Most of what we do has an impact. In fact, it’s hard to imagine any action that doesn’t make a difference in some way in the long or short term.
Maybe, you’re not entirely convinced by this statement. So, let’s consider the act of “doing nothing”. The idea of doing nothing is actually inaccurate from a strictly technical point of view. While you’re supposedly “doing nothing,” you might actually be sitting, lying down, sleeping, talking, eating, drinking, etc. Each of these actions has an impact on your health, happiness, and well-being. Further, they can have an impact on the health, happiness, and well-being of others in more than one way. The first way is if you share or do the actions with others. The second is if the actions keep you from doing something else that might have a more direct impact on others. And the third is the way your attitude, in whatever you are doing, influences those around you.
The bottom line is that any and everything we do has a long-term, short-term, or accumulative impact on ourselves and beyond. The effect is often positive, negative, or a combination of both. If this is true for actions we often qualify as “doing nothing,” imagine how true it is for the things we qualify as doing something. For instance, our job(s), raising a family, physical exercise, recycling, providing someone with assistance, or putting a smile on someone’s face when they need it most.
This quote about making a difference, by William James, is a reminder to live your life as if what you do does make a difference. Imagine the positive change this might have on your day. Imagine how this might inspire and motivate your actions. Furthermore, imagine how this might alter your perspective on whether what you do has significance and value.