Good Deeds Day:
Most people are good people. Well intentioned, who make a point of trying to do something nice for others every so often. There are times when we try to put a little extra focus into doing so. Major holidays. A friend’s birthday. A friend’s new diagnosis or loss of a loved one. The Sabbath. Times we’ve just had an unspeakable sorrow, so we turn around to be kind to others instead. But there are a lot of times inbetween. Times when we’re busy, or tired, or sick, or distracted. Times when we got up on the wrong side of the bed. Times when we ate the wrong thing and have indigestion. Times when we focus on ourselves instead of others.
If we tried to make EVERY day a do-good day, we’d wear out. It would become the same-old same-old and lose energy. David Roche talks about this in his book (one of my all time faves) Church of 80% Sincerity.
David Roche: The Church of 80 Percent Sincerity:
At the same time, I’ve always like the idea of trying to get a lot closer to 80% than the 20% that most of us manage to give as attention.
Good Deeds Day is one of those efforts to add just a little bit extra, and by putting attention into that little bit extra, by saying, “Just one day more,” spreading that attention across the days leading into it and following. Like Advent and Lent in the Christian tradition. Like Ramadan, Saraswati, Yom Kippur. Good Deeds Day actually takes place during both the Christian season of Lent and the Baha’i celebration of Ala, both times to focus on being just a little bit better than usual, a bit more aware.
In their words:
“Good Deeds Day is an annual celebration of good deeds. All over the world, hundreds of thousands choose to volunteer and help others, putting into practice the simple idea that every single person can do something good, be it large or small, to improve the lives of others and positively change the world.”
They began in 2007, and have gained steam each year. The site has phenomenal design (except for one glaring and prominent typo). The colors are fantastic, it is a real feel good site. They have ideas for how to engage a community around the idea, and example projects showing what other communities have done. Possibly something for churches or local organizations?
I like that the list on the site is designed to get people thinking about just small little things they can do to make a difference. For me, about half of these are things I already do with some regularity, things to which I already pay attention. The list for my daughter would be different than my list. So maybe, on March 10th, I’ll try to choose something on the list that I don’t do now. And maybe I’ll make it my special focus during Lent. Because even though GDD has grown largely out of Jewish communities, it is an idea that is so universal I don’t see any reason why it needs to be denominational.
Here is their list of ideas for making the world just a little bit better. Does it give you any ideas?
Adopt a pet from the animal shelter
Allow a stranger in a rush to go ahead in line
Ask a loved one how their day was
Bake a cake for a neighbor just ’cause
Be courteous on the road
Bike everywhere to cut down on fuel
Buy Fair Trade products
Carry a neighbor’s bags to the door
Carry a reusable bag for shopping
Choose to be happy
Compliment a stranger
Donate canned food to a soup kitchen
Donate to a cause
Donate used clothing to charity
Get together with father
Give a LIKE to a cause on Facebook
Help a friend in need
Hold the door open for a stranger
Keep an elderly person company
Make someone laugh
Make sure to turn off all unneeded lights
Organize a coat run
Praise a colleague’s good work
Put change in someone’s parking meter
Read a story for children at the local library
Recycle plastic bottles, paper and batteries
Run an errand for a neighbor
Sign up for a fundraising walk/race
Smile all day
Spend time with mother
Support a small business
Teach someone something new
Thank a friend for being amazing
Throw out a stray piece of trash
Treat a colleague to a cup of coffee
Volunteer for a cause