I recently went to an expo with my mom. There was a guest speaker who spoke about the intensity of his job working with children whom have been kidnapped and sold into sex slavery. He spoke about his work and told specific stories about going undercover to rescue groups of kids from all over the world. He showed pictures of children he’d saved, and the men who had bought them. It was both fascinating and disturbing. And as I sat there, I realized that I have almost no major problems in my life. I’m lucky to live the life I do, and I need to be better about appreciating that and doing good for the world around me.

It’s crazy how experiences can put things into perspective. Everyone goes through hard times, and we all face challenges, but I would argue that sometimes we make things harder on ourselves than we need to. I think it’s possible that we may play the victim card too often, or think our lives are worse than others. This is incredibly harmful and can make any situation more difficult.

When I saw those kids, it made me realize that I need to look outside of myself more often. Too often we get caught up in our own lives. We miss what’s going on in other people’s lives. In this era, America is fast-paced and always on the move. On the news we rarely see the details behind the people on screen. We may hear about atrocities going on, but we never see the impact it has on those affected — the individual pain and suffering that truly affects us as onlookers. An example is Puerto Rico. I can’t remember the last time the news has talked about how horrible it still is down there. People still don’t have power and water. They’re Americans, yet we feel so emotionally disconnected that we won’t fix the problem. These people are living lives like a third world country. But, of course, if it doesn’t affect us directly, it’s hard to step into another pair of shoes.

Don’t let others think for you. Don’t let the news influence you. We are all people of this planet, looking for and working towards something. We all feel pain. We all want to be happy. So instead of worrying about something in your life that probably isn’t that big of a deal, look to help someone else. Who knows, that could be the answer to your own problems. I know I’m always a lot happier when I’m serving others.

During this holiday season, I ask everyone to look outside themselves. You don’t necessarily have to look towards something as serious as sex slavery or poverty. There are plenty of people around who you can truly impact, but you’ll miss the opportunity if you’re swallowed up in your own world. By looking out for others our world will become stronger and happier. We can learn more empathy and compassion, as well as save lives. Let’s all be a little more conscientious about the people next to us because, in the end, we are all in this together.

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