Tag Archives: doing good

The Effect Of Not Doing: When We Don’t Take Action

Every action taken affects the whole as greatly as every action NOT taken.

Life is sculpted on a moment-to-moment basis. Every one of the thoughts we think, the words we speak, and the actions we take contributes to the complex quality and character of the universe’s unfolding. It simply is not possible to be alive without making an impact on the world that surrounds us. Every action taken affects the whole as greatly as every action not taken. And when it comes to making the world a better place, what we choose not to do can be just as important as what we choose to do.

For example, when we neglect to recycle, speak up, vote, or help somebody in immediate need, we are denying ourselves the opportunity to be an agent for positive change. Instead, we are enabling a particular course to continue unchallenged, picking up speed even as it goes along. By holding the belief that our actions don’t make much of a difference, we may find that we often tend to forego opportunities for involvement. Alternatively, if we see ourselves as important participants in an ever-evolving world, we may feel more inspired to contribute our unique perspective and gifts to a situation.

It is wise to be somewhat selective about how and where we are using our energy in order to keep ourselves from becoming scattered. Not every cause or action is appropriate for every person. When a situation catches our attention, however, and speaks to our heart, it is important that we honor our impulse to help and take the action that feels right for us. It may be offering a kind word to a friend, giving resources to people in need, or just taking responsibility for our own behavior. By doing what we can, when we can, we add positive energy to our world. And sometimes, it may be our one contribution that makes all the difference.

Trust This World

A line from one of Swami Vivekananda’s speeches has always disturbed me. In it, he says, that there is an equal balance of good and bad in this world at any given time. So it makes absolutely no difference what good you do, because it will be balanced by someone doing something bad in some other corner of the world. But that this is the principle of harmony and order the world follows.

I read the words to this effect over a decade ago, but it’s this year – 2011 – that I begin to understand them.

When we begin a spiritual journey, we begin with a certain amount of spiritual motivation – to change the world, to be an example, and to be what we want to see in the world. This is a necessary part of the journey, and not all of it is misplaced enthusiasm. A lot of good is done in this world by people who are driven by a self-belief that it is their mission to make a difference. Yet, in it, is the implication, that somehow we know better. 

And yet, we forget, that the world – in the infinite wisdom of the Creator – is a complex system of checks and balances. That justice exists in nature. That just as an earthquake of a certain intensity must and inevitably will create a corresponding displacement of water in a tsunami on the other side somewhere. You’d think we would have figured out by now, with all our technology, that that same principle of justice works across the board – in our families, in our actions, in our morals. 

Why then, do we feel cheated, robbed and short-changed? Why do we feel ‘others prosper when I work so hard’ or ‘no matter what I do it doesn’t seem to be enough’. 

1. Because our time frames are not lifespans but soulspans. In the duration of the existence and unfolding of  your soul, justice is done. That may be one lifetime, that may be more…. but what do people who don’t believe in karma or rebirth do then? 

2. Justice perceived is not necessarily justice. our concepts of justice are so subjective that we go by feeling, instinct and what is apparent. Justice that is deeper, with roots in the Truth is doled out at a much higher level. In my experience when Justice is done, even it is many years later, it always gives you the awareness of what you are getting it back for. You know. Even if you never let on – you always know if you are being punished or blessed and why.

What makes us think we are here to change the world? If you look at the cleansing the world has gone through in 2010 alone – and its an impact most of us have felt in our personal lives as well with some relationships ending, beginning anew, faded torn friendships fading away and other ties to associations becoming stronger – is that not evidence enough that the Truth, no matter how many years it is buried for, eventually comes to light? Whether it’s Wikileaks, the Radia Tapes in India, Bofors, or the multiple scams that beset countries and organisations, when has Wrong ever gotten away with it? Wrong that has been done eventually gets undone.

