By Lani Aquino
Making a difference; it’s spoken of often, but what does it really mean? It can be hard to take in the events occurring in the world, nation, and communities that surround us and determine a starting point for making a difference. How can a singular action in one locale make an impact? By shifting to a positive mindset and enacting positive change through actions, a difference can be made, and, yes, it all starts with a singular step.
A lot of time can be spent pondering the question, What can I do? Often times the query is as far as a person gets because impactful action seems insurmountable. In actuality, every step taken makes an impact, and starting the journey toward positivity doesn’t have to begin with a grand gesture. Opening students’ eyes to different ways of thinking and opportunities to instill change creates a ripple effect that can reach far beyond the walls of one classroom. Through the ripples, making a difference in the world occurs.
3 Ways to Take the First Steps
Many schools, classrooms, sporting programs, etc. focus on character building. To find success in these endeavors, more than the posting of a positive character quality must be involved. Students and teachers alike must be active participants in highlighting said qualities and actively building character development. A purposeful integration must be practiced. Programs like the Positivity Project are a great place to start. Helping students gain an understanding of the complexities of character that exist in every one of us can have a huge impact. Inspiring students to embrace their own qualities and accept the differences within others allows them to embody their true selves. Gaining an understanding of their own uniqueness and attributes will allow them to hone in on how they can best make a positive impact.
Be the Helpers
There is no short supply of worthy causes or movements both far and near. Making an impact can happen by being the helpers and getting involved. Whether natural disaster, tragic event, and/or group in need, a difference can be made by extending the offer to help. That helping will look different for each scenario. Once an immediate need is filled, the bigger impact can come from following the cause and continually meeting the changing needs. Monetary donations may be the best form of helping initially, but as those first immediate needs are met, students can pull together to do specific drives or craft specific resources to best aid in long-term help and healing. By following a cause over time, students can begin to see the impact rather than view a collection or drive as an independent event.
The benefits of practicing mindfulness impact individuals, but they can also be far-reaching. By working with students to self-reflect and evaluate their academic undertakings, teachers are helping students lay a foundation to practice mindfulness in their thoughts and actions outside of the educational realm as well. As students learn to take these more introspective and purposeful steps in thinking and viewing within their own lives, a transference to being more empathetic to the plight of others begins to occur. As these first mindfulness steps are taken, they are the stepping stones toward being mindful of how their own actions can affect others and make a positive (or negative) impact.
Enacting a positive change doesn’t have to begin with a grand gesture. Every stride that is taken becomes a part of a larger collective. A single action or initiative can set a ripple effect in motion that reaches far beyond a lone event in the classroom. Whether joining a movement, championing a cause, and/or practicing mindfulness is the starting point chosen, it is the taking of that first step that makes all the difference.
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