If nothing we do matters…

Jennifer D BeggInspiration, Jennifer, Stuff43 Comments

You know how some people have little mottos that they live by? (No? Just me. Okay…) Well, mine comes from an episode of Angel (season 2, episode 17, to be exact). There, I said it. Frankly, it’s a relief to get it out there.

Now before you judge me too harshly, I’ll tell you what that motto is:

“If nothing we do matters then all that matters is what we do.”

Confused? That’s ok, Joss Whedon (genius, god like creature that he is!) lets Angel explain:

Now you could say that this is as cliched as any other quote you see flying around twitter – and it is. However, it’s also completely true.

We’re bombarded by media every day telling us of great disaster and injustice and we feel helpless to do anything about it. No matter how just the cause or convincing the fundraising ask is, it’s difficult to convince people that their donation or act is actually going to make something better.

There are times in life when we’re all faced with our own mortality and limitations. I’ve been there and at the time, to be honest, didn’t really live by my motto and in fact, pretty much decided to check out for a while. Then with small steps I started to realise something. Instead of feeling like I had to take on the world in order to have my life mean something, I decided to find things I could actually have an impact on.

I now spend my time doing things that I love and that I think matter. None of them particularly Earth shattering but definitely world changing to me!

So, in celebration of the little things (or big things) that make a difference, I’d love it if you would share what makes you proud today and why it makes a difference.

123 – GO!

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Jennifer D BeggIf nothing we do matters…

43 Comments on “If nothing we do matters…”

  1. Jennifer D Begg

    In case you’re nervous, here’s mine:

    I think that buying a coffee while stopping for a chat (for “chat” read “skyve”) for The Big Issue guys near college makes a difference (especially when the weather’s crap!)

  2. Scott Downs

    I love it when people share stories, media, articles about people they admire, famous or not, real or fictional. I keep a heroes list and encourage my network colleagues and young people I work with to do the same.Try to share hero stories myself online as often as I can manage. Cheers to you, Jennifer

  3. Martin Keane

    Since my daughter arrived I have scaled back my social media time (I don’t do it at all when she is awake and I’m with her). When I’m with Ru I’m a better person and happier, this feeds into everything I do now (including my online work) and I appreciate my time much more. Nothing matters more.

    1. Jennifer D Begg

      Aw, that’s lovely Martin. I love Social Media (as you know) but what I love most is that it gives me opportunities to interact with new people (real people!). You have to do interesting things to have interesting things to say :)

  4. Fraser Allan

    I have taken a beat from the series ‘Community’ in a similar vein. In the first series, our hero jeff winger takes a ‘blow-off’ class at the community college he attends. A class led by a professor who sets assignments around students ‘seizing the day!’ such as ‘tell ten people you know that you love them’ – now, on a daily basis, i try and make sure i do something that is fun, makes me feel good or lifts my spirits and usually accompany it with ‘DAY SEIZED!’ by way of an exclamation!

    Like you say, its all about changing YOUR world in a small way and if you do that daily, it makes all the difference.

    1. Jennifer D Begg

      I couldn’t agree with you more (I love Community too).

      Also, by making sure you do cool fun stuff, you’re having a positive impact on people around you – job done.

      I have this thing where I try to smile at everyone I walk past (no mean feat in London). I keep a virtual tally in my head of return smiles (this is a 20% day and so on) but as I’m a BIG fan of grumpy people, I win either way :D

  5. Sarah Strong

    Crikey, I’m not very good at giving myself a slap on the back, but I guess I’m quite chuffed that for the last nine years I’ve been helping to organise and run a series of mountain bike races in the London area. All of us are volunteers and it’s quite a significant commitment each year but my summer just wouldn’t be the same without it. It’s great to see familiar faces return year after year and the younger kids get stronger and more passionate about riding as time goes on.

    1. Jennifer D Begg

      Wow, that sounds amazing and such a massive commitment – well done you!

      Often by doing things we’re really passionate about (and that we genuinely really enjoy) we can have a big positive impact on the world and this is a great example, thanks so much for sharing.

  6. Ross W

    I’m mostly with Martin: since having a small person arrive in the family the opportunities to make a difference have decreased significantly. I’m learning to accept that my main role in life right now is to love and support my wife and child. That manifests itself in a whole load of daily sacrifices.

    There is still the odd change to brigheten uo the world though. The other week I was out cycling – collecting something we’d bought second-hand for Isaac – and I saw a guy parked in a car at the side of a busy dual carriageway that my cycle path ran alongside. He’d run out of petrol and as I asked if he was OK he fished a plastic petrol can out of the boot. The nearest petrol was over a mile away. 20 mins each way on foot, but just a few mins on a bike. I offered to go and get him some and he took me up.

