Chris here. I was diving into my favorite gluten free cake recipe today and started thinking about changing the lives of others.
First off, this is a great cake recipe. I am not even kidding, it is knee bucklingly good. Sit down when you take your first bite because your limbs will be immediately paralyzed as they are when you put something in your mouth that blooms into quiet ecstasy. (Please do not attribute a weird sexual connotation here and muddy the waters. I am talking about food porn right now and no other.)
While I was thinking and baking, which is never wise for me to do as I have burned more dishes than I have actually served, I realized that this person, the Minimalist Baker, with her fabulous recipe has changed my life.
I make this cake every week so I can have a little bit of it for breakfast. My routine now includes the art and creation of another person. She has changed my life.
When we speak of changing someone’s life, I think we get the idea that we have to change all of it in one fell swoop for it to count.
This does occur and when it does it is awesome but the changes don’t have to be head splitting epiphanies to change our lives for the better.
The Chain of Change
I was talking to my BFF who lives very close by me. We are in a tight knit community and one of the reasons we love it here is because the neighbors are friendly. We all wave to each other and smile as we pass. It doesn’t matter if we haven’t met these people before. They are our neighbors and by waving we are acknowledging our common bond of neighbor-hood.
At one point, some of the new people to the community did not wave. We decided that we were going to get them to wave and smile. We steadfastly continued to wave until they got the message that they were welcome here and we wanted them to be part of our community by observing this simple custom.
If they refused to wave, we hid our golf carts behind the bushes and ambushed them with oven mitts so as to avoid leaving marks. KIDDING! We never did.
My point is that just waving at someone can and does change their life if only for a brief moment. It makes the world that much more friendly.
Then when they wave at someone else, that person feels part of the community too. Suddenly there is a chain.
As I was stirring my cake batter I also realized that good changes tend to chain out stronger and more consistently than bad changes. At least it seems that way to me.
Most people like the idea of changing someone else’s life for the better. They abhor the idea that they have negatively impacted someone.
It is human nature to want to help people and to change things to make them better.
There are many other examples.
When my dad was dying of cancer, my mom and I were in his hospital room having gotten up early that morning to spend what was going to be his final day with him.
Even when you are with someone who is going through something like that with you, no matter what, you do feel very alone. Pain and anguish are very personal things. It is easy to feel forgotten and forsaken.
When we arrived, we had not eaten breakfast. Neither of us had much of an appetite.
But shortly after we got there a nurse brought in a bag of pastries. My cousin who worked at the hospital had bought them and left them for us.
It was a small gesture. It probably did not take her out of her way much but that one act was the thing that stopped me from feeling so alone. All that day I felt that she was there with us even though she was giving us space and privacy.
My dad died the next day. To this day and until the day I die I will never forget that kindness.
And when I know of someone going through something as awful as what we went through, I want to do something meaningful for them. I want them to know that they are not alone.
Have you changed someone’s life? I am sure you have in many seemingly small ways.
Take a look over the last week. Look at each time you did something nice for someone. Did you cook a great meal? Did you hold the door? Did you wave? Did you help someone understand something?
All of these small things may seem insignificant but if we doubled up on them, we could change the entire world for the better. And we could change our lives.
And that would be a very good thing.
Hope this helps.