Day 40: Making a Difference

You see this slogan all the time: Make a difference.

You see this on bumper stickers, on paper bags, even on bookmarks – in fact, everywhere you look!

But have you stopped and really absorb what this phrase is telling you? Have you asked yourself  whether you are really making a difference? Do you believe you can make a difference in whatever you are doing? Do you think everybody can make a difference in the lives of other people, even the homeless, or the person who is bagging your groceries, or the ice cream man?

I believe everybody can.

I believe you are also making a difference in somebody else’s lives, you just do not know it.

If you do not know it, maybe it is time to ask yourself about your gift or your talent.

I know somebody who is making a difference in the lives of many people.

You might have heard about him.

In 2004, while my husband and myself were still in the jewelry business, we met one of the most genuine, heart-warming and very talented artists in the Boston area, who is also a Filipino. Long before we read his biography and what he was trying to accomplish with his art, we know that this artist is different from the rest. What makes him different from the rest of the exhibiting artists is his kindness, his warm smile and also his heart.

We met Bren Bataclan, the successful painter behind the Smile Project during the South End Holiday Market in South Boston. During that time, he had only a year on his project but he knows his craft and he knows what he can do. He knows he can make a difference in the lives of every people by making them smile through his paintings.

The Smile Project began when Bren moved from San Francisco to Boston, and he noticed that people in the Boston area do not smile as often as they should. So, he started his project by leaving “free” paintings on the street with a note that says, “This painting is yours if you promise to smile at random people more often.” People would confess that those paintings that he left would lift their spirits up and would eventually smile. His project works but most importantly, his mission is accomplished: he is making a difference.

What started as a street art installation became a global project. Bren has since been featured in numerous television shows, national and international magazines and has also made a lot of people smile. He has also reminded a lot of people that being kind and being friendly is not that bad at all, in fact – the world would be a better place to live if we do smile, don’t you think?

Take Bren Bataclan, as your example. He does what he can with his talents. He does what he loves but at the same time making a difference in the lives of the people around the world.

What he started became a phenomenon.

What he is doing is remarkable!

Bren has a mission.

Bren knows how to make a difference.

Bren is making a difference.

And he is pretty good at doing it.

Bren continues to make a difference.

One painting, one smile at a time.

Mabuhay ka, Bren!

– Alpha

P. S. If you want to watch a CBS NEWS interview of Bren Bataclan, please watch the video below. You can also purchase his paintings on his website at  (Note: If you are a Filipino, he has some paintings with the Philippine flag on it. You can probably even request a Manny Pacquiao character, if you want!)


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