Dear Next Generation: ‘Look for simple interactions where you can create a wonderful memory for someone’

May 25, 2021 Updated: May 25, 2021

You can make a positive difference to people every day. Look for simple interactions where you can create a wonderful memory for someone.

When a school year or semester is over, take 30 seconds to thank your favorite teacher for their work. When you leave a coffee shop, take 10 seconds to thank a barista who has made a great latte or given excellent service. When someone makes the stupidest driving decision ever, disrupting your drive, smile, shrug your shoulders, and wave (five fingers). If you read something you liked, or learned from, write or email the person who wrote it a thank you.

Over the decades, I’ve seen neighbors working on big yard projects. I will pull over, roll down the window, and say: “Wow, you’re doing a lot of work, but it’s paying off. It really looks fantastic.” The smile you receive will light up your day.

Now that I am older and have a few more pennies, I will give money or gifts to people at times. Last week, I bought a bouquet of flowers for the doctor who gave me my COVID shot, saying thank you. Twice a year, I will stop where someone has been regularly twirling a sign for some business. I will hand them $20, tell them I admire their work habits and know that they will be successful in the years ahead. Then I usually have to lift their jaw off the ground.

Saying to someone something like “Hey, that blue shirt really looks good on you” can really improve someone’s day.

I like to check out items at antique malls. A few years ago, I got my coffee at the same place every day, so I got to know some of the baristas. One of them was an avid horse rider, performing at shows and the like. I saw a small, unique (and cheap) horse item at a store one day, and purchased it for her. When I got my coffee the next day, she wasn’t working, so I asked someone to put it in her box. Sometime in the future, as I pulled up to the drive-up window, she was there, and she just lit up.

“You have no idea how much I appreciated your gift,” she said. “I was having the worst day and came to work with a horrible attitude. When I saw your present, my day turned around 180 degrees.” By that time, I had honestly forgotten that I had given her something.

When you get the mindset of looking for opportunities to make a positive difference in people’s lives, one can find countless opportunities that don’t cost any money, opportunities that will really mean a lot to people.

Tom Tangen, Washington

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As a professor, I try to instill in my students the profound impact of work experience in helping to shape work ethic in the classroom and in the field. Often enough, students get too caught up in their grades or grade point averages and fail to realize that experience matters when they apply for jobs after graduation.

Whether it be volunteering or paid service, there is no substitute for “real-world experience” as it serves to instill confidence in the individual and gives them a sense of purpose.

All the best,

Dr. Stephen P. Sowulewski, Virginia

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What advice would you like to give to the younger generations?

We call on all of our readers to share the timeless values that define right and wrong, and pass the torch, if you will, through your wisdom and hard-earned experience. We feel that the passing down of this wisdom has diminished over time, and that only with a strong moral foundation can future generations thrive.

Send your advice, along with your full name, state, and contact information to NextGeneration@epochtimes.com or mail it to: Next Generation, The Epoch Times, 229 W. 28th St., Floor 7, New York, NY 10001