What does it really mean to make a difference? When you look at today and you look at yesterday, you can always see differences when you look for them. Life happens, even when we are not looking. We are on a course that is using resources and if we keep doing the same things every day, tomorrow holds a predictable picture of less resources, which certainly is different than today. So, an absolute difference between today and tomorrow is one kind of difference.
Another kind of difference we make is one that changes course and brings us to a destination that is different than what is predictable today. Sometimes the destination is not so predictable, but it is the possibility of a different path that excites our initiative.
There are differences of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. No, I’m not just talking about math. Some people are making a difference by signing petitions for funding for wildlife research (addition of money). Some people are raising their voices to stop whaling (subtraction of whale hunts). Others are advertising their causes in the mass media to multiply their support while many use language of fear and hate to divide perspectives and disperse their opponents.
I like the differences of transformation. As a transformative difference comes into being, the same circumstances take on a different meaning and present a new opportunity. One transformational difference I am making is how we, in the United States, relate to the events of growing old until our body ceases to function. Today this is called “dying”. I am making this transform into “completing one’s life”. This is a big difference. It will take time and effort to make it. There is a great difference in the experience of the event if one relates to it as death or one relates to it as completion. How one relates to the event impacts how one cares for the being that is going through the event. The choice of words has tremendous power for us. Would you rather die? or would you rather complete your life? How does your perspective shape how you live today?
What is your mode of making a difference? When you are making your difference, however you choose to go about it, please do it with intention and passion so that when your time comes, you know you have expressed yourself fully and you are complete with your life.
David Lazaroff is author of Live It Up! 10 Ways to Share Joy When Your Friend Has Alzheimer’s. David coaches family and friends of people with Alzheimer’s Disease in creating a fun and joyful life. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
David is the founder of Holistic Community Living, a Colorado nonprofit founded to operate and teach others to operate neighborhood-based assisted living homes where people can complete their lives with those they love.