I’m sure many great, powerful and rich people think about how they can make a difference in the world. There are so many big problems, and they require big solutions, right?
Actually, sometimes little things can make a really big difference. I learned this lesson one day five years ago with my father, when I was just acting like myself – a nine-year-old kid.
Papa came home late from work after 9 pm. He’s a businessman who works long hours, and on this day he looked even more tired and stressed than usual. His eyes were already half-closed from weariness.
I, on the other hand, was completely hyper. I followed him to his bedroom, skipping and doing the “Walrus Dance,” which I had made up myself. This ridiculous routine involved twisting my arms and legs in opposite directions.
Papa trudged up the stairs, slowly lifting his large feet one after the other. He seemed to fall deeper and deeper into exhaustion every step he took. I was afraid that I would have to start pushing him, so I stopped dancing and got ready for the worst. Fortunately, he made it to the bedroom on his own.
Papa sat down on the bed and started removing his shoes and socks. “How was work?” I asked cheerfully.
“Oh, it was OK,” he replied wearily. “It’s just that I’m so tired.”
“Oh,” I said, a little uncertainly. “Oh, um . . . you want me to leave?”
Papa gave me a tired smile that made me more comfortable, that told me I was “safe.” It made me feel like he wasn’t going to scold me, as he often did when he was tired and I was bothering him or fooling around in any way.
His smile lit up his exhausted face. I smiled too, only a much bigger smile. Well, actually a gigantic toothy grin, as I often did during that “stage in my life,” as Mama called it.
“No,” he said kindly, “of course I don’t want you to leave.”
Secretly I rejoiced. If I was not supposed to go yet, then that probably meant I was going to have a later bedtime tonight. Yay!
There was silence for a while. I’ve always felt uncomfortable when it was quiet, so I opened my mouth and started blabbing away at top speed about nothing in particular – nonsense, actually, like why Winnie the Pooh only wears a short red shirt, and why butterflies fly.
I was saying all of this in the voice of Stitch, the trouble-making little alien from the Disney movie Lilo & Stitch. Papa always loved it when I did that, and he started laughing loudly now.
By the time I had acted out half the movie, voicing out all the characters by myself, Papa was crying tears of mirth.
“Stop . . . stop!” he begged, wiping his streaming eyes. “Oh . . . side-stitch . . . ouch, OUCH!”
I was delighted that I had made my grumpy old Papa laugh so much. “Did you like it?” I asked excitedly.
“Of course I did,” he said. “Did you know that whenever you make me, or Mama, or your brother laugh when we are tired, you make us feel a lot better, and less tired?”
I shook my head, astonished that I could actually do a thing like that.
Papa smiled down at me. “You do.” I treasured those two simple words, and I still hold on to them in my heart.
Amazing, I thought. Just like that! There are a billion people out there thinking BIG, and all I ever did was use a tiny “talent” of mine, as I like to call it. By doing so, I changed the mood of my family, changed the way they looked at things, changed the way they thought of life.
A small act like that, I realised, can actually change the world. So much can happen when we work, but so much more can happen when we work cheerfully.
Just by cheering people up, we can help them care more for each other, help them do their work better, and help make this world a more pleasant place to live in. There would be more love, and that, as everyone should know, is the most important thing we need to have a pleasurable life.
So why not start small? Drop that ugly frown, put on your best smile, go out into the cold, dark world and spread some light, warmth and love to those who need it. You will make a difference – just ask my Papa.
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