How to Make a Difference in 2016

You made it.

Good news, friend -- you survived the holidays.

For weeks, you were surrounded by jolly advertisements, replays of classic Christmas movies, and festive holiday parties. All signs pointed to 'Tis' the season to be merry and bright.'

But maybe, like me, you were actually feeling more like that screaming kid sitting on Santa's lap.

You just wanted to make a run for it.

It was quite a year, wasn't it?

I think 2015 left us all wondering (and worried) about the world we live in. And in talking to friends at holiday get-togethers, there was a common theme that wasn't too merry and bright...

It was this: the crippling thought of feeling like we can't really have an impact in driving positive change in the world.

But hear this good news, friend.

I'm convinced of something that we can all do that will surely make a worthwhile dent in 2016.

Let's spread dignity.

You in?

Here are three ways to get started today.

1) Spread dignity through a smile.

I was yelled at in the post office by another customer, a lady ran me over with her shopping cart full of tinsel at Target, and someone blew their horn at me in the grocery store parking lot because I took too long to fasten my seatbelt.

That all happened in two beautiful hours one Christmas week morning. Bless.

The next time someone isn't so jovial with you, try making eye contact and smiling from a place of understanding and graciousness. They could have had a rough morning (or maybe they're just being a *b*), but we can disarm people so quickly with the power contained in a smile.

Try it out the next time the tinsel goes flying.

2) Donate out of solidarity, not pity.

The month of December was the time when many of us opened up our wallets and donated to our favorite charities. In 2016, instead of sending our pity along with those checks, let's choose instead to stand in dignified solidarity with those impacted by our dollars.

Reality check: we're more alike than we are different.

One of my formerly homeless friends once told me that when he had reached his lowest point what he thought he wanted was pity, but what he actually really desired was to be seen through a dignified lens that affirmed his equal worth.

Let's shift our mindset, and give of our time and money from a place of humility.

3) Use your purchasing power for good.

I've been blown away over the years by the infinitely scalable positive impact that dignified job opportunities can provide for vulnerable communities across the globe and right here at home in the United States.

Did you know that you can gift economic opportunity and help crush poverty and injustice by shopping with meaning in 2016? This is a simple way to make a positive impact.

I've seen Anna in the hills of Guatemala weaving fabric for that gift you'll buy your mom for Mother's Day, providing Anna's kids the chance to go to school for the first time ever.

We've watched Stephanie become a first generation college student through a steady income provided by making the bracelets you're going to gift to your best friend for her birthday, giving Stephanie the opportunity to pursue her dream of becoming a nurse.

I've seen Josephine in Rwanda hand rolling paper beads that created your new favorite tassel necklace, providing Josephine the opportunity to leave an abusive relationship.

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(Photo courtesy of The Flourish Market.)

I find that we have the opportunity when we cast our vote with our dollars to say to the person on the other end of the purchase 'I see you, and you are worth it.'

Spreading dignity. This is within your reach, friend.

And do you know what I've also found?

Somewhere along the way in encouraging another person's worth, we find our own.

My simple choices are a worthwhile dent. And yours are too.

(You can follow along with Em's adventures with The Flourish Market on Instagram and Facebook.)