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If we've gleaned anything from our time in lockdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic, it has to be a deeper understanding of just how connected we can be; that we are just as much a part of a global community as we are a part of our local neighbourhoods.
The acts of good that we practise in our day-to-day lives can ripple outwards, the effects felt not just in our wider suburb, city, or country, but potentially even on the other side of the world.
Of course, it's one thing to simply be aware that our actions can have effects we may not be able to fathom, and a whole other thing to observe some of those positive impacts in real time. Here are a few daily practices you can take up if you are eager to map your personal positive ripple effects:
Donate your time, money, or other resources
A surefire way of being able to measure your overall positive impact is simply by making donations to international charities or local community organisations. In the long term, making monetary donations to your favourite charities can help bring about a better future, for example through supporting reforestation and conservation initiatives or decreasing rates of poverty.
In the short term, too, monetary donations can dramatically change the lives of your fellow humans at an individual level. Your simple donation could end up becoming a new pair of shoes or a warm meal to somebody in need. In this sense, even one-off donations can have quite an impact.
You can teach children the value of even small acts of kindness and compassion through stories like Loren Eiseley's Starfish Story. Letting your children see you pledge support to charities on a routine basis will reinforce those messages.
If you don't have any charity that you can see yourself supporting on an ongoing basis, then why not find a specific cause? Often, charitable organisations will create fundraising appeals to provide support in times of crisis, like natural disasters or during times of conflict. If you feel the need to respond to a particular cause, simply search for a dedicated appeal that will ensure your donations are directed to the affected individuals.
Of course, donations don't have to be monetary. There are often volunteer opportunities for those who have time to spare. Local community organisations may also be keen to take donations of goods. For instance, animal welfare charities may be on the lookout for more bedding for their cages, or any free food or medicinal supplies that you may be able to offer.
Use your platforms to spread awareness
Although some may sneer at using social media to "raise awareness", the significance of simply sharing your experience, providing your social circle with a call to action, or even starting a dialogue about an issue, should not be underestimated. You should feel encouraged to use your platforms to discuss matters that are close to your heart, or perhaps even participate in existing campaigns that have been designed to alert, educate, and empower digital citizens.
It's worth noting that a lot of modern social movements are cultivated in digital spaces before they're able to make positive real-world impacts. You can play your part by participating in passionate and respectful conversations online, empowering movement leaders and participants to take their ideas into the real world, whether it be in the form of a charity, a protest, a petition, or simply a thought that when spoken enough, can carry through to the inner halls of Parliament House.
Make connections with other global citizens
As we're living in a rapidly digitising world, it's now easier than ever to make connections with people living all across the globe. This allows us to be more aware of international current affairs as they happen, giving us greater capacity for practising empathy towards people who may be experiencing the negative impacts of these events.
Platforms like Twitter are becoming modern news outlets, as users who find themselves "part of the story" take on the responsibility of keeping their fellow global citizens in the loop. This could be observed through the growth of the Black Lives Matter movement which, although originating in America, has now evolved into a transnational organisation that provides support and resources to underprivileged populations across the globe.
On a more personal level, many individuals are using their exposure to other people from other places as a means of making genuine friendships and connections. These global relationships can have a positive impact of the lives of the individuals you connect with, as well as on your own. Providing one another with a sense of community and a strong network of support, even in a digital sphere, can enhance lives on a day-to-day basis, as well as ensuring that nobody feels alone.
Be committed to setting a positive example
If you have kids, are an older sibling, or find yourself in any position of authority with children, one simple way you can change the world is by setting yourself up as a positive role model for all the impressionable young minds you find around you. Simple acts, such as picking up litter whenever you see it, recycling regularly and conscientiously, and going out of your way to make somebody else's day just a little bit easier, will demonstrate to the younger generation the small acts that can make the world a better place.
Seeing not only your efforts, but also the direct positive impacts of those efforts, will undoubtedly inspire many others in your personal and professional circles to follow in your footsteps, and pay the kindness that you show them forward. You may be surprised by just how impactful paying it forward can really be, until you experience what it's like to be the benefactor of such an act. Gratitude comes first, but it is definitely shortly followed by a thought you can't shake: "The world would be a far better place if people felt this joy every day."
Consume resources conscientiously
One barrier to us consistently paying kindness forward is the overwhelming pull of booming global industries, which can leave us feeling compelled to compete with others around us, rather than exist in harmony with them. Living with this mindset can lead to feelings of bitterness and hostility, which can be a detriment to quality of life.
Instead, it's a lot easier and far more pleasant to make your peace with the reality that our resources are finite, acknowledge that everybody has the right to enjoy these resources, and that the only way to ensure that everybody can do so is simply by making an effort not to over-consume yourself.
There are a myriad of ways to consume more ethically and conscientiously in your day-to-day life. You can take shorter showers, drive your car less, and not purchase food in excess when you go to the supermarket. On top of this, you can shop locally and in secondhand stores to expand your wardrobe rather than turning directly to fast fashion options, supporting your own circular economy rather than contributing to a convoluted and wasteful global production line.
People can choose all sorts of different ways to make a positive impact on the world, and chances are you won't practise all of the suggestions outlined above. As long as you're able to do what you can, however, and make these acts of good your very own, chances are you'll be brightening your little corner of the world to such a degree that the positive impacts of your actions will be sure to radiate outwards in no time at all.