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Leaving a Positive Mark: How to Impact Those Around You for the Better

Growing up, we often fail to grasp the full extent of the wisdom our parents impart to us. Reflecting on my childhood, one lesson from my dad continues to resonate profoundly; “Always leave people better than you found them.” It’s more than a mere piece of advice; it’s a guiding principle for fostering meaningful connections and making a positive impact on those around us. In the words of Maya Angelou, “People will forget what you said, People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel.” Here are some actionable steps inspired by this valuable lesson that you can incorporate into your daily life.


Practice Empathy: Walk in Their Shoes

The first step in leaving people better is to cultivate empathy. Cultivating empathy is not just a feel-good concept; it’s a deep practice that can leave a lasting positive impact on our interactions. Empathy is the ability to step outside of our own perspectives and immerse ourselves in the feelings and challenges of others. Before reacting to a situation, take a moment to consider the other person’s perspective. This intentional shift in perspective lays the groundwork for responding with compassion, kindness, and understanding.  

Empathy involves more than acknowledging that someone may be going through a tough time. It’s about actively seeking to understand their feelings and challenges. Ask questions, listen attentively, and put yourself in their position. By doing so, you gain insights that not only inform your response but also demonstrate to the other person that their experiences are valid and valued. 

Choose Your Words Wisely: Spread Positivity

Words are not merely strings of letters; they possess the extraordinary ability to uplift or deflate, to inspire or demoralize. Opt for words that inspire, encourage, and bring joy. A simple compliment, an expression of appreciation, or a kind word can be the catalyst for a significant shift in someone’s day, sparking a chain reaction of positivity that resonates far beyond the initial interaction.  Expressing appreciation acknowledges the efforts and contributions of others, and that fosters a sense of value and belonging.

Conversely, the careless use of words can have detrimental effects and leave a lasting mark on a person’s emotions and self-esteem. It is crucial to recognize the power our words hold and to use them responsibly. Choosing words that radiate kindness not only shapes our immediate social interactions but also contributes to a broader culture of compassion and understanding. 

Be Present: Quality Over Quantity

The art of being present has become a rare and invaluable commodity, but the gift of undivided attention is priceless. Whether you’re catching up with a friend, participating in a meeting, or sharing a moment with a loved one, putting away your phone and giving your full attention speaks volumes. It conveys a sense of respect and importance to the person you’re engaging with which can foster a deeper and more meaningful connection. Being present in the moment makes people feel valued and appreciated.

Actively listening to others is a cornerstone of meaningful communication. When you listen attentively, you show empathy, understanding, and a willingness to connect on a deeper level. Resist the urge to formulate your response while the other person is speaking, and instead absorb the richness of the conversation. This conveys a sense of validation and appreciation for those sharing their thoughts and feelings.

Encourage Growth: Inspire Others to Shine

It’s easy to get caught up in the comparison game, however, what if we shifted our focus from envy to celebration? Instead of harboring envy, celebrate the success and achievements of those around you. By doing so, we not only foster a sense of camaraderie but also create an atmosphere where success is a shared joy. After all, a rising tide lifts all boats. Encourage others to pursue their passions and goals. Your support can be a driving force behind someone’s journey to self-improvement. Be the positive influence you wish to see, and watch as others shine, inspired by your unwavering support.


In essence, embodying the principle of leaving people better involves cultivating a positive mindset and actively contributing to the well-being of those in your life. As my dad wisely pointed out, the impression you leave behind speaks volumes about your character. Let’s strive to make each encounter an opportunity to uplift, inspire, and ultimately, leave a positive mark on the hearts of those we meet.

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