If you cut to the chase of the meaning of life, it's the “meaning” part that we all long for.
Beyond all of the stuff, thrills, and happiness we pursue on any given day, in the long run, we just want to feel like we've made an impact on the world in some way. We need to know we've made a difference with our one little life.
But does the idea of making an impact on the world cause you to hyperventilate — like you might have to join the Peace Corp or adopt an orphan from Indonesia?
Those are great things for sure, and there are many bold and courageous people whose lives are dedicated to making huge differences in the world.
But most of us aren't those people. We have our jobs and families and lives that need our energy and attention. We don't have the time, or perhaps even the desire, to save the world or even volunteer at the soup kitchen.
If that makes you feel guilty or frustrated, here's a redeeming thought.
You can find meaning in life and create some good karma for yourself in the stolen moments of your day or week. There are many small, simple actions you can take to profoundly impact your family, your community, and the world — especially during this season of love and giving.
“When you plant a seed of love, it is you that blossoms.”~ Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavati
Think about those times when you are in an elevator, sitting in traffic, surfing the internet. Or the Saturday when rain interrupts your plans for the day. These “time gaps” could be spent creating small ripples of positive thought or action that add up to huge waves of good karma — for yourself and the world.
Here are some ideas for spending your time gaps in purpose-filled ways:
1-5 Minute Gaps
1. Visualize someone you know who is suffering in some way and send them thoughts of loving kindness and peace.
2. Say something kind or complementary to the person who is serving you or waiting on you in a store or restaurant.
3. Help someone with their groceries or some other small service to assist them.
4. Pick up and throw away trash that you see on the street or in a park.
5. Send an email to someone to let them know you are thinking of them or to compliment something.
6. Find something in your house that you no longer need to give away to someone who can use it.
7. Forgive someone or ask for forgiveness.
8. Read something inspirational to create positive energy for yourself.
9. Take a minute to grab your own shopping bags to take to the grocery store.
10. Stop and give that homeless person some change and a kind word, even if you doubt their intentions.
15-30 Minute Gaps
11. Call your parents and tell them how much you love and appreciate them and all they did to raise you.
12. Really listen to someone, without distraction or interruption.
13. Empower an entrepreneur in a developing country with a $25 loan through Kiva.org to help eliminate poverty.
14. Write a letter to your congress person either to thank them or advise them of a concern.
15. Collect items for a care package to send someone serving overseas.
16. Take the care package to the post office and send it.
17. Walk to lunch or to the store instead of driving.
18. Research a cause that aligns with your values and make a donation.
19. Send a group of friends information on your favorite cause, and ask them to join you in supporting it.
20. Plant a tree.
1-3 Hour Gaps
21. Prepare a meal for someone for no particular reason and deliver it to them.
22. Watch someone's children for them just to give them a break.
23. Teach someone a useful skill — cooking, changing a tire, balancing a checkbook.
24. Recycle your books and take those you've read to a book donation center.
25. Drop by a nursing home and sit and talk with an elderly person who doesn't have a visitor.
26. Have a conversation with someone of another race, a different culture, a different religion, with different political views, and listen to their perspective openly without comment or argument.
27. Be completely present and engaged with your spouse, partner, and family members.
28. Plan and organize a group outing with your friends to plant a garden, clean up a community center, or work for a volunteer organization.
29. Educate yourself. Do some research on issues that impact you, your community, and the world. Awareness is the first step toward change.
30. Make a list of small things you can do around your house to conserve energy and water, stop waste, and recycle. Then start doing them.
When we have small time gaps, the lure of the internet, the TV, the refrigerator, or text messaging fill this time before we even contemplate what we are doing.
Now with the conscious awareness that bits of time will appear for you on occasion, you can prepare yourself with purposeful actions and turn empty time into meaningful moments.
Over the next few weeks, accumulate some good karma and make the world a little better along the way.
What about you? How have you turned your time gaps into good karma opportunities for making a difference in the world?