    Queuing for petrol on a bike was a bit weird, but I like to think that, not only did I help that guy out, but I also broke down the normally-aggressive barriers between cyclists and drivers for a moment. I was pretty proud of that.

    1. Jennifer D Begg

      That’s such a lovely story Ross, thanks for sharing.

      Its so important to realise that the stuff we don’t actually think twice about doing can actually make a big difference to someone else. I bet that guy was very grateful.

      It’s also interesting what you say about not getting as many opportunities to make a difference, I know exactly what you mean. I can totally imagine my parents feeling like that too and I’m eternally grateful that they always made us feel like we could change the world – that in itself has made a big difference to my world at least.

      1. Martin Keane

        Great stuff Ross – that is amazing of you. I recently offered to help a close friend on their move day (tomorrow). Little things where you can do mean the world to somebody

  7. Fran Swaine (@franswaine)

    Going freelance. It’s a pretty big decision but hopefully it will allow me to work with businesses I really care about, I’ve also given some of my skills/time to a charity that have made a massive difference in my life. It’s nice that I’ve got to a point where I can give them something back.

    1. Jennifer D Begg

      Please tell me you posted this from the bus!?

      I think you’re completely right about the freelance thing, it definitely gives the opportunity to make a more direct difference to organisations you care about. Really well done for taking the leap, you’ll have a great time ;)

  8. Lesley Pinder (@Skipinder)

    I think generally being cheery and having good old fashioned manners makes a real difference. I always say thank you to people you let me past on the train or street (or to cars who are mindful of me when I’m on my bike), I chat with people in shops and say hello to other cyclists and walkers when I’m out on my bike. Sometimes I’m in a rubbish mood, so I’m not quite as jaunty, but I always notice how worse I feel about the world when I let the ‘London mist’ descend and I forget about the people around me.

    1. Jennifer D Begg

      It’s so true. You really never know what kind of day that other person is having and by saying something nice and being a bit cheery you’ve made a difference to them :D (that’s a smily face with your name on it!)

    2. Paul Jenkins

      I totally agree with you Lesley. Being polite to someone and seeing them smile at you is one of life’s small but important pleasures. I always smile at people who are polite to me too. One of the things I’ll miss about commuting are those opportunities to help lone parents with their pushchairs, especially on the rubbish steps at Biggleswade station

      1. Jennifer D Begg

        Aw Paul, that is so cute (and so you!)

        I have no doubt that you’ll be helping non commuters with stuff in no time!

        Thanks for sharing

  9. Alex

    One of my closest friends has inspired me to do a lot of ‘perspective re-framing’ – turning an irksome situation into a lesson learned. It’s helped me a be less hard on myself, celebrate the small things more and be a more supportive partner to my husband. I also think it’s making me a better mum – it forces me to rethink kneejerk reactions to toddler behaviour, and try and put myself in her (hilariously huge) shoes.

    Striking that balance between pushing for bigger and better and failing to appreciate how far we’ve already come is tricky, but it’s very much worth the effort. I feel like every one of us that does this can only make things better for the people around them, and start a knock-on effect of everyone feeling that little bit brighter.

    [It’s a less positive way of thinking about it, but even when there doesn’t appear to be a silver lining I still TRY to deal with things well, with inspiration from The Lion in Winter (so delighted to hear this in The West Wing I actually yelped out loud):

    Geoffrey: “You fool. As if it matters how a man falls down.”
    Richard: “When the fall is all that’s left, it matters a great deal.” ]

    1. Jennifer D Begg

      Ha! Virtual high five for the West Wing reference :)
      Oh the life lessons we learn from good hollywood writing – the Filibuster episode is my favourite.

      It sounds morbid but I do think that it’s important to feel like if I left this world tomorrow, I would leave a smile behind at least.

      Thanks for sharing Alex

  10. Jonathan Davis

    I’ve had a real trip of enjoyment in reading through these comments and the original post too! Seeing a few familiar faces (both in real life and online life) as I scrolled down really left me with the feeling that I wanted to add my own bit to this really good post.

    For me, it comes right down to simple practices (and I have plenty, or so I think) and there are times when I forget them in the rush of the world, and there are times when I’m fully connected and everything flows together. One practice I try to do every night before I close my eyes is to ask myself what I’m grateful for happening in that particular day. It doesn’t always have to be a positive, it could be a challenge you saw through to the end, but it is amazing how much of a better sleep I have by acknowledging the positive in life before the next day begins!

