How one incident with poverty in Canada changed my perspective on life

I commuted to Toronto on a daily basis and every morning a crowd of people raced off the trains into the streets of downtown Toronto.

Along my eight minute walk, I passed two homeless men that always slept in the same spots.

One slept on a subway exhaust vent for heat, while the other slept on the sidewalk.

Every day I would walk by and never donate anything. I’m a millennial who only carries Visa and Debit, rarely do I ever have cash.

However, I would always look to see what other people have donated.

5 cents, 10 cents, quarters, and a loonie or toonie here and there. Sometimes you’d find granola bars, oranges, and other snacks that people brought to work.

The majority of the business crowd ushered on by, almost oblivious to the human beings lying in the street. I was one of them and I feel guilty each time.

One morning as I’m walking along, a woman in front of me takes out a bundle of bananas and gives it to one of the homeless men.

She casually kept on walking and I seemed to be the only one who noticed her good deed.

I was taken aback by her act of generousity. I wanted to tap her on the shoulder and say, “You’re awesome for what you just did.” However, I bit my tongue. Why? I don’t know.

What if we were like that woman, and not like the crowd? How would our society be different?

After that kind gesture, I told myself I would buy a bundle of bananas and give it to the second homeless man.

I procrastinated, got busy, forgot, didn’t care? All of the above. I followed the crowd and ignored what was right in front of me.

Do something with no expectations of anything in return. You will feel better about yourself and will leave a priceless mark on another person’s life.

To be honest, I am a selfish person who only does things if there is a tangible or intangible benefit. Six years after graduating high school I have not once donated to a homeless person or gone out of my way to do a positive gesture for a stranger. I make up excuses, blame work and everything else, yet I still find time to watch Game of Thrones, House of Cards and every other show on my list.

As a society, we have moved from flip phones and bulky desktop computers, to iPhones and iMacs. The difference, “I”. We have become people that only think about “I” and never about “we”.

After voraciously reading many personal development books, I have summarized a few of the points that stood out to me. I want to change my actions for the better and hopefully have a positive impact on someone's life. Lets all try to practice these tidbits of wisdom to ultimately create happier and meaningful versions of ourselves.

Do these in baby steps and you will realize how society is moulding us into people that we do not want to be.

Dale Carnegie stated to do less: criticizing, condemning and complaining

Try counting how many times a day you criticize (either aloud or in your head). It could be what someone is wearing, how they speak, something they did, the scenarios are endless. Count how many times you condemn someone, this goes hand in hand with the former. On your drive home stop and think about how much you want to yell at other drivers for cutting you off, not letting you in and breaking ahead for no reason. And finally, count how many times you complain about how you don’t have X, Y, Z.

The majority of us do more bad than good, however, there is always room to change.

Smile more, say hello to strangers and the next time you criticize, condemn or complain, ask yourself if you’re benefiting from this type of behaviour.

I hope you got something positive out of this, even one simple action and shift in mentality can change your world. I recently started volunteering at a food bank out in Mississauga called Eden Food for Change. For families that want to eat more fruits and vegetables but do not want to fork out extra dollars, Eden has the program for you. With Eden’s fresh produce box program, they provide 8 items of fresh produce for $10 and $20 for an increased quantity of items.

Eden’s Fresh Produce Box

This provides families in surrounding neighbourhoods the opportunity to eat healthy at a fraction of the cost. No one should be subject to poor nutrition because they simply cannot afford higher priced food items. I volunteer 3 hours a week to help prepare these boxes. It’s easy work for something that makes a difference in people’s lives. Oh, and if you’re trying to eat healthier and get fit, the program is available to anyone! Simply place an order and pick up your cheap produce by the end of the week.

Everyone enjoys reading inspirational quotes so here are a few of my favourites:

We do not raise to the level of our hopes, we fall to the level of our training.
There is a reason we have two ears and one mouth. So that we listen twice as much as we speak.
Doing something unimportant well does not make it important.