I am a fan of the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” (1946 produced by Frank Capra, starring James Stewart). We watch it as a family every Christmas (if you prefer to read, it’s based on the short story The Greatest Gift, written by Philip Van Doren Stern in 1939). The movie’s premise is based on a man who does his best, has dreams he’s never been able to realize, is having a really bad time at work, and begins to believe he is of no value to this world; contemplating ending his own life. An angel, (a comedic one at that, lest this whole thing get too heavy for holiday consumption) comes to show him how he has made an enormous, and unknowing, difference in the lives of others, and how the world would have been a much darker place had he never been born.
"How does your commitment to your values make the word a better place?"
What would this world have been like without your special self? You bring something unique into this world simply by being here. What is it? How does your smile light up a room (or a bad day for a perfect stranger)? How does your commitment to your values make the world a better place (yes, there is something you do regularly that makes the world a better place, listen to your angel on this :-)? It would be nice to have the larger-than-life examples seen in the movie, but they aren’t necessary – you don’t have to have saved a life to be special (you are not in Hollywood after all).
"What are the small, everyday acts you do (without even thinking about them) that make a difference to others..."
We all make unknowing contributions to others. A kind word, a well-placed compliment. A belief in someone’s abilities (when they were unsure of them themselves). What are the small, everyday acts you do (without even thinking about them) that make a difference to others, a difference they may not be able to put their finger on, but that they would miss if you were not in their lives? What is it about your values and commitments that contributes to things larger than yourself? Things that will stand well beyond your direct contributions, playing a simple, but tangible part in the lives of others? As parents we bring life into this world; as caregivers, we nurture life (young and old) – these are no small acts.
You are a wonderful life."
You make a difference and you are enough. There are many things to point to that you may wish to do better or more consistently; it is the easiest thing in the world to find flaws and lack (a convenient way out of the vulnerability that arises when you are asked to own your gifts). This is not about those things; this is about the other things, the blessing you are, the things that make a difference because your precious life is here with us today.
You are a gift, open up and be present to the difference you make. You are a wonderful life.