(Information of this essay comes from the following sources: sermon “One Person Can Make A Difference” by Dean Morgan printed on the website sermoncentral.com, pages from the websites biographyonline.net, Wikipedia.org, the book “Letting God” by A. Philip Parham)
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In our search for meaning, we question whether or not we each can make a difference? We see successful stories thinking that those things happened by a group of people, not by just one individual.
But, in reality, many things all around us were the brain child of one individual. Or they were started by one and, eventually, “snowballed” involving others.
As President John F. Kennedy once said: “It is the greatest of all mistakes to do nothing because you can only do little. Do what you can! One person can make a difference and every person should try.”
Here’s a short list of items where one person made that difference!!
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If you think your vote doesn’t count, think again:
In 1654, one vote gave Oliver Cromwell control of England;
In 1649, one vote caused Charles 1 of England to be executed;
In 1776, one vote gave America the English language instead of German;
In 1839, one vote elected Marcus Morton governor of Massachusetts;
In 1845, one vote brought Texas into the union;
In 1868, one vote saved President Andrew Johnson from impeachment;
In 1875, one vote changed France from a monarchy to a republic;
In 1876, one vote gave Rutherford B. Hayes the United States presidency;
In 1923, one vote gave Adolph Hitler control of the Nazi party;
In 1941, one vote saved the selective Service System just 12 weeks before Pearl Harbor!
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Some historical people who made a difference:
Abraham Lincoln overcame many setbacks to become the most influential American president. He helped bring about the abolishment of slavery.
Jesus Christ taught a message of love, forgiveness and faith. After his crucifixation, his message inspired millions around the world.
Marie Curie. Her discoveries with radiation helped advance medical science. She was awarded 2 Nobel Peace Prizes – one for chemistry and one for physics.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for his non violent civil rights movement. Inspired millions of people, black and white, to aspire for a more equal society.
Leonardo da Vinci made great advances in anatomy, astronomy, physics, science and others. Painted the most iconic picture in history –The Mona Lisa.
Helen Keller, both deaf and blind, learned to read and write and became a champion of social issues, helping to improve the welfare of deaf people.
Rosa Parks, a fighter for civil rights, defied the law when, in the 1950’s, she refused to give up her seat in the colored section on a bus to a white passenger after the white section was filled.
Mother Teresa lived a life of poverty to try to better the conditions of others.
Martin Luther was the most influential figure in the reformation of the sixteenth century. He challenged the excesses of the Catholic Church leading to the protestant movement, forcing the Catholic Church to reinvigorate itself.
St. Francis of Assisi founded new order committed to essence of Christian gospels. Pope Francis took his name from him.
Jesse Owens, who won 4 gold medals at Hitler’s 1936 Olympics in Berlin, helped to puncture the Nazi ideology of Aryan Supremacy.
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If you think that one person cannot make a difference, think about how poor we would be if these creative people hadn’t existed?
Just a few names:
Writers like William Shakespeare – the King of English literature, Agatha Christie, Stephen King, C.S. Lewis, Charles Dickens, Neil Simon.
Directors Alfred Hitchcock, Stephen Spielberg, Clint Eastwood, John Ford
Composers like Ludwig Van Beethoven, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Johann Sebastian Bach and modern day composers like Burt Bacharach, Henry Mancini, Brian Wilson of “The Beach Boys”
Artists like Vincent Van Gogh, Picasso, Michelangelo
Inventors and their inventions: Thomas Edison (light bulb), Alexander Graham Bell (telephone), James Naismith (basketball), Louis Braille (Braille writing system), Samuel Morse (telegraph), John Harvey Kellogg (cornflake breakfasts), John Pemberton (Coca Cola)
Imagine a world without these peoples’ writings, movies, art or their inventions.
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They turned a tragedy into something positive:
Viktor Frankl, holocaust survivor, wrote the best seller “Man’s Search For Meaning”
Nelson Mandela campaigned for justice and freedom in his South Africa. He healed the wounds of Apartheid after more than 20 years in jail
Anne Frank, a teenage girl, a victim of the Nazi Holocaust, became a symbol of how ordinary people get caught up in man’s inhumanity. But despite the most testing of conditions, she retained an optimistic spirit.
And the countless charities and social causes, started by one person, that were developed because of tragedies.
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If you think you have to be famous to make a difference, think again:
St. Therese Lisieux, a Carmelite nun, unknown to the world. After her death at 24, her writings had a profound effect. She taught do the smallest acts with love.
Sophie Scholl (1921- 1943) a German student who took part in the non violent resistance to Hitler and the Nazi party. She was later executed for treason and became an important symbol of German resistance to Hitler.
Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl who defied threats of the Taliban to campaign for the right to education. She survived being shot in the head by the Taliban, and has become a global advocate for human rights, women rights and the right to education.
The woman who couldn’t afford the $5 service charge. I received an e-mail about a young woman who was about to be charged an extra $5 by the Bank of America every time she used her debit card. Since she was unable to afford the fee, she started a petition. She got 20,000 signatures. The bank heard about this and did not charge her the extra $5 or to the other customers.
I`m sure there are many individuals who legally fought back about some unfairness, some injustice. In many cases, it started with one, and, then, it “snowballed“ into something greater.
Finally, the church with no electricity. There’s a church is Switzerland with no electricity. Parishioners and clergy light candles to light the church for their evening service. The more people that show up, the greater the brightness.
Ken works as a security guard. He’s a struggling writer of sketch comedy and pieces on spiritual issues. He wants to set up a non- profit comedy troupe for the community, entertaining in hospitals, drop-in centres, etc. He has established a troupe for psychiatric and physically-challenged communities to participate in. He is also interested in the plight of psychiatric patients and other poverty-related issues. Ken can be reached at [email protected] This article cannot be re-published without permission.
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50 Small Ways to Help Make the World a Better Place
Have you ever wondered how you can make the world a better place? Or stressed over not being able to make ENOUGH of a difference. Well, here’s a reminder that it’s the small things that count. And that your life matters.
Once upon a time I wanted to change the world. But truth was until I took care of myself I was no good to anyone. The world even.
I was so eager make a difference, to help others, to make people happy, I just felt like I just wasn’t doing enough. Constantly feeling inadequate and comparing myself to all the amazing change makers I was surrounded by (and they were and still are INCREDIBLE), I exhausted myself in comparisons and feelings of inadequacy and FOMO. Truth is I was a huge people pleaser , always putting others before myself and my family. But that’s a story for another day …
And then I realised the mistake I’d been making.
No disrespect to the big thinkers, thought leaders and game changers, but personally I was aiming too big. I’d missed the point completely.
Baby steps. Small changes. Daily moments of kindness. LITTLE things. That’s what mattered.
When I started focussing on myself. On being the most authentic and real person I could be. On being someone who was healthy (both physically and mentally), who was doing what she loved with people she loved, and who wasn’t overdoing things by people pleasing and trying to be something she wasn’t – that was when I realised I could make a difference in the world in my own way.
There’s so much shit going on in the world, we can’t make everything better on our own.
And most of us simply don’t have the money, connections or resources to do so. Now there’s a depressing thought. But it needn’t be, because in our own way, we can help to make the world a better place. AND it doesn’t have to cost an airfare to a 3rd world country, a direct debit a month, or even an arm, a leg or a kidney.
Here’s 50 Small Ways You Can Help Make the World a Better Place
Give an elderly person some of your time. Sit, talk, listen, hold their hand, make eye contact, and give them a hug.
- Volunteer for a cause
- Compliment someone on how they look, be it how happy they seem, how bright-eyed they our, how awesome their outfit is…
- Give an elderly person some of your time. Sit, talk, listen, hold their hand, make eye contact, and give them a hug
- Allow someone else their time to shine – if you’ve got your eye on a leadership or managerial position take note of this one especially. If you don’t, still do it. I love seeing people SHINE!
- Recycle – Sheran Dempster
- Cook someone a hearty meal, either in person or leave it on their door step
- Travel respectfully
- Give someone a hug – try to maintain the connection for 12 seconds. That makes for an awesome hug
- Declutter and donate
- Have everyone give their co workers at lest one compliment a day – @just_anxious
- Be kind to yourself, and learn to look after and love yourself. Until you love yourself you’re no good to anyone. Learn to practice self-care – here’s 64 simple ideas to help and inspire you to care for yourself first
- Make eye contact with others
- Respect others at all times, no matter who they are. This includes homeless people, employees, cleaners the people who make your coffee in the morning
- Simply smile and say hello to everyone you pass on the street – Lucy Patterson
- Treat everyone the way you would like to be treated. All the time – @kidatheart63
- Secretly send someone money in an envelope when they are in need. Someone did this for me last year when I was going through a hard time. You naughty someone. Thank you
- Investigate where things you buy are actually made and try to buy things from companies who produce ethically
- Put your phone away and focus on what or who is in front of you
- Everyone should learn to say ‘thank you’ for every small act of kindness they receive, and say it like they mean it – Corinne Rodrigues
- Tell someone they did a good job. Better yet, tell their boss
- Don’t listen to, or participate in, gossip (bloody hard to do…but it’s good for the soul and makes life so much more simpler!)
