We'll be starting a new year in the coming days, and that means new opportunities for many of us.
Many make resolutions at the beginning of the year, whether it be to lose weight, save some money for a special trip, look for a new job or learn a new skill.
We've all seen a lot of bad in recent weeks, and it's left most of us shaking our heads and wondering what has happened to make the world this way.
I believe there are ways each of us can do something to make a positive and lasting influence on the world.
Part of it is taking responsibility for what we do.
We all make mistakes. We all have regrets. But we can't even begin to make up for it without admitting our bad choices.
I believe most of the world's population knows the difference between right and wrong.
Unfortunately, there are those who don't seem to care when the wrong choice is made. People need to remember there are always consequences for their actions and we need to accept them.
But we also need to try to do good in this world.
In the wake of the Newtown shooting, for example, there was a movement to do 26 acts of kindness in memory of the 26 people killed at the school.
Some people said they bought a meal for a stranger. Others may have bought Christmas presents for someone they knew weren't going to have much for the holiday.
Good deeds don't have to be limited to a tribute, though. It can simply be a part of our everyday lives. There doesn't have to be a particular reason.
We each have skills we can put to use for the betterment of others.
Those who are able to use tools and build might want to look into their closest Habitat for Humanity project. There have been several in the Ohio Valley over the years, and I'm sure they would be glad to have your help.
If you can cook, perhaps you could prepare a meal for a special group of people as thanks for their hard work in the community.
This weekend gave us one such opportunity to so something positive.
Maybe you have a neighbor who has difficulty shoveling their snow or cutting their grass.
Go next door and offer to help them out. Shovel their sidewalk so they at least can get to their mailbox or car.
In the spring, you can help them plant some flowers around their house, or rake their leaves in the fall.
Perhaps there is a service project taking place in your community. See if there is a way to get involved and contribute toward its completion.
Is there someone with whom you once were close but haven't spoken to in a long time? Maybe it's time to reach out and try to make amends. You never know until you try and it could lead to some good for both of you.
Volunteer your time with one of the many area charities and non-profit organizations.
They could all use the help and it is amazing to see how many people are affected by their work.
Each positive action leaves a lasting mark on those who observe it or are affected by it.
We remember the good things as much as the bad, possibly more. Those good actions could lead to more good actions which eventually could spread throughout your community or your region.
Maybe with the new year there is something you want to change about yourself.
I, for example, continue to work on improving my cooking skills. It's something I enjoy doing and the only place my high school chemistry classes ever made any sense to me.
Do you want to learn to play a musical instrument?
Perhaps you have always had an interest in theater. You could get involved in a local group, helping them out and entertaining area residents at the same time.
A new year is a time for changes and new beginnings.
Whether you learn a new skill, take on a new responsibility or simply go around performing random acts of kindness for strangers, you are doing something to make a difference in the world.
Each positive action leads to other positive actions.
Remember we are only in this world for a relatively short amount of time. We need to find ways to leave it in a good condition for future generations.
Take responsibility for our actions, help others, pass on your knowledge and make changes for the good of the world.
(Howell, a resident of Colliers, is managing editor of The Weirton Daily Times, and can be contacted at email@example.com or followed on Twitter @CHowellWDT)