As you might recall, my New Year’s resolution was to do something good every day. In January, I just about succeeded at that. I missed a day here and there, but overall, I made progress on my resolution. In January, I helped build the world I believe in.
It hasn’t been entirely easy, and every day I fight against feeling overwhelmed. But I remember Mark Bezos’s quote and push myself to make someone else’s life better, even in a small way.
“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
Here’s what I learned by doing good every day in January.
I made a spread in my bullet journal to keep track of doing good every day. It was a reminder if I skipped a day (oops—time to do extra good deeds!). More importantly, it was a reminder that I’d made a difference—however small—in the world.
Looking back over my January Do Good spread, I can see the variety of actions I took. I called my legislators and brought dinner to a friend who just had a baby. I marched in the Women’s March and I gave neighbors a TV, DVDs and kids’ clothes we didn’t need anymore. I became a monthly donor to the ACLU (if you do the same see if your company will match your gift) and wrote LinkedIn recommendations for colleagues.
My bullet journal spread makes me feel like my everyday acts of kindness and political resistance add up to something.
Like many Americans, I’m horrified by what’s happening in my country. But signing every petition and waiting on hold every day when calling my representatives will just lead to burnout.
So some days I call governmental officials, and other days I don’t. I’m finding a balance between political action and good old-fashioned kindness.
With so much need in the world, it shouldn’t be hard to find something good to do—and usually it isn’t. But there were a few nights I realized that I hadn’t gone out of my way to do good yet, so I had to find something I could do in my pajamas at 10pm.
When my well of inspiration ran dry, I turned to several Facebook action groups I’m a part of. All it took was scrolling a bit to find something I could do from home—like send a hopeful message to refugees or take an oath to uphold the Constitution in whatever way makes sense for me.
I’ve also relied on a handful of resources that have fantastic ideas so we can all do good every day. (See below!)
You can’t do everything
Pretty sure I’m not the only one feeling overwhelmed, but facing a multitude of problems is no reason to do nothing.
I’ve given myself permission to not try to do it all. If I have done one act that makes a difference—paying for a homeless man’s lunch, thanking my senator for representing my values, babysitting a friend’s daughter while she goes to the doctor—I have reached my goal.
Many days I end up doing more. That’s great! But allowing myself the grace to say, “That’s all for today” prevents me from feeling like a terrible person when I delete that request to sign yet another petition.
There will always be more to do. And there is always tomorrow.
Resources to do good every day
Looking for some ideas on good deeds or political action you can do right now? Check out these links.
- Read this article on what you can do about the Syrian humanitarian crisis
- Sign up for Re-Act, a weekly newsletter listing political events, news sources about them and steps you can take to make your voice heard (including sample scripts in case you’re tongue tied like me)
- Join people around the world to vow to do something nice for someone else at kindness.org
- Find a nearby group dedicated to opposing un-American actions at Indivisible.org
What would you add? How have you been doing good lately?