Saturday, July 18, 2009

6 easy to follow steps to "do-gooding"

Do-gooding, as I see it, is doing good deeds for no appearant reason. Some would call it altruism and start a discussion if people do it in order to feel good. Or maybe they do it to avoid feeling ashamed or guilty for not having done it. However, I'm not really looking for a definition. Instead let's take a look at the mechanics.

How to do-good.

Step 1: Find your niche.
You can't do-good all the time and on every topic. The world is too full of small hurts for you to take it all on. Even Mother Theresa specialized in the orphans of Calcutta. On a world scale, you could call that a small niche. On a personal scale it was a daunting task. She made her mark on the world without trying to do it all.
Your niche should be something you care deeply about. Wether it's poverty, the environment, health or any of the millions of things it's possible to care about, choose the one that touches your heart. If you don't feel passionate about it, do-gooding is going to be a chore rather than a service of joy.

Step 2: Define your boundaries
Determine how much of your time and effort you are willing and able to invest. Make sure that the time you commit to do-gooding detract you from the other things you find important and necessary in your life. Neglecting your family, health or job will result in stress in those area's of your life. Ultimately this will negate your positive effect on the world from do-gooding. To my knowledge Mahatma Ghandi only slipped once in his efforts to change the world through non-violence and this was when he was so angry he took a swing at his wife. Don't you make the same mistake, do-gooding starts at home!

Step 3: Set the scene.
Think about place and time: are you going to be do-gooding everywhere or in a specific area. Place and time could mean you volunteer a certain amount of time to a cause of your choice, actually setting time apart, or you could make it a goal to be alert for anonymous do-gooding all the time (see: Heroes). The main thing is that you choose where and when you have the intention of doing good. It will open your eyes to do-gooding opportunities everywhere.

Step 4: Start!
This may sound obvious but starting is one of the most difficult steps. Make that phonecall to the volunteer organisation of your choice. Offer to carry your elderly neighbors groceries. Help out at the local foodbank. Pick up that first piece of litter on the ground. There's enormous power in beginning. If you're finding yourself procrastinating, putting off the do-gooding, go back to step number 1, bearing in mind that you may have set your goals too high.There's a story about a man who came to the gates of heaven and to his dismay they were closed. He wept and lamented, begged the doorman for the key. He was there for days, weeping and complaining, moaning and groaning, claiming he had always had the best of intentions and never did anybody any harm. Never once did he get up and try the handle. The door was never locked.

Step 5: Evaluate
Be sure to evaluate periodically, especially important when you're just starting out. Have you made the right choice? Is the area you're doing good in the one you feel passionate about? Are you in the right surroundings, with people feeding you in your commitment to do-gooding? Are you still spending enough time in your daily life, doing the stuff that you had a prior commitment to? Is your do-gooding effort giving you the satisfaction of a job well done? Are you doing good at your own level of competence? Can you do more? Should you do less? Evaluate if the task you've set yourself fit's in with your life and brings you joy.

Step 6: Inspire others.
You've found your niche and you're happily making a difference in the world. You're doing good on a regular basis and at a level you feel comfortable with. You're reaping the rewards, whether they be the aforementioned lack of shame and guilt or the pride you might feel in a job well worth doing, done well. It's time to inspire others to do what you did, show them how much joy you're finding in service. Show them that when you listen to your heart and find your niche everyone can do good.

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