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Have you ever wanted to do something that matters? Something that not only contributes to the betterment of yourself, but also results in the betterment of others? What have you done to bring change in the world, however small?

I sometimes find this weird will to do something that touches people, something that makes them smile, or forget their world of sufferings and struggle — even if that’s for a moment. Someone told me that I must have been leading a happy and bored life to be wanting to make others happy. I wish I could make them understand that I have my fair share of sufferings and struggle in my life. But when all else fails, making others smile can bring back part of it to your own self.

But I never got around to find what I can do to make changes. This morning I woke up to see Humans of New York’s new post where the photographer Brandon captured a photo of Vidal and his school principal standing together with the US President Barack Obama. Even before I could look at it for long enough to generate thoughts in my mind about the photo, the first thing that came back to my mind was how lucky Brandon was.

No, I don’t think he’s lucky because he’s visiting the president. He certainly is lucky in that, but that’s not my angle. I don’t think he’s lucky because he’s got an enormous following. Again, yes he is lucky, but not my angle. My angle is, he is lucky that he can bring real changes to the lives of real people living in his neighborhood.

One thing that’s tough to find in today’s world is someone who listens to you without being judgmental

People, perhaps most of them, look at Humans of New York website or Facebook page and they see a successful man taking pictures of people. They probably see the work of a famous person. But when I look at his photos, I don’t see the famous side of him. Heck, even celebrities can get famous for no apparent reason. He, on the other hand, is someone who has the capability of bringing attention of a massive audience to little things in life, people around us who we normally wouldn’t have noticed if it wasn’t for Brandon.

Now, back to myself, what do I want to do that matters, that changes people’s lives, that brings people happiness? I could certainly try doing what Brandon is doing. In fact, a number of other people in my area have already started doing so, just like many other from around the world. Sadly, those of us who started it from my city have already stopped for some reason. Perhaps it was because the audience just wasn’t there? Who knows.

Despite the fact that I love photographing people, I know that this isn’t something I could easily do, let alone bring changes in their lives. So the other day I sat down and thought for a long time: What do I do best that can help people? The answer wasn’t very surprising.

I’m a good listener. This is a compliment that I’ve heard from many people. In real life scenario, most of the time, people think I’m either too moody or too careless because of my lack of engagement with those in my surroundings. What they don’t know is that I’m an introverted person. I don’t talk unless spoken to. But I am a very good listener. And one thing that is tough to find in today’s world is someone who will listen to you without judging you. So I figured, if I want to help someone, might as well just listen to them.

So starting today, I’m going to listen to people. Whether they are my friends or some strangers I meet on the web, I will try and listen to their problems, try to find a solution, or at least be someone who listens. Being an avid writer, I might also share some of those stories on this blog while making sure the person is non-identifiable throughout the stories. I may not be Brandon Stanton, I may not dive into the minds of millions of people around the world with each posting, but I may cheer up a person or two. Perhaps that is enough do something that matters; at least to someone.

What do you do that matters?

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