Blessed with intellect and a set of skills, we, the human race, have been placed on Earth for a purpose, and it is our duty in life to discover exactly what that purpose is. As stated in the Bible, “to whom much is given, much is expected.” I believe giving back to society is, quite simply, a responsibility.
Many feel the task of positive change is impossible, something to be left to visionaries like Gandhi, who led a nation through passive resistance, or Elizabeth Cady Stanton, a heroic women’s rights activist. However, I believe each and every one of us can make a difference. And we can start this moment.
Changing the world begins with improving who we are on the inside. We each have a unique identity and our own distinct thoughts. These thoughts often propel us to act. So, by mindfully centering our thoughts in a positive direction, we can improve our actions and thus our character.
I can improve the world by consciously looking around and thinking, at every opportunity, How can I help? The most powerful way one can change the world isn’t simply by doing one thing, but instead is a way of life revolving around the concept of altruism. While some may side with the philosopher Hobbes and argue that every act is tainted by primal human desires of remembrance and power, and thus is not truly selfless, I disagree. Charitable acts are not selfish because they improve our society as a whole.
An altruistic act may be as small as smiling and wishing someone “Good morning” or as impactful as building a house for a homeless family. By completing small acts of kindness, I can gradually make the world a better place. Eventually, when I have the means, these small acts will evolve into greater deeds: helping people in less developed countries, adopting a child, or choosing a career where I improve lives. This lifestyle and kind acts all stem from the same root: self-improvement.
The Bhagavad Gita, a Hindu scripture, teaches that to perform selfless, kind acts, one must act with pure intention and a loving heart. This ensures the act genuinely will help others and not be self-serving. Additionally, this scripture teaches that you must surrender to the universe without expecting a certain outcome. As stated in the Gita, “Let not the fruit of action be your motive to action. Your business is with the action alone.”
The positive impact I can make starts within myself; by becoming a truly giving person, I can change the world. While self-improvement may seem a passive process, it’s actually a challenge requiring daily practice. It involves continually controlling my thoughts and actions to determine the type of person I want to be. My mission to positively change the world begins with self-improvement and concludes with making kind acts an instinctive part of my daily life.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.