December 31, 2012

"Thirteen years ago, I happened to be at my folks for New Year's."

"Both my Dad and my significant other were asleep in couches and Mom and I were sitting drinking and gossiping."
The subject of resolutions came up and somehow we decided we were going to do a good deed at least once every day for a year.

It seemed so much better than depriving ourselves of something or quitting something or losing weight or whatever. It could be as simple as letting someone ahead of us in traffic, helping a person find the right aisle in the grocery or even being nice to a telemarketer.

My Mom passed away that year. I have done a good deed every day since, for the last thirteen years. And every time I do, I think of her.


edutcher said...

Good thought, but, if all it takes is being nice to telemarketers, I may be up for sainthood.

SunnyJ said...

Isn't that what we all really hope we will leave behind? An act of kindness, secretly with our name on it, every day. Yes, that shoe fits perfectly. There must be a recipe of your mom's that can help us inspire such a lovely tribute. One wihtout 75 cent words, but acts...acts of kindness. Maybe in 2013, you will consider sharing her recipe. What went into a woman that would inspire her daughter to act daily in her memory?

Happy New Year!

Indigo Red said...

I think I'll resolve to something I will actually do - feed the ducks.

BleachBit-and-Hammers said...

I was just thinking about new year's resolutions. I hope to find time to volunteer more. The homeless problem is exploding.

m stone said...

An impressive accomplishment, no matter the standards. I wish Anne well, but, seriously, the multitude acts of blessing return more than I could bestow.

Petting a dog is actually a form of blessing---and there is a return on the investment.

I object to the "ethics" tag. Better to be "morality."

Dante said...

What's the definition of "Good Deed?" Does paying more in taxes than I get back count?

Anonymous said...

As the Aussies would say - "Good on ya' girl".

kjbe said...

Lord, make me a channel of thy morning prayer for the last (almost) 12 years. It's a life changer.

Robert said...

Random Act of Kindness. Back in the 90's it was a "thing" in the Kansas City area. I still try to do one once a day. I will let the recipient know by saying "This is my random act of kindness." It still has impact on people. They will always smile.

Gahrie said...

I try to be considerate of others every day. I try to be helpful to others every day. I believe it is an obligation of civilized living to do so. However, the number of barbarians among us is getting higher every year.

Unknown said...

I love the idea. I think I'll get my girls to do it with me.

edutcher- I fully understand but
it's easy for me to be nice to telemarketers since two of my children have worked for phone centers to get through college. It helps to know the people doing it are just trying to make enough money to achieve their goals. A job is a job.
It's much harder to be nice to government employees on the phone, since they seem to regard being unhelpful and obstructionist as one of the perks of the job.

bagoh20 said...

The doer of good deeds gets a lot out of the giving. That's why I'm going to try and let someone do something nice for me every day - even if I have to force them. It's for their own good, and I'm willing to sacrifice my own enjoyment as a giver to let someone else enjoy it on me.

I just opened a fortune cookie that said: "You will live long and enjoy much in life." So with that in my back pocket, I can pretty much do whatever I want now. Success through Chinese take out. I wish I knew about this years ago.

bagoh20 said...

Randomness is way overvalued. Just send me an Amazon gift card tomorrow, and be off to a good start. What makes that especially charitable is that I don't deserve it one bit. That's the hardest kind of giving, and only a very very good person would do it, but you're up for it. You are an exceptional giver.

bagoh20 said...

"Petting a dog is actually a form of blessing---and there is a return on the investment."

Tell me about it. I was on vacation for a week and when I got back to work, everyone was sick. I took evasive action, and refused to go in anyone's office, or handle any papers from others. I had built a defensive perimeter and I was determined to make it through Friday without catching anything.

I forgot something. I take three dogs to work every day, and they run free through the company. The first thing they do is run around and say good morning to every person, and then return to my office to bless me. I never even considered the canine vector until it was too late. Bless their hearts.

FleetUSA said...


Happy New Year

dvlfish13 said...

"He has a long and cruel and odious life before him, but I will change that, for I have no feeling against him and am quite willing to do him a kindness. I think I shall get him burned."

He had such strange notions of kindness! But angels are made so, and do not know any better.

CWJ said...

A wonderful thought and story. Thank you, Ann and Happy New Year!

dreams said...

I wonder if she voted for Obama before or after doing her daily good deed. Maybe she considered that her good deed for the day.

After retiring I did a little volunteering and meals on wheels for a few years, there were some old women who look forward to their meals just to have a little visit with someone while it was a nuisance for others who tried it but didn't like it. Some of them seem to be in physical pain and it just aggravated them to be bothered.

Also, I remember one day hearing the receptionist say something about her bosses taking their two hour lunches. I think working for a non profit is a lot like working for the government for you get paid with other people's money thus you're paid generously and you don't have to work too hard.

ellie said...

Happy New Year Ann! I am new to your blog by a few months, and have thoroughly enjoyed reading. Love this thought and sentiment!
Peace and all good.

Rusty said...

Sometimes, Althouse, it's enough just not to be a son of a bitch.

KCFleming said...

What a beautiful suggestion; a good deed each day.

A great thing to ponder.

Unknown said...

I was thinking the exact same thing. I wondered if I can get credit for NOT saying things I think of.

Smilin' Jack said...

Being nice to telemarketers is not a good deed. It's like feeding encourages more of them.

Cedarford said...

I draw the line at telemarketers. They intrude into my time and my space. They are unwelcome, laws were passed that over half the population jumped to sign up on - the No Call Lists.
And many of the firms just go ahead and break the law.

