“It’s so easy to dismiss the opportunity to do something good because you’re hoping to do something great.
Don’t wait. If you have something to give, give it now.”
—Mark Bezos, Ted Radio Hour, Giving It Away
I’m usually not huge into New Year’s resolutions—I prefer writing gratitude lists and making incremental changes that don’t overwhelm me (or disappoint when I don’t follow through). But in 2017, I wanted to do a kind of resolution that feels imperative: to do good every day.
Sure, I could resolve to exercise every day or cut out sugar or lose just enough weight so I feel comfortable in jeans again. But this year I need to put my values into action and make the world a little better.
I already did what I could to affect the outcome of the national election. I donated, I stuck a magnet on my car, I voted. And I was disappointed. Crushed.
I have to face the fact that I did not do enough.
I can’t go back in history, and I can’t change the results of our presidential election. But I can change my own story.
Creating the world I believe in
I am resolving to do good every day so my beliefs and actions match.
I want to see a better, more inclusive, more fair world. I believe in equal rights and opportunities for all people regardless of sex, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual identity and more.
It’s up to me—no, all of us—to make this a reality.
I am terrified of what may happen when Donald Trump is sworn in as president later this month. “But he hasn’t even done anything yet,” people say. Well, his promises and actions are enough to make me fear what is to come.
I can call my representatives, sign petitions and write emails—and that will definitely be a part of my resolution to do good every day. But I will also be directing my efforts at local issues and individuals.
Kindness is its own political action
I will be politically active, going to marches and calling my representatives. But I am also resolving to make a difference—no matter how small—in the lives of people near me.
Because we can’t discount the power of doing good just because it’s a small act of kindness.
Kindness—holding open the door for someone struggling with too many bags, stopping by a nursing home to wish a stranger happy New Year, calling your grandmother out of the blue—cannot be overestimated.
Kindness won’t protect a woman’s reproductive rights or advance environmental justice. But just because kindness won’t save the world doesn’t mean it’s not worthwhile. Small actions count, too.
Resolutions becoming a lifestyle
The key to making a resolution stick is to make it a habit. We do habits every day because, well, they’re part of what makes our life go ’round. I get the mail while walking my dog, I make a pot of tea before sitting down to write, I turn off the lights before going to bed. These are all habits.
I want to make the habit to do good every day just as much part of my routine as brushing my teeth, only better: This will be a conscious habit.
I want to think about the people, communities and world I’m benefiting. I want to see them eye-to-eye and share my successes (and frustrations). I want to be held accountable.
So here’s to a New Year’s resolution that sticks. Ask me if I’ve done something good today—I’m looking forward to sharing the small but significant changes I can make in the world.
Help me out: What do you do to do good? I will need some ideas and inspiration, both large and small!