UNITED STATES—The older I get the more I realize that the simple things in life matter more than the elaborate or illustrious things we strive to obtain. It takes having a gut punch to the chest to realize that the tiniest things we complain about are nothing compared to some of the struggles that other people in the world are dealing with.

I mean there are people battling cancer, dealing with terminal illnesses, disabilities and conditions that prevent them from doing the everyday things that so many of us take for granted. It’s like sometimes a mirror has to be held directly to our face for us to realize the psychology of things. How we overreact, overthink and just complain incessantly about the dumbest stuff. I mean I have to take a real glimpse at myself to understand why so many Americans including myself, get caught up so much in our own lives we don’t think about others.

There are people I know who are struggling with the loss of a parent, a child, a loved one, suffering from blindness, unable to hear, wheelchair bound the list goes on and on. As Americans, so many of us lack empathy, we have to have a stark depiction of something in order for us to realize how privileged we are. That is a very sad; we should have to see someone else’s plight to realize how great we have it.

The ability to get up and go when we want, converse without having a communication hiccup, to ride a bike, to walk to see, to communicate the list goes on and on. I feel this desire to want to give more because of how privileged I am. I’m not rich, I want to make that crystal clear, but I can do something. Rather its volunteering my time, something is better than nothing. For a lot of people, the time you spend with them matters more than money you might donate or give to a local charity.

For those who can donate: DO IT! For those who can’t volunteer any spare time that you might have to help others. It can cause a domino effect, others seeing you volunteer might be cause for others to want to participate in doing similar things. People tend to mimic what they see others doing and I would hope people do it because they want to and not in hopes of drawing attention to themselves to showcase all the ‘good they are doing.’ If anything place a spotlight on a cause that is doing great things and need a bit more help doing the good work they are already doing.

Too many Americans don’t realize how great they have things until those materialistic things that we place on a pedestal disappear. This is not saying only to be appreciative of what you have it’s to realize in the long run that they are just THINGS. Things come and go, but the bonds you build with people can last for a lifetime. You never know how one act of kindness can totally change the person you are for the rest of your life.