Even if Justice does not seem to have been served by a judge or a jury or by public opinion, in any of these cases, they do not seem to form the system that counts in the long run. The system in place is an eventual restoration of harmony in the world. Some cultures call it Yin and Yang, but if you send a ripple out in the world you will, in all probability meet with an equal and opposite reaction. It’s as simple as a law of Physics. This is the principle of cosmic harmony. This is why all of us, even inadvertently, harm someone, and are harmed in some small way in return.

Self-flagellation and goals like ‘the eradication of all poverty, hunger, anger, ill-will’ (to me) now seem idealistic and impractical. Im working towards not looking at someone’s anger (for example) as the ultimate expression of evil in that person, but as, well, anger. When you see it for what it is, it diminishes in value. Their anger  could be a leaf, a flower or a stone in this world for all that matter: it is a thing of this world. That’s it. It is so much easier then to take it for granted, ignore it, or move it out of your way. The trouble begins when we worry over it, view it from various angles and try to ‘change’ it.

Every religious text tells you apparent evil has its place – to act as a counter to good. How would Jesus have been resurrected without someone to nail Him to the cross? Who would know of Ram, if He hadn’t a Ravan to destroy? Sometimes, and I am not recommending Evil as a career option, the evil we encounter in the world has its place and has a right to be there as much as we, with our good intentions, do. It is Act 3 in a 5-act play.

And I’m not saying don’t try. Try. Apologise, do good, give. But don’t beat yourself up if what you do doesn’t give you the result you want or are looking for. Justice and Good is as inevitable as Injustice and Failure. Go back to page 1 of the play where they list the characters of the play: you may not be the lead, you may be supporting cast, you may even be villain. Its okay. Play your role. Let it go.   

To me, 2011 is not about changing the world. Its about finally understanding what Swami Vivekananda said two centuries ago: The world was here first. Whatever I presume I can teach it, it knows. Best, I find a way to know what it has to teach me. I will not be the change I hope to see in the world. I will just be. And hope the world sees the change in me.

SELF Honors Real Women for Doing Good (And What You Can Do, Too!)

A while back, we asked SELF’s readers to nominate hometown heroes for SELF’s Women Doing Good awards. 

We received mountains of nominations (our readers never cease to impress us!) describing amazing women doing wonderful things to make our world a better place. Recognizing the remarkable efforts of superstars Beyoncé and Minka Kelly, SELF editors first tapped these two inspiring celebrities. Then, after much deliberation and debate, we finally selected three amazing hometown heros, all featured in our September issue. 

Bonus: How the stars give back–including our latest cover girl… Beyoncé!

We were so inspired by their work that we donated $10,000 to each of their causes. 

Read all about them, get inspired, and get involved:


Forty-one year old Phoenix-native Lisa Scarpinato and her husband started Kitchen on the Street after learning that children in their town were starving on weekends (when they don’t have access to free school lunches). Through her non-profit, more than 300 needy kids are sent home on Fridays with backpacks full of food.

Take it from her: "Don’t make assumptions. There are folks who show up at food banks in very nice cars, but what you can’t know is they may be living in those cars."

Get involved: Learn more at kitchenonthestreet.org 

Get instant food analysis and tweak your diet with our new Nutrition Data tool


When JJ Ramberg learned how much money search engines make, the 39-year-old host of MSNBC’s Your Business decided she had to figure out a way to divert some of the cash to charitable causes. Thus, Goodsearch.com was born. Go to the Yahoo!-powered site, choose from more than 90,000 causes, then search away. Every search equals more money for your favorite charity. So far, it has raised tens of thousands of dollars for charities such as the ASPCA and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

Take it from her: "You don’t need extra money, energy, or even time to make a difference. All you need is a computer and a heart."

Get involved: Edit your Internet browser preferences to set Goodsearch.com (or its sister site, Goodshop.com) as your homepage.

More women who wow us–from Reese to Ellen!


After being teased and cyber-bullied as a kid throughout middle school, 15-year-old Haley Kilpatrick launched Girl Talk, a mentoring program that pairs high school and middle school girls. Through their talks and friendