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The Art of Doing Good

Updated on December 23, 2017

Personal Enjoyment

“The luxury of doing good surpasses every other personal enjoyment.” - John Gay

I read this quote in my Franklin Planner, and it inspired me. I decided to take note of all the “ways” a person could do good. Not surprisingly, I found many ways.

Short List

But what if you’d like to be generous and compassionate, but you’re a little short on funds? No worries. Here is a short list of ideas on how to “do good” that require nothing (or next to nothing) in terms of money.

  1. Pick up your litter, and put it in the trash. If there isn’t a trash can nearby, hang onto that tissue, coffee cup, etc. until you find one. For extra bonus points, pick up someone else’s trash, and put in in the trash can too. Think about it – if everyone did that, we could wipe out the litter problem.
  2. Hold the door open for someone else, even if that means you have to stop and stand still while someone approaches slowly who is limping or using a cane. And smile while you’re doing it.
  3. Return something lost to the rightful owner. For example, we found a lost driver’s license. It took a little effort, but we mailed it to the name on the license. I will admit, I wish I could have seen the person’s face when it showed up in the mail. But I have an excellent imagination.
  4. Call your Mother. Seriously, the woman gave birth to you. She deserves to hear from you more than once a year.
  5. Compliment someone. Any random stranger will do. We were going through a toll booth, and I called out a compliment to the lady working the booth (she was wearing a festive hat for the holidays). Her smile took the sting out of paying the toll.
  6. Give your waiter (or delivery person) a generous tip. Okay, this one does cost a little money. But giving $5 on a $20 tab is 25%, and it will not break the bank. Seriously, if you can afford to eat out, you can afford a couple extra bucks. I did this on a recent pizza delivery, and the delivery driver smiled and said, “Everything goes to my kids.” Such a sweet feeling.
  7. Get coffee for someone else first thing in the morning, so that they can stay in a warm, comfy bed. Husbands for wives, wives for husbands, etc. It all counts.
  8. Agree with someone out loud, to make them feel validated. I know this doesn’t sound like much, but when was the last time you heard someone say, “You know, you’re right!” Feels good, doesn’t it? So when someone makes a comment that you agree with, feel free to speak up. Like the time I was standing at the coffee area in the hotel lobby, and the gentleman in front of me said, “This is set up backwards.” He looked up, and saw me standing there. Rather than let him feel awkward, I said, “You know, I thought the same thing. I just didn’t say it.” The grin on his face was priceless.
  9. Say “Good Morning,” and mean it, especially to someone “invisible.” How many times have you walked past a housekeeper in a Hotel, or any other kind of service person, without even looking up from your smartphone? Just saying a few simple words might lift their spirits, more than you might know.
  10. Pick up after your dog on those long walks in the neighborhood. For bonus points, pick up after somebody else’s dog, too. I know, I know. It sounds gross. But if everyone did it, the park would be a much more pleasant place.
  11. Respond promptly to requests for information, especially when someone is waiting on you. Don’t make them ask twice. If the answer is “no,” it gives them time to make other plans.
  12. When someone asks you how you are, return the favor by asking them back. And then actually listen to their response – for words, tone, and body language. Respond to them as a human being – not somebody you need to get past to continue on your way. The world has become an impersonal place. Each of us could do our part to change that – one person at a time.
  13. Put things back where you found them. If the creamer was located in a specific spot on the beverage cart, put it back there. It saves people searching for it.
  14. The exception to the above is if something is empty, or almost empty. In that case, don’t put it back. Find the person in charge of refilling, and let them know.
  15. Compliment the cook. Tell your waiter how your enjoyed your meal. Be as specific as possible, such as, “all of the ingredients were incredibly fresh.”

Small vs. Large Scale

These are just a few ideas for doing good that are simple, and small in scale. You can always make the “grand” gesture, (e.g., donating $1,000 to your Church or local charity), or the “public” gesture, such as making a donation so that your name appears on a plaque or in a bulletin. These ideas are much more intimate. And you can do them every day.

I’d love to hear your ideas in the comment section below.

How do you feel about the concept of "doing good?"

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