Maya Angelou once said, "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."
That's why I love stories. Stories make people feel.
Although I watched it as a kid, I never really understood what the movie, Gorillas in the Mist, was about. Then I watched it again as a teen, more aware of the issue of poaching and endangered species, and it left me heartbroken. I even cried when one of the baby gorillas gets kidnapped, leaving behind an inconsolable mother, weeping for her child.
That made me feel. It also made me want to do something.
In addition to donating, writing letters to legislators and politicians, and signing petitions, I also -- rather desperately -- wanted to shout to everybody in the world: ''Why aren't you listening!? Why aren't you doing anything either!?''
But all that would have got me was a bad reputation as one of those ''mad animal rights activists,'' as some people call them.
The truth is, you get nowhere by screaming and shouting and drowning people with insults. The best way to inspire people? Be inspirational.
Think deeply about your values. Pursue them. Live in alignment with them.
I like to apply the ''Show don't tell'' writing concept in activism. Ask yourself: Who would inspire you the most: the screaming and shouting lunatic brimming with anger and bitterness or the positive peacemaker who eats his/her veggie meals and scatters food for stray animals with a smile on his/her face?
Trust me, you want to be the latter!
Set a positive example. Be the change you want to see, as the saying goes.
If you are living in alignment with your values, doing positive things and making a difference, grab your pen or your laptop and start writing about it.
Once you've written about what you do, how it makes you feel and the difference you're making, share your story, show it to the world, and there's no doubt about it, others will be inspired by your goodness and by how you've helped animals, making their lives better and yours too.
On my blog, Respect and Connect, you'll find lots of personal stories of people helping animals and the environment. From the dairy farmer who turned vegan to the designer who creates ethical clothing to the man who releases crabs back into the wild to the incredible woman who rescues homeless animals, you'll definitely be left inspired after reading these extraordinary stories.
So if you really, truly, want to help animals and make a difference in the world, know your values, know what you stand for, live in alignment with them, and show them to the world.
Everybody has a story to tell. Make your story extra special and extraordinary by making every day count. Once people see how easy it is to make a difference and how deeply it can change one's life, they will be encouraged to do the same. Result!
You can check out my blog at respectandconnect.org to read about people all over the world helping animals and the environment. You can also follow me, personally, on twitter @lkearney14