True to our US culture, many business and personal development authors, gurus, and other self-proclaimed thought leaders stand on a platform and try to convince us to “think big” and not to settle for “playing small.” “Reach thousands,” they say, “Have a huge impact.” And often that is accompanied by, “And make a six or seven figure income while doing it!”

Well, that’s all fine and good, and a sincere “Bravo!” to those who aspire to larger-than-life goals. Really. I am eternally grateful to people like Cecile Richards, Hillary Clinton, and President Obama. But my message today is about something else. It’s about attending to the hurt, the pain, the struggles and even the beauty that is right in front of us. We can bring love and kindness into our own little corner of the world. Yes. That’s right. I’m saying it’s OK to play small.

I write this on the last day of 2016, a year that has been chock o’ block full of unimaginable heartache, loss, and catastrophic events all around the world. The darkness has not lifted yet and we don’t know when it will. We will likely have at least another four years of outrageous and unpredictable behaviour and the consequences that ensue. My fervent hope is that no more lives are lost and that we find a way to live in peace. Sadly, I am not terribly optimistic about this happening on a global scale. But, maybe it can happen right here in my own home, my own neighbourhood, maybe even my own little town.

Acting with love and kindness, responding appropriately to challenging situations, and treating all human beings with respect is something we can all commit to in the coming year. Every one of us can have an impact without being on the national stage. Each of us can make some small, tiny piece of the world a haven of love and acceptance. We have the power, the ability and, yes, even the responsibility, to do all we can for ourselves and for those closest to us.

I invite you to give it a try. Play small. Bring your partner a cup of coffee in bed. Deliver your elderly neighbour’s newspaper directly to the front door. Play a board game with your children. Tell someone how much you love them. Forgive yourself for whatever transgressions, real or imagined, are causing you to feel badly about yourself. And yes, if there is an opportunity to make a difference on a larger scale, that’s pretty awesome, too. But please don’t allow yourself to be paralyzed by the magnitude of what we are facing right now. If the bigger picture overwhelms you, narrow your focus to what’s right in front of you. Call me a Pollyanna if you like, but I believe that our small, intimate acts can have a powerful and exponential impact. And to 2016? Peace out.

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