- Don’t buy trashy magazines or click on click-bait headlines (I KNOW it’s a challenge!)
- Show someone how to do something. Pass on your knowledge!
- Give gifts without the expectation of anything in return
- Do what you love. That alone will inspire others
- Share your own story of survival (because we’ve all fought our own battles that will strike a chord with someone else in the world). Here’s part of mine . Jane says “there is always someone worse off than you. Be grateful”
- Don’t litter
- If someone makes a mistake, stuffs up, gives you the wrong coffee, forgets to add sauce to your hot dog, don’t chide them. Tell them its ok. Everyone makes mistakes
- Spend uninterrupted time with a child. Give them your 100% focus
- Read and tell positive stories, stories of hope and love – @nabanita21
- Donate blood or plasma
- Create art. Paint, sculpt, write a poem, produce a beautiful song. Share it with the world… or just one special person.
- Pay it forward – Suzannah Taylor
- Send a letter, email, tweet or message out of the blue
- Listen without passing judgement
- Smiles, pleases and thank you’s 🙂 – @normal_ness . Express gratitude often. Personally, I like to make gratitude a habit !
- Please pick up your dog poop (my personal pet peeve!)
- Life is short. Look after your family and close friends, those you love, and to cap it all off, be more considerate to others, whether you know them or not – D (my husband)
- Decrease your use of plastic
- Give up your seat to someone on a bus, train, or when waiting for something
- Drive intelligently. It’s not a race. And put away your phone. You don’t need it when you drive – Denis Defontaine
- Adopt a rescue pet
- Don’t judge others, especially by what you do and don’t see on Facebook. You have no idea what is really going on in someone’s life until you have walked a day in the life of their shoes
- Sprinkle kindness around like it’s fairy dust. Random acts are the best 🙂
- Give your pet your full attention. After all, they give you their life, give them a chunk of yours
- Mentor or coach someone for free
- Ask someone how they are, mean it, and wait for AND listen to their response
- Focus on the good
- State things constructively so we problem-solve and not form habits of avoidance/depression. i.e. “don’t run inside = please walk inside, run outside”, “Don’t make a mess = let’s take care of the dinner table”, “Don’t forget = please remember” – Kat Yew
- Educate yourself. Learn about other cultures, faiths, ideas, languages, people, history…
Just think about it – if we all did one small thing, even if it was only every now and then, imagine the impact we could have on the world!
Share your own story of survival (because we’ve all fought our own battles that will strike a chord with someone else in the world).
*A huge thank you to my followers who contributed some awesome ideas on how they would make the world a better place in a small way
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About Janine Ripper
A mentor and storyteller who believes in using blogging and social media to do good. A mental health advocate who shares her personal story of depression, anxiety, burn out and self-care to inspire others.
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- Why Study Psychology
Why I Study Psychology (10 Essays)
Why I Study Psychology is a collection of 10 student essays. As part of a national essay competition, current and future psychology students were asked to explain their study motivation.
Each student describes in 250 words or less (i) why I chose psychology as a major and (ii) how I’m motivated to succeed at psychology studies.
The best, most inspiring essays from the Study Hard Challenge 2017 are published here. As you’ll see, psychology students are often motivated by personal experiences and a wish for healthier, happier communities.
The essays demonstrate the value from having a vision for your career – whether it’s detailed or “big picture” – before you start a psychology degree. Having a long-term goal in mind offers a reliable source of study motivation.
Best Psychology Short Essays
We all know that there will almost always be something to do that sounds much more appealing than our studies, so why do we study if there is something better? Motivation, that’s why. Everyone has their own motivating factor that keeps them in line with studying. Mine is pretty general and that is my future.
I have dreams of becoming a psychologist and helping people throughout my life. I also have a huge passion for American Sign Language. I plan to merge these two goals into one for my future career. I don’t want to be just any psychologist, I want to be a psychologist that is open to Deaf people and hearing people alike. I want Deaf people to feel comfortable coming to me without the need of a third person interpreter who is usually a stranger. Many Deaf people feel uncomfortable visiting a psychologist because of the need for a third person. I plan to make a step towards breaking that barrier by being able to signor speak with any patient who comes to me.
With all these huge goals I know that I have to be very on top of studies and make sure I continue to stay on track and do my best. All of these reasons put together make up my ideal future and therefore my motivation to study.
~ Hannah Reis, Palomar College
2. My Dream
We live in a world filled with hurt and suffering, and a place that is not equal for all. My dream is to leverage my unique set of skills, abilities, privileges, resources, and knowledge in a way that increases equality and privilege for all (not just people with white skin). I am pursuing a degree in Industrial and Organizational Psychology which combines psychology and business .
I feel most alive when I am volunteering with my family at The Christian Children’s Home of Ohio (CCHO) which is a non-profit orphanage for children. I love working with the children there, and it hurts my heart when I see them being forced to leave once they are eighteen without any further aid or support. Due to this fact, I have decided that after I get several years of work experience applying psychology principles to the business world, I want to start my own non-profit organization that aids young adults who grew up in foster care or orphanages. Once they have turned eighteen the government will no longer provide very much aid to them; I want to supply them with the additional skills and services that they need to make it in the real world, and give them the emotional support that they may not have.
One of the main services I want to provide them is taking them to do mission work because the best way to grow as a person and gain perspective is through service and travel. When college gets hard, I hold on tight to this dream because I know my studies will help me achieve this dream.
~ Alyssa Powers, The University of Akron
3. A Catalyst for Change
The incredible transformation I have experienced in my own life from the power of the therapeutic relationship motivates me to immerse myself in my studies and move closer towards my goal of becoming a psychologist. Recognizing how the quality of my own life has been profoundly enhanced by self-reflection, the invaluable lesson of how to learn from suffering, and coming to a deeper understanding of who I am, encourages me to try and be a catalyst for this kind of change in other’s lives. I’m motivated to empower people to feel confident enough in who they are that they don’t feel the need to bring others down.
When life as a student feels exceptionally challenging, I remind myself of the impact that the work I wish to practice has on people’s lives and those around them. I strongly believe large scale change happens on the individual level first, and if we want to see a world where we value the earth and all the people living on it, we have to do the work with ourselves first. I want to help people in their transformation towards becoming more unconditionally loving, tolerant, and compassionate people. I think when people are more comfortable with, and accepting of, who they are, they are consequently kinder and more loving towards those around them. Encouraging this kind of growth first on an individual level, and ultimately on a global level, motivates me to not only get through, but thrive within my program.
~ Hannah Freund, California Institute of Integral Studies
4. Reshaping Mental Health
People who are given psychiatric diagnoses experience some of the worst prejudice and discrimination. They are more likely to be the victims of violence, have a harder time securing jobs and housing, and constantly come face-to-face with the harmful stereotypes that state that these individuals are violent and unpredictable. As such, much research needs to be done to understand the cause of such distress, as well as to develop effective interventions and achieve healthy minds .
Our current mental health paradigm positions mental distress as biological in origin and best treated with medical interventions. However this paradigm has conversely led to an increase in stigma and an increase in the number of people on disability for mental health related reasons. I was one of the fortunate few who was able to pursue a college degree despite being given a severe diagnosis and a hopeless prognosis. However, I know that much of my success has been due to luck and privilege, and the opportunities that I have been afforded are an exception, not a rule. I am striving to change that.
It is my hope that, through increased research and advocacy, society can come to understand that extreme distress is often a message about something that is wrong in a person’s world, and as such, is profoundly meaningful and can be understood. Furthermore, by understanding the psychosocial origins of distress – trauma, poverty, inequality, etc. – we can refocus upstream and create policies that protect against these stressors in the first place.
~ name withheld, Mount Holyoke College
5. C’s Get Degrees
It is said that “C’s get degrees”, but that isn’t enough for me. C’s show an average amount of work, an average amount of time, an average amount of effort. “Average” is not something that I want to be known as. I want to be known as the girl who kept moving forward, went above and beyond, and never looked back. My driving force is making my family proud and reaching my ultimate goal—becoming a school psychologist.
I am the very first in my family to attend college. Every time the topic of school or my future is mentioned, I can see on their faces that they are overwhelmed with pride. When I received my Associate’s degree, seeing my grandpa cry made me realize how special my academic journey is to them. They have given up so much and have supported me in every way, making them proud is the very least I could do in return.
Becoming a school psychologist has been my dream career since I was in middle school. The thought of being able to connect and help a child grow both academically and socially is the greatest reward I could ever receive. Every time I am procrastinating typing a paper, not studying when I know I should have, or wanting to give up on a difficult problem, I think about my end goal. Making a difference to even just one child with make all of school worth it.
~ Haleigh Cordeiro, California Polytechnic State University
6. Find Your Unconscious
Psychologists have discovered reasons, stages, and correlations among our biopsychosocial make-up. Over the centuries, they have managed to explain why humans experience what occurs in everyday life. They provide answers when we have questions about ourselves; it is for this reason that I strive to major in psychology.
I believe that I can make people in my environment, as well as myself, healthier by providing some sense of clarity whenever life situations become foggy. My dream is to someday become a successful industrial-psychologist. Why not a clinical psychologist? Working one-on-one with individuals who are struggling would definitely bring me pleasure. However, I believe that I would have a greater impact within my society by helping larger groups. This dream of mine to become an industrial-psychologist would allow me to make the environment of common day people the most comfortable and enjoyable one.
Through the study of psychology, I will be able to know what qualities are the most necessary to enrich the daily lives of people and ensure that I apply them to my work. What drives me? The fact that I have seen psychologists help my family make sense of one of the most difficult things that we have gone through. Psychologists helped my sister facing anorexia nervosa deal with her disorder and helped my family become a strong support system to aid my sister’s recuperation. I want to know that I can help other people, psychology will open the doors to this dream of mine.
~ Iridian, Cal State University of Long Beach
7. My Dream
Over 22 million children in the United States do not live with their biological mother and father and reside with their grandparents. This means that 3 percent of children living in America face the same situation as me. My father and mother were teenagers when they had me, so raising a baby girl was a difficult task for them. Neither of my parents went to college either, so having me took a toll on their lives. For the both of them, college was an opportunity to better their education and be successful, but with me, that would have been harder for them. Living with my grandparents was the best option for me.
I am currently experiencing teenage life and I can understand why raising a child, when you are only a child yourself, is a daunting responsibility. I commend my parents because they choose to provide a better life for me. They wanted to prevent me from facing adversity, they shielded me from their struggles. When I enter college, my goal is not just to pass my classes, it is to make something of myself. I know my parents would want that for me.
My dream is to work up to my doctorate and become a psychiatrist, fulfilling every opportunity and experience that comes my way. Psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung once said “I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become”, and through my hardship, I choose to overcome and prepare for my destiny.
~ Nina Grizzle
8. Art Therapy
My love for psychology began my junior year when I took the AP course. What was supposed to be a schedule-filling elective credit accidentally grew into a genuine fascination. I found myself going above and beyond the curriculum purely out of curiosity. My interest in what we were discussing in class every day would often send me down long, thought-provoking paths that motivated me to hunt down explanations to the answers of questions I didn’t know I had. But once I had the answers, they seemed to be demanding further explanation, and I was always more than happy to oblige.
With my future education in this field, I hope to further develop new methods of art therapy that will aid those suffering from different mental disorders and cognitive declines. I feel that experimenting with the effects that art has on people’s brain chemistry will open up a new type of therapy that can be clinically prescribed. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, approximately 43.8 million adults in the United States suffer from mental illnesses. This new form of therapy could possibly improve the mental state of the millions of people impacted while inspiring the creation of art.
~ Taylor Himes, University of Texas San Antonio
9. If You Put Your Mind To It
For as long as I can remember, I knew that I wanted to make a difference in the world. I knew that the first step was to attend an accredited university , and that university happens to be Michigan State. I went into college with the dream of becoming a doctor, however, I had a change of heart.
At the beginning of my freshmen year, the unthinkable happened. My dad committed suicide. My world came crashing down. It was a complete shock. My dad always kept all his feelings masked. I never knew what he was going through, and everyday I regret not paying closer attention. Not a day goes by where I don’t think about him. If only I had known. I could’ve done something. That experience then motivated me to change my major to psychology.
I always wanted to make a difference, and now I know just how I am going to be able to accomplish that dream. I want to help people who are going through what my dad endured. I want to be there for them, to help them overcome their inner demons. I want to let them know that their lives are worth living. Losing a family member to suicide is one of the most detrimental events that anyone can ever endure, and if I can one day prevent someone from experiencing that, then I would have accomplished my goal; I will make a difference.
~ Kayla Harper, Michigan State University
10. Motivated by God to Help Others
I’ve heard from so many different people how difficult college can be. Late nights, big tests, difficult and early classes, that doesn’t even sound like fun. The only thing that keeps me moving towards college is the idea of being able to help other people when I graduate.
In December of 2016 I travelled halfway around the world to the Philippines. While I was there I met 15 wonderful children with horrible backgrounds. The love these children missed out on for so many years is heartbreaking. My future goal is to study Psychology and Religion at Liberty University .
The dream that keeps me motivated to go back to school is the idea that I could help so many people, not just children, but anyone who needs someone willing to listen and talk about their problems. People need more people to care and who want to listen. If people would feel the love that God made for them this world would be a much better place.
~ Trinity Rake, Liberty University