Miguel Panao | Professor and Author

Finding ways to improve scientific writing and academic productivity.

Simple ideas to make an impact

Have you ever felt, even for a moment, you would like to make a difference in the world with a simple idea?

Creativity distinguishes us from animals, not rationality. And ideas emerge from our capacity to create. The best way to create is to practice your creativity. 

The first place where simple ideas make an impact is yourself. Research shows people are more creative when they’re passionate about what they are doing [1]. And simple ideas are… well, simple, and usually they come from the heart, which means they’re the fruit of passion.

Let me give you an example. Harvey Ball. He may not be a name you recognize, but if I showed you what he created, do you recognize it?

That’s right. He was the creator of the smiley face everyone in the world knows. A simple idea to wish others – “have a nice day!” A simple idea that took him 10 minutes to make and earn $45. I’m sure money didn’t move Harvey, but a passion for making simple things visible.  

Not all of us have the luck of making something simple and creative that can change the world, but if we start by changing the world close to us, it’s worth to try. Simple ideias can trigger a ripple effect changing the world surrounding us, touch the lives of those we meet and, in time, impact the world.

Here are 5 simple ideas to help you stimulate your creativity and change the world. 

1. Smile

Smiling is one of the most powerful ideas ever. Simple to do and can change the world around you in a blink of an eye. If you smile to someone, usually the other smiles back. A simple smile may change the mood of the other, his whole day and make an unexpected impact.

2. Listen

We live in a noisy world. People have so much going on in their lives and everyone is so busy that finding someone who listens can make a profound change. Have you ever experienced listening to someone, say no word, and at the end that person says – “Thank you! You help me so much.”? You listen and that’s rare in a noisy world.

3. Support

Have you ever experienced the power of a supportive word about a work you were doing? Supporting someone is a simple idea to value the other. If your kid is making 5 math exercises and get one calculation wrong, support him by valuing the 4 correct answers first and then help him with the wrong one.

4. Gentleness

Our whole day may depend on the tone in the first words we listen from our spouse, or first person we meet. Gentleness is a simple idea we can practice every day. Every time you stop to let a person cross the street by making a small and gentle gesture with your hand providing security. A small touch in the shoulder of someone going through a hard period in life.

5. Persist

Creativity comes from passion, from the love you put into things.

Smiling when you’re down,

listening when you have so much to do,

supporting when you think you’re the one who needs it,

being gentle after a long tough day is difficult, because loving can be tiring.

Persist. And think about Chaos Theory. Small acts can trigger a chain of events with enormous consequences. Don’t give up on little things, and trust science. The simple things you can do worth more than the bigger things which remain to do.

QUESTION: Have you experienced the power of other simple ideas? Sharing it in the comments below is another simple ideia worth doing 🙂

(1) T.A. Amabile, C.M. Fisher, “Stimulate Creativity by Fueling Passion”, Handbook of Principles of Organizational Behavior, Wiley, 2009, p. 481-498.

About Miguel Panao

I am a Professor at the University of Coimbra in Mechanical Engineering. I am also author of books in the fields of environmental ethics and Science and Religion. From the several research projects, this site is personal and dedicated to the search for the best approaches, tools, techniques to improve scientific productivity.

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