    1. Jennifer D Begg

      Thanks so much for sharing Jonathan – what a great way to end each day!

      I’m going to try that tonight :)

      PS: Really glad you enjoyed the post and comments

      1. Jonathan Davis

        It is so simple, Jennifer! Yet so effective. Really nice to hear that you’ll give it a go. It’s only been a nice, but how did it feel? Did you remember to do it? ;-)

      2. Jennifer D Begg

        I sure did!
        Yesterday was easy because I was so grateful for everyone getting involved with this post! :)

        It’ll be interesting to see how long I can keep it going for…

    2. Ross W

      Most people know now that I have a small child (see my comment above!). The early weeks were pretty tough and it was hard, sometimes to be positive. We ended every day by counting our “gold star moments”: those things where we’d really achieved something. They will sound stupid to anyone who’s not been responsible for looking after a newborn baby – they sound a little stupid to me even now! – but things as simple as:
      – We made it to our local cafe for a coffee
      – My wife survived 2 hours on her own while I did a supermarket shop
      – Isaac slept for 2 hours and we did nothing but sat and watched telly
      When totally sleep-deprived, and with no end in sight…when big achievements are reduced to such small things, it was this little, positive review of each day that really kept us going and made us feel like we were doing OK.

  11. Paul de Gregorio

    Work hard and be nice to people – that Burrell poster sticks with me and most days I have to say it under my breath. Also, let old people off trains and through doors first, takes a nano second, makes me a better person and if just one other person notices and does it to, makes the world a tiny weeny bit of a better place.

  12. Lianne Howard-Dace

    Great post Jennifer!

    For me I think just trying to be generous and hospitable – I don’t have loads of money but I know I’m better off than so many people in the world. It’s nice to be able to share that in small ways; buying someone a drink or baking some cakes to take in to work.

    Also guiding which I’m sure you’ll appreciate! I hope it has a positive impact on the girls lives (like it did mine as a kid.) I get so much out of volunteering as well and being around young people helps you keep a fresh perspective.

    1. Jennifer D Begg

      Working with young people definitely keeps you on your toes!

      I don’t know if I mentioned this to you before but a while back my fellow Guider Penny ran “Random Bakes of Kindness” with our girls. It was really special to get the girls to think of who they would bake for and great to see some of the surprised faces (including mine!).

      Thanks for sharing Lianne :)

      PS: You should follow Penny (@Penjy) she is Guider extraordinaire and has brilliant ideas

