Do Good, Feel Good

I’ve just started reading Gretchen Rubin’s book, The Happiness Project. One of her “Secrets of Adulthood” is Do good, Feel good. This is a concept that’s been around for ages, but it’s important to remind ourselves of the idea once in a while.

The fact is that when we do good for others, we feel better. It makes us happier people who then do more good. There are lots of ways to do good — you can find a charity you’re passionate about and donate time and/or money to it, you can take action by promoting a cause that’s important to you, you can do something as simple as holding a door for someone or giving a hug to friend.

Below are a few resources to get you started.

Charities/Nonprofits:

There are so many charity groups, it’s hard to know where to start. It can also be difficult to determine which charities are set up in such a way that your money will actually do some good for real people in need. I tend to focus on charities where there is some personal connection — I like to know someone either working for the charities, or someone promoting them.

Love146.org. Ending child sex slavery and exploitation. I wrote about Love146 the other day. It’s difficult to read about the atrocities committed against these young girls, but the work Love 146 is doing is amazing.

Charity: Water. Chris Guillebeau has recently partnered with this group to build wells in Africa. Without access to clean water, communities cannot begin to dig themselves out of poverty.

The Environmental Working Group. It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of this advocacy group. They conduct extraordinary studies and lobby Congress to promote real change for the safety of our products and our food.

Healthy Child, Healthy World. Another favorite here at Smart Family Tips. Healthy Child focuses all of their efforts on making the world a safer place for our children.

Find a Cause:

Visit Change.org to browse through a number of causes and click the links to take action. When taking action, you can send letters to Congress, among other things, right from the web site.

Go Local:

Find a homeless shelter or a nonprofit in your area that needs some help and volunteer your time. Volunteer Match is a good place to start if you’re unsure.

Get Personal:

Helping other people doesn’t require a formal organization. If you know of someone in need, help in any way you can. You can even help anonymously if you’re more comfortable doing it that way. Some ideas:

— If you know someone is really struggling financially, buy a gift card to a local grocery store or gas station. You can give the cards directly, or have them delivered anonymously.

— Cook a meal for someone who’s overwhelmed. Make sure to find out their tastes and any allergies they have before proceeding.

— Write a note to someone who’s been down lately.

— Tell someone you love them.

— Sign up at It Starts With Us to participate with a large group of others in “Weekly Missions” that provide you with lots of great ideas.

— Listen when someone needs to vent.

— Say nice things to others. When someone does something that impresses you, say so.

— Smile more. It makes both you and the people who come in contact with you happier.

How about you? How do you do good?

Featured Do-Gooder: TerraCycle

From time to time SmartFamilyTips will feature an organization that is a “Do-Gooder”: a group that works to help both people and the environment. The Do-Gooders may be companies, nonprofits, or any organized group that focuses its efforts on making the world a better place.

TerraCycle was born in 2001 by two Princeton University students, Tom Szaky and Jon Beyer. According to the company’s website, Szaky and Beyer wanted to create a company that “could be financially successful while being ecologically and socially responsible.” It all started with worm poop, a key ingredient in creating their first product: TerraCycle Plant Food™. Since its launch, they’ve created many more in several categories. A few of their lawn and garden products include:

One of their newer products is an 8″ planting pot made entirely from recycled e-waste. The pots come in an array of colors thanks to the work of inner city artists.

TerraCycle also makes Eco (and human) friendly cleaning products as well as office supplies and bags made from recycled bottles and wrappers.

One of the best things about TerraCycle is that they package all of their bottled products in used milk jugs and soda bottles.

Aside from their products, TerraCycle provides a great opportunity for individuals and companies to recycle items that are often not recyclable in their local area. They accept these items through their “Brigade” programs which are now accepting:

  • Cookie wrappers
  • Bear Naked bags
  • Toasted Chip wrappers
  • Drink pouches
  • Energy Bar wrappers
  • Corks

In some instances, TerraCycle will even donate money to a charity of your choice when you send them recyclables. Check out their site and let me know what you think. I’ve already signed up for the Cookie Wrapper Brigade and the Cork Brigade. TerraCycle couldn’t have made it easier.