Throwing Starfish

One day a man was walking along the beach when he noticed a boy picking something up and gently throwing it into the ocean.

Approaching the boy, he asked,
“What are you doing?”

The youth replied, “Throwing starfish back into the ocean. The surf is up and the tide is going out.  If I don’t throw them back, they’ll die.”

“Son,” the man said, “don’t you realize there are miles and miles of beach and hundreds of starfish?
You can’t make much of a difference.”

After listening politely, the boy bent down, picked up another starfish, and threw it back into the surf.  Then, smiling at the man, he said…
“I made a difference for that one.”


I heard this some time ago and have held it close to my heart ever since.  It’s a nice philosophy to apply to one’s life.  Each one of us wants to make a difference, but where do we start?  It’s so overwhelming to think about ending world hunger or finding shelter for the homeless.  But we are all compelled to try and do something.  Not everyone has the time to start an organization, raise funds, and go build houses in a third world.  Many of us can hardly make ends meet ourselves so how could we possibly spare a donation to a charity?

This is only my opinion, but I think it starts on a smaller scale.  Think of the tiny pebble that creates giant ripples in water.

Here’s my idea, it’s not a new one, but perhaps a forgotten one:

Be kind.  Just be kind to people.  It puts them in a good mood, which in turn allows them to be kind to another person.  Passing it forward in a way.  Just like gossip spreads as fast as the flu, so can kindness, if people did it.

So make it a habit to be kind, stop judging, lend a helping hand, and put the people around you in a good mood.  Spread that positive energy and eventually it will reach the people who do have the money or platform to do something huge.  And then, you will have made a difference at a larger scale.  Even at a smaller scale, you can brighten a person’s day and change their whole day around.  It could be the worst day possible for them, maybe they got some bad news, and then your bright smile and kind attitude just flipped that right around.

If you could imagine love and kindness as a way to communicate, it is a language that all can understand, the deaf can hear it, the blind can see it.

Being kind is infectious and so good for you.  Studies have shown that being positive and happy significantly improves health.  Kindness breeds more kindness.  So get out there and spread that love that you have inside of you.

Be forgiving and understanding at the times when people really test you.  This isn’t an easy task, people can be skeptics and sometimes they question kindness.  They wonder, what’s the catch?  Are there strings attached?  It is a sad thing to admit, but we immediately jump to the negative or cynical answer.  There will also be the people who get defensive when you are thoughtful towards them.  Say you give them some helpful advice or just offer your help in some way and they jump to a defense and treat you as if you were questioning their decisions or beliefs, don’t fret, their problem is deeper than you need to worry about. Just continue on your path.  There’s a fine line.  You do what you can to spread positivity-you are responsible for your actions, not the other person’s perception.

If any of this happens on your quest to kindness, don’t be discouraged.  Be persistent.  Ignore the people who want to bring you down or hold you back and continue on your goal.  Remember to love these people no matter what, and with consistency comes belief.  They will believe in you once you prove that this kindness and love is real and honest.  And really, you can’t win them all, but you can try your hardest!

I encourage all of you to think back to a time when a stranger was really nice to you.  Think about when someone helped you out and to no benefit of their own.  How did that make you feel?  Special?  Loved?  Happy?  Do that for someone else.  It’s time to make a difference, one starfish at a time.


4 thoughts on “Throwing Starfish

  1. Monali says:

    Great post Shreeda! We should all strive to be more kind and make a difference. As busy as we have become, it takes so little to help just one person. Consider me your starfish for today! : )

    • Thank you so much Monali! Your support means so much to me. We’re starfishing back and forth! You’ve always been such a great friend. I hope I’ve made you feel the same happiness you’ve given me by being in my life!

  2. Monali says:

    You’re so sweet! I’m proud to have you as a friend and I wish you lots of luck with everything you’ve taken on. You are such a talented soul and its time for the rest of the world to see it!

  3. basimmousilli says:

    Great post, this really changed my mood. Thanks for sharing a great intro story and great advice.

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