Mother Teresa’s name has become synonymous with kindness, compassion, and good works. Canonized as a saint for her many years of service, Mother Teresa is among the most famous religious figures of the 20th century. But what can we learn from her? Let’s take a look at her teaching.
Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person.
This quote from Mother Teresa reminds us that we need to start making changes ourselves. When we see something that is going wrong or not working, when we see injustice or a person in need, we have the power to make a difference right there and then.
We don’t have to wait for someone else to show us how, we can take the initiative ourselves.
If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.
Connections with other people are what make life worth living. You might need to remember how important it is to find other people and build strong bonds with them. Strive to be kind to others and do your best. Remember that we live in an interconnected world and that having a strong network of connections and giving to others is something that will provide us with additional support and strength.
When we feel unsettled, anxious, angry, or sad, we can always turn to other people for comfort and help them, which will in turn make us feel better as well. Research confirms that social connection is as essential for our well-being as something like exercise or a good diet.
I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.
It’s easy to feel powerless in a world where so many things seem to be going wrong. We might feel too small to make a difference, so why even try? Mother Teresa reminds us that even if all we can add is a little grain of sand, a small stone, it can have bigger effects than we imagine.
For example, helping a single person might not be such a huge deal, but when we do, we can change their day and their mood. Maybe they help someone else or simply smile and pass that smile to someone else. Not every action will change the world, but everything ripples.
Love cannot remain by itself – it has no meaning. Love has to be put into action, and that action is service.
Actions matter more than words. You might say or feel many things, but they need to be supported through action, especially when you want to show your feelings to another person. It’s not that words are bad, it’s more that Mother Teresa reminds us to put them into practice.
We can’t say we are good people if we never do any good. We can’t say we love someone if we never do anything to show it. Whatever we feel and whatever we believe becomes stronger when supported by actual things, not just words.
If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one
At the same time, what we do doesn’t have to be huge. Small actions have value too. Mother Teresa reminds us that we should not stop ourselves from doing good just because we can’t change the problem entirely. It continues on her other thoughts, like the value and power of action, but suggests that we can feel fine if all we can do is a small change, a small thing, a small act of kindness.
If all you can do is help one person carry their bags, do that. It’s not enough to change the world, but it’s enough to make a dent.
Intense love does not measure, it just gives.
A good thought to complete our collection of teachings by Mother Teresa is her opinion of love. She views it as something that does not measure: does not evaluate worthiness or what we receive in return. Love has worth on its own, and it should allow us to give.
Giving, even when we are not receiving in return or getting recognized or when we are hurt in some way, has value on its own, because it is the maximum expression of love.
Mother Teresa reminds us that we can and should be kind to others and show our love. We should seek connections and build powerful bonds because we live in a world together and because the connection is what gives our lives meaning.