There’s a story that one day a boy was walking along the seashore. A lot of starfish were being washed up by the waves. They were slowly dying because they were being exposed to the air. He started picking up the starfish one by one and flinging them back into the ocean. A man comes walking by and he sees the little boy doing this. He says “Look at all these other starfish. You’re not helping them at all. You’re not making a difference in their lives.” The little boy pointed toward the one he just threw back and said “I just made a difference in that one’s life.”
Oprah Winfrey says “What we focus on expands”. It is very hard to be a compassionate or empathetic person. We tend to notice all the people we weren’t able to help. And while it is important to acknowledge loss, it is also important to not focus on just the bad. We have to open ourselves up and intentionally point ourselves towards that which we are doing which is helpful.
We can’t save them all. We can’t help them all. But we are just one part of a huge ocean of people who are helping. We are not alone. We can’t all be Mother Teresa. But remember that she didn’t do it alone either. She had hundreds of nuns working with her. Each one of them helped who she was given to help that day. Each one of them did what she could to make that person’s life better. Together they were able to make a difference.
If we focus on what we can’t do or who we haven’t saved, then we lose energy. If we can help one person, it makes a difference in that person’s life. The worst thing is to do nothing, out of fear of not doing enough.
Help who you can. Leave the rest for others to help. That gives them the joy of helping. By leaving something for others to do, you’ve actually given them a gift. Each of us wants to feel needed. A lot of people feel needed by helping others. When you do it all, you are taking away someone’s task. So you are actually doing a good deed by not doing it all.