Before I go into my end of month post, it’s your last chance to suggest something for my last month! Either go on the Suggest My Last Month page and comment a suggestion, or message me personally an idea. On Friday I will be posting the top five ideas (both interesting to do and interesting to write about every day for a month) which you can then vote for to see what I will be doing in February.
I made it through Good Deed month!
Yesterday I was working and serving a very nice couple. I decided to pay for one round of their drinks when the bill came. I really wanted it to be a random act of kindness, so when I brought them their bill I told them an anonymous table of people bought them their drinks, as a nice gesture. However, the gesture only works if they don’t know who bought the drinks for them. The couple was a little confused at first, but then were touched. They told me to thank the strangers after they left and to let them know that they would pay it forward.
If this month represents anything to me, it’s the hope that all of the good deeds I’ve done will inspire people to also do good deeds. And for every good deed they do, hopefully those people will pay it forward too. (There’s a whole Pay It Forward movement, based on the book by Catherine Ryan Hyde. There is also a Random Acts of Kindness Foundation.) Hopefully this ripple effect will stay in the minds of those who it’s touched and next time they are on the subway and a man with crutches walks by, they will offer their seat up. We might not be able to change the world, but this month has taught me we can all make a difference in one person’s life by doing very simple things. Sometimes it’s the little things that count.
Recap of the month
There have been some majors ups and downs this month, including a few very personal posts (and comments) that my one friend described as: “I felt awkward, but I couldn’t stop reading. It was like I was reading your personal journal or the thoughts the world is not supposed to hear”. But I definitely came out on top of it all. Here are a few of the things I did and a few of the things I learned:
- I donated to quite a few charities, including: Habitat For Humanity; Children’s Aid Foundation (donated Shoppers Optimum points); helping send a child to school in the Dominican Republic; helping send kids to high school in a rural part of Thailand; Project Winter Survival; Daily Bread Food Bank (canned goods); Goodwill (used clothes and shoes); and the Canadian Blood Services (well, I haven’t donated blood yet because of my damn cold, but I have an appointment for next week).
- I did random good deeds for strangers, including: putting money in expired parking meters; giving directions; opening doors; picking up trash in my neighbourhood; gave out compliments and smiled more; bought drinks; took time out of my day to have a conversation with a lonely lady; and gave money to homeless men and women.
- I volunteered at the Toronto Alliance Church with their free meal for those who are in need and at the Hamilton/Burlington SPCA.
- I helped friends and family in various ways – some they know about, some they don’t.
- I saw the extremely good and the extremely bad in people in one day.
- I learned how emotionally draining the topic can be.
- I researched the science of goods deeds and good deeds in religion.
- PackForAPurpose.org – such a great idea…
What did I learn?
I went through a few learning curves this month. I’d like to describe myself as a kind, generous person, a good friend and someone who would give up her seat on the streetcar to a pregnant lady. And I am all of those things. But I also saw how much more I could be doing. Although difficult to find at times, every opportunity for me to help other people made me feel amazing. It inspired me to do more. It made me aware of every chance I had to make another’s life a little easier. It opened my eyes to the people in need I don’t see that are right in front of me.
I had a hard time writing about doing good deeds because at times I thought it might take away the value of them – that somehow they weren’t as nice if I said them out loud. I understand why people say that and might think that, but I disagree. If you do something nice for someone, it is just as nice if it is a secret as if you tell other people what you’ve done. I’d even go so far as to say that if you do a good deed you should tell everyone you can. Hopefully it will inspire them to go out and do something nice for someone else.
Finally, I learned that although donating money is amazing and needed badly by many charitable organizations, being on the front lines (volunteering, etc) is where you really feel connected to the project and will affect you the most personally. If you’re wanting to do good deeds to make yourself feel good (and I absolutely do not see anything wrong with that, as long as you are genuinely doing good), do something that requires you to “get your hands dirty” and be involved. Good deeds give you a high like no other and a place and belonging in your community – you feel physically great helping other people (or animals, or the environment).
Where do I go from here with Good Deeds?
I am so excited to start a regular volunteer project in the new year. It’s in the works (very early stages of planning), but a friend of mine and I are going to start volunteering regularly together as a New Years Resolution for him and a continuation of this month for me. I will also be making an effort this year to keep doing at least one good deed a day – some days simple things and some days more complex. I am inspired.
Tomorrow starts Life at the Poverty Line. Hopefully I still remember how to use my extreme couponing skills…