“An old man was walking on the beach one morning after a storm. In the distance he could see someone moving like a dancer. As he came closer, he saw that it was a young woman picking up starfish and gently throwing them into the ocean. “Young lady, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?” The sun is up, and the tide is going out, and if I do not throw them in they will die,” she said. “But young lady, do you not realise there are many miles of beach and thousands of starfish? You cannot possibly make a difference.” The young woman listened politely, then bent down, picked up another starfish and threw it into the sea. “It made a difference for that one.” Adapted from the original by Loren Eiseley.

It’s true, nobody can change the world single-handedly, but by making small changes in our own lives, and encouraging our friends to do the same, we can absolutely start to shift the odds, and inspire wonder, beauty, and compassion in the world. Try practising these nine small moves and see if you too can start to save some starfishes.

  1. Say thank you.
    Say it often, and sincerely. If possible say it in writing, or an email – something that is recorded has more depth and value.
  2. Pay it forward.
    In the movie a young boy is asked by his teacher to think of an idea to change the world and he came up with the idea of paying it forward: you do a big favour for three different people and tell each of them not to pay you back, but to pay it forward to three other people who, in turn, each pay it forward to three more.
  3. Look people in the eye.
    We need eye contact, and lots of it, because it shows attention, and respect and we just LOVE it when we feel listened to and respected.
  4. Buy Fair-Trade Goods.
    Fair trade guarantees farmers a fair price for their products. In addition, it helps to eradicate unethical practices such as slave labour and poor working conditions. The fair trade movement focuses on products that are typically exported from developing countries, such as handicrafts, coffee, chocolate, flowers, tea, bananas, and honey
  5. Leave Something Good Behind. Make it a habit to leave something good behind.
    – If you have finished your magazine or newspaper, leave it behind for someone else to read.
    – If you stop by a workmates desk or office and they’re not there, leave them a note wishing them a good day.
    – When you eat at a restaurant, leave a generous tip.
  6. Show Kindness. It’s simple to show kindness to others:
    – Hold the door open for someone.
    – If the person standing behind you in line at the supermarket only has a few items, let them cut ahead of you.
    – Give someone an honest compliment.
    Kindness has a ripple effect. It’s bound to come back to you.
  7. Pick Up Rubbish.
    Pick up rubbish at a local park, or in the street when you see it. You’ll be improving the area around you, not just for your enjoyment, but for the enjoyment of everyone.
  8. Help An Elderly Person.
    Little things like mowing their lawn, watering their garden, or getting some groceries could make all the difference in their day. One way to find out if your elderly neighbour needs help is to just drop by for a casual visit and listen to them. It’s very likely that you’ll pick up on something that they need done. Then, volunteer to do it.
  9. Be There for a Child.
    Build at least one comfortable, ongoing, caring relationship with a child. Listen to them when they need to talk. Be a positive role model.

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