  13. Jennifer D Begg
    1. Brenda Cuthbertson
      I’m proud of the fact that even though I have never lost an ounce I’ve managed to keep off, I keep trying! I’m proud of the fact I keep trying to change people’s mind on equal marriage rights, to prove to them its a legal thing, not a reli…gious thing. I’m proud of the fact I try to support family and friends in all ways possible. I’m proud of the fact I have a fabulous family That was really difficult Jennifer. I’ve been sitting here for about half an hour. I find it very easy to pat others on the back but very very difficult to pat myself on the back. You’ll have to think up something easier for a Friday next time x
      Brenda Cuthbertson
    2. Jennifer D Begg
      Well Brenda, you have a lot to be proud of! And just so you know, I’m soooo proud of your campaigning, I tell everyone about it x
      Jennifer D Begg
    3. Lesley Pinder
      Brenda, I’m still thinking about mine! It is hard isn’t it!
      Lesley Pinder
    4. Jennifer D Begg
      ‎Lesley, you do good sh*t all the time!
      Jennifer D Begg
    5. Lesley Pinder
      This kind of shizzle makes me realise how hard on myself I am!
      Lesley Pinder
    6. Jennifer D Begg
      So true – I think we all need a reminder that the little things we do all the time matter and make a difference. True fact :)
      Jennifer D Begg
    7. Ewen James Cameron
      I’m kinda proud that I’ve sat and thought about what I’m “proud of” and can’t think of anything….because I like to think we do what we do because we were brought up to work hard and do the right thing by those that worked harder and did better…..if that makes sense?
      Ewen James Cameron
    8. Jennifer D Begg
      That totally makes sense Ewen, I know what you mean. The real thing is though, not just what are you proud of but realising that some of the little things you do make a difference. When mum died I genuinely thought there was no point to lif…e and that no one could have an impact on anything. It took me a while to be able to stand back and realise that actually that didn’t really matter anyway, who cares if you have a big impact on the world – as long as you try to do little things that make life better, that’s just fine.
  14. Jennifer D Begg
    Jennifer D Begg
  15. Ewen James Cameron
    In that case, I like to feel proud that the coaching I gave over the past umpteen winters has (hopefully) made the kids better people as well as snowboarders…and never waivering from the “Rule of Mum”…if it’s not good enough for your Mum then it’s not good enough for anyone else.
    Ewen James Cameron
  16. Jennifer D Begg
    Hahahaha! That is the best rule ever. When I cleaned my room my mum always asked “is it up to my satisfaction” before coming to check it. I always had to go back a couple of times just to make sure ;)
    Jennifer D Begg
  17. Ewen James Cameron
    I have to say I use it every day without fail
    Ewen James Cameron
  18. Jennifer D Begg
    Ach, yer a good loon Ewen ;)
    Jennifer D Begg
  19. Ewen James Cameron
    Just a thought, proud to say I’m associated with everyone that got this message from you.
    Ewen James Cameron
  20. Emma Rothwell
    Oh me, this is hard for a Friday night (particularly after ne of those weeks where it feels like nothing you do is good enough!). However, I guess I’m proud of the little things I say or do through work which have an impact on a kid, whethe…r by supporting them to see the positives in their life, or through training teachers to look for those positives and focus on the cans, rather than the cannots….. I’m proud of the things I do to try to make other people feel special and loved, and I guess I’m proud of the fact that I’ve managed to make and keep fabulous friends over the years. Ah, now I feel slightly less like drinking the bottle of wine now!!
  21. Jennifer D Begg
    Emma Rothwell
  22. Jennifer D Begg
    Ha! well that’s probably a good thing Emma – step away from the Gin! I think that’s quite a lot to be proud of Mrs, isn’t it awesome that what you do every day for your job makes such a huge difference to children’s lives – bravo *tips hat and claps* xxx
    Jennifer D Begg
  23. Emma Rothwell
    Haha, I didn’t say I make a difference every day! Maybe nice a month if I’m lucky! But I try every day! I’ve stepped toward the Galaxy instead of the wine!
    Emma Rothwell
  24. Emma Rothwell
    Oops, *once* a month! I promise I’ve not been on the gin!
    Emma Rothwell
  25. Scotty Taylor
    Mmmmm, ok so I’ve had a food few hours of mulling this over and my gosh it ain’t easy! So here goes, I’m proud of the fact that I wake up every day next to a beautiful woman and try my hardest to make her smile every day. I’m proud I the fa…ct that I have friends that have stuck with me over the past twenty years and still ‘like’ the odd fart status on Facebook just because that is who I am! And I am also proud of the fact that I try to talk to people everyday and say ‘hello, how are you?’ and actually mean it. Making people smile makes me proud xSee more
    Scotty Taylor
  26. Susan Dunn
    Well, I’m not proud to say I’ve drawn a blank on this one! I could write a book on other people I’m proud of and the things they’ve done (and you’d definitely be among them!) but as for me, the only and best thing I’ve ever done that I’m proud of is to give birth to my beautiful babies. For me it doesn’t get better than that!
    Susan Dunn
  27. Scotty Taylor
    Having read all the past posts it’s apparent that we all have on e thing in common that makes us all proud…….we all have the ability to change the world even with the smallest things that we do every day. I’m proud to be included in this group of people with the same values as myself x
  28. Jennifer D Begg
    Scotty Taylor
  29. Jana Skene
    I am proud that I have kept up running for a month now!
    Jana Skene
  30. Jennifer D Begg
    ‎Jana – I am very proud of you for keeping on running too *sings*
    Jennifer D Begg
  31. Jennifer D Begg
    Aw Scotty, happy to share your values kiddo ;) x
    Jennifer D Begg
  32. Jennifer D Begg
    ‎Susan, Susan, Susan *shakes head at you* You have done many things you can be very proud of. Raising your children is obviously one of them. However, you also spent many years with me and your dad making a difference to the kids involved with gymnastics, you’ve been great at helping us fundraise so consider yourself one of the many who’ve given children an education and I know that you are a very kind and supportive friend. See – many things that make a difference *pushes glasses up nose teacher style* :) xx
    Jennifer D Begg
    1. Jennifer D Begg

      Ha! I was just saying that to Simon yesterday. I might change the theme slightly but I think a bit of “Friday Feelgood Feedback” would do us all some good :)

      1. Scott Downs

        Wonderful. I’d be particularly interested in hearing stories about people we admire. Who are your heroes? (I ask this question often in other networks I am part of….). People we honour don’t have to be famous at all, in fact, the most touching stories are often about otherwise anonymous people who have made great gifts to others that most people don’t know anything about….

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