of self-evident. The second is run by the Naperville (Illinois) Chamber of Commerce and pays for take out orders from local restaurants to feed tired and hungry medical workers. Perhaps look for something similar in your own community. If you are at a loss, might I recommend Operation Hope in Vista, California. This organization helps homeless women and families to get off the streets and they are on the verge of closing due to the collapse of regular donations.
And finally, and perhaps most significantly, the biggest contribution you can make is to simply STAY HOME.
I’m a mindset coach for aspiring writers. I help writers master their mental game so that they can focus on what they love: writing. I help my clients to tap their inner source of motivation and inspiration, create the time to write, and quash the self-doubt that plagues so many creatives so that they can finally finish their first draft.
If you’re ready to get serious about your writing, please visit me online at kiraswanson.com or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to chat.