Teach someone to read.

Many adults in your community are eager to become literate. You can help them!

At the San Diego Public Library, over 150 people are on the waiting list for a free adult literacy program. Volunteer literacy tutors are constantly needed. I suspect this is true in many cities.

Perhaps, as a good deed, you could spread the gift of reading!

Many of your neighbors cannot read or write well enough to perform many everyday tasks. This makes their lives unnecessarily difficult. And they miss out on many wonderful things in life that you and I take for granted.

Reading is essential for success, and by helping others to read, you will directly improve their lives. You will provide the knowledge that people need to improve their situation. And you’ll help to end the intergenerational cycle of poverty.

Reading also provides one’s life with greater depth and joy. Reading daily inspiration, poetry, novels, letters from loved ones… Personally, I can’t imagine what my own life would be like without the basic ability to read.

This uniquely good deed is of unsurpassed importance. Helping just one person learn to read improves the ENTIRE WORLD…for that one grateful person!

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Reward street performers.

This holiday season many of us will hit the town to go shopping, attend festivities and make merry. And as we stroll along, we will encounter street performers.

Those who perform in public hoping for a small donation are usually people who could use a hand. They are employing their talents in the hope of making a little extra money to make their way through life.

Whether they are homeless, disabled, unemployed, underemployed, struggling artists, students, or simply those who live to perform, your generous donation is a helpful good deed that rewards good efforts. And it’s a tangible expression of gratitude for another’s positive outlook on life. Their small entertainment helps to make life beautiful.

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Put up a birdhouse.

If it’s a good deed to welcome new neighbors, perhaps it’s a good deed to welcome new flighty, feathered neighbors! Why not add more life and birdsong to your neighborhood (and your own home) by putting up a birdhouse?

For most, birds are a natural source of pleasure. The unique behaviors and vitality, the music, the flashing color, the soaring flight and amazing acrobatics–all provide joy to us earthbound featherless folks. A neighborhood alive with birds is a happier place to live.

Moreover, providing a family of birds with a safe and comfortable home is an act of kindness to our smaller and more fragile fellow creatures. Surely an act done out of kindness is a good deed.

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Welcome new neighbors.

This good deed is super easy!

Do you see a moving van on your block? Why not walk over and greet your new neighbor?

Most of us have moved at one time or another. The moving itself is stressful enough, but finding yourself surrounded by a crowd of strangers can feel chilly and uncomfortable. To feel like you belong–to feel like your new residence has truly become your home–requires a feeling of connection to the neighborhood.

So why not walk over to that moving van?

Your kind greeting will warm the home of your new neighbor.

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An honest “I’m sorry.”

In the comments concerning “Just a simple Thank You,” michelleatplay and Bren both point out that saying “I’m sorry” is a comparable good deed.

What an excellent observation!

It occurs to me that “I’m sorry” like “Thank you” is a public admission of humility. It is a bow to the person addressed.

In the case of “I’m sorry,” the acknowledgement that one did a wrong thing can be very difficult. The expression of remorse deepens the bow.

Not saying “I’m sorry” has a tendency to sour human relationships. Feelings of resentment and hurt grow on one side, and guilt and stubbornness on the other. Which is unfortunate. Because the majority of wrongs in life are small things that are magnified unnecessarily.

The lives of people shouldn’t be so clouded by hurt.

Saying “I’m sorry” often seems to work like magic. Hurt feelings vanish in a flash. Relief and compassion rush into the vacuum.

Saying “I’m sorry” is a good deed that ought to be very easy. We need to simply acknowledge our wrongs, and be sorry.

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Hold the elevator, or a door.

In the earlier post “Your memories of good deeds.” it is recounted how holding the elevator can improve another person’s day.

It seems to me that holding an elevator or a door, beyond being polite or helpful, is just a plain nice thing to do. For anyone, at any time. No complicated justification is required.

Simply being nice is a good deed.

That’s all.

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Save others from sidewalk poop.

Oh, no! Here comes one of my “pet” peeves! Prepare yourself for one of the most disgusting topics imaginable!

Stepping in dog poop.

I live in a neighborhood filled with condos and apartment buildings. And lots of folks who have dogs. And more than a few of those unconditionally loving pooches have sadly inconsiderate owners. How a person could be so thoughtless and not clean up after their dog aggravates me to no end. Don’t get me started.

Whenever I go for a walk, I must constantly check the sidewalk ahead of me. I’ve stepped in it more than once. Occasionally you’ll see a big doggie poop smear, where someone went for a slide. Good grief!

I used to just grumble about it. But I realized my grumbling accomplished nothing.

So now, when my inner grump is under control, and nothing else is handy, I use a nearby stick to flick poop to the edge of the sidewalk. I figure I might’ve saved some future fellow walker from a stinky catastrophe. A couple days ago I was walking home from 7-11 with a few items in a plastic bag. I used the bag to toss a poop into a trashcan. (Perhaps I should begin carrying a bag in my back pocket.)


It might not be the most saintly or pleasant of good deeds, but it is extremely easy!

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