I understand the argument that the poor low level employees of the rich owners are just hapless low skilled people trying to put food on the table.
But so are union goons, poachers, and the poor people hooked up with a lawyer to get a cut of the action as slip and fall claimants.

Just because they are poor does not warrant being nice to them as law breakers or odious intruders.

Dante said...

When I was reading up on the Aftermath of the Duke Lacrosse case, you can see how skewed things have become. One of the lawyers representing the Lacrosse players talked ab out his father, who fought for civil rights for blacks. Apparently, their family was in serious jeopardy from random acts of violence.

That's what I call compassion, when you have real skin in the game. Today, everyone is like a chicken in "who has more skin in the game in a ham and eggs breakfast, the chicken or the pig."

DADvocate said...

I help by being someone you can do good deeds for.

Lem said...

I have done a good deed every day since, for the last thirteen years.

George Will spoke of that uniquely American drive to do good in his talk on Religion and Politics.

Lem said...

Happy new year everybody.

Synova said...

I understand not liking telemarketers or political pollsters or bill collectors.

I understand hanging up on them.

The telemarketers work because polite people don't interrupt and wait for a break in the spiel to try to say "not interested."

Just hang up.

What I don't understand is the people who are abusive to you. It takes effort to be abusive to you. When I was calling before the election I got (very rarely) someone who screamed at the top of her lungs and some guy who swore and another who hit something on his phone that made a piercing shriek. The purpose, obviously, was to hurt me.

Just hang up. Being a total dick to a real person isn't going to keep someone from calling again and again. They can't see your phone number, can't access a "list" to update your wishes, they're just trying to get paid and are doing the worst job possible. The worst thing that happened to you today was getting a nuisance phone call.

So hang up.

Annie C. said...

Wow, after years of reading Althouse, I finally comment and it makes a post!

Thank you Ann.

tim maguire said...

Doing a good deed everyday is better than most resolutions, and as noted through the list of what counts as a good deed, it is more easily possible then it sounds at first.

My only quibble is that being considerate and decent is not so much "a good deed" as it is a way of life. I do these little good deeds regularly not because of some resolution, but because that is the person I'm trying to be.

MadisonMan said...

@Anne -- quality, not quantity.

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

Do a good deed every day. They taught us that in Boy Scouts.

They also taught us to be polite to everyone. But they never taught us what to do when your kindness is taken for submission, for example, when you hold the door for someone who ignores your presence completely.

That's one of those things you have to teach yourself, eventually.

Saint Croix said...

I do these little good deeds regularly not because of some resolution, but because that is the person I'm trying to be.

Yeah, but that's vague.

Doing a good deed every day is a very specific goal. You have to keep track. You have to have the opportunity to do a good deed. And if you don't have the opportunity, you have to make the opportunity.

I've only got 9 hours left, for instance, and I haven't done a good deed yet.

Although I did refrain from calling Ritmo an idiot. Does that count?

Also, you can't brag about your good deeds. So I just ruined that one. If that was one. Damn it!

Oh, crap, I just cursed. Now I'm adding evil to the world.

It could be as simple as letting someone ahead of us in traffic, helping a person find the right aisle in the grocery or even being nice to a telemarketer.

I do all those. But that's not a daily deed. How often do people get lost in a grocery store, anyway.

Now I'm worried I'm going to be too aggressive in my helping. "Are you lost? Can I help you? You look lost."

I'm not going to be able to drive anywhere. "No, no, you go ahead."

I'm going to slide a dollar under my neighbor's door. And they're going to yank the door open and give me a look. "What is wrong with you?"

Uh, random act of kindness, I only had nine hours left, sorry.

I don't know, it's a lot of pressure. Maybe tomorrow.

Saint Croix said...

Oh, I'm totally calling one of these Althouse posts a good deed. It's free labor! Nobody's paying me. It's time and mental labor and, arguably anyway, it benefits humanity. There you go. I'm in.

Saint Croix said...

Anne gets a negative pride point for bragging about her good deeds in public. On the other hand, 13 years of daily good deeds works out to 1,749 good deeds. I have not kept tally, but I suspect I'm way behind. So I say she gets good deed points for putting the good deed challenge out there. And making me feel the good deed competitive heat.

Also, bonus points for pointing out that we should focus on other people and not ourselves.

My New Year's resolutions actually involve more sex, more money, and sex again.

See? Even the charitable nature of her resolution is morally superior to my goals for selfish self-improvement. Which I usually fail to accomplish anyway because I'm so damn lazy.

So, kudos to Anne for adding to the blog (point!), and having a really charitable and noble sense of self-improvment (point!), and a minor brickbat for bragging (point off!), leaving her definitely up one for the day.

Saint Croix said...

Okay, just did my good deed for the day. I am totally on board. Called my mom and told her how awesome she was.

I know, she's family. You're supposed to be nice to your mom! Anyway, small steps. Tomorrow I'll be nice to my brother.

What's awesome about this good deed program, is that it makes me feel happy.

My resolution to do more sit-ups is out the window. I hate doing things I hate to do. I suck at it. I can make myself do things, but not for long periods. Not for a year. My new year's resolutions are like a jail sentence.

But this new year's resolution is fun. I can do this.

Awesome, Anne, you rock. Bonus triple points for you.

Annie C. said...

Thanks to all for your comments! I did not mention this on Althouse to brag, but her post on resolutions actually made me realize how long I have been doing this (and how long Mom has been gone).

Thirteen years of consciously doing something every day just struck me. I thought other people might like to give it a try.

There were days when I was stuck in bed with the flu and had no opportunity, but you would be surprised, if you make the effort, how easy it is to find something good to do or say.

Maybe I just shop in crappy grocery stores, but there sure seems to be a lot of people that can't find the horseradish.