Writer Emily Esfahani Smith, in her TED Talk, told the world that happiness is not the answer to a healthy life, but rather, having meaning to it. So what does it mean to have a meaningful life? According to Smith, having a purpose in life gives it true meaning. If you have already found the reason for waking up every day, great! But, if like most of us, you are struggling to find a reason to live, then let's start small. Small gestures of giving back to the people living around you may be just as fulfilling as starting your own NGO. Any deed, whether big or small, can bring a warm smile on someone's face or make them want to live to see another day.
The first step is as simple as being kind to others. We are so used to criticising people that we rarely appreciate them for all the good that they have. Make it a healthy practice to just smile at a grocery store owner and to say thank you. Perhaps ask your rickshaw puller how his day has been going. He might give you a puzzled look at first, but it will definitely brighten up his day. Tell your teachers that they inspire you. Praise your parents every day and tell your friends how much you appreciate their company. Words are sometimes stronger than any action.
If you have mastered the skill of using your words and kindness, then you can move forward. Your next step can be buying the local kids some chocolate or taking an hour out of your day to teach them basic courtesy and morals at a local NGO, giving your rickshaw puller an extra ten bucks or buying a small present for your domestic helper, assisting your driver in washing your car or leaving a positive feedback about your waiter to the restaurant manager. Maybe you can volunteer to help a neighbourhood child with his math homework, clean the table after dinner or babysit a neighbour's baby to let the mother rest for a few hours. Small actions can have a bigger impact than you may realise.
If you're ready to take it up a notch, then maybe start your own little revolution. No, don't go rioting with slogans; just ask a few neighbours to help you once a week to clean the roads around your neighbourhood. Set an example and soon, people living a few blocks away will be seen doing the same. You could also help raise money for a good cause. For instance, a literature group on Facebook by the name 'Litmosphere' recently raised about a hundred grand for 'LitMama,' a disabled book street vendor, by hosting auctions in the group. Maybe you can raise a little to help a young boy get a chance at a better education, or help an old woman get better treatment.
You can always join NGOs and other organisations dedicated to social services if you want to make a change on a larger scale. But remember, no deed remains unnoticed. You will feel happy when you will be appreciated for your kindness and generosity, but you will feel ecstatic when you see that you, a micro-speck in this vast universe, can help bring light to someone else's universe by just a mere good intention. Life is beautiful when you stop living for yourself and start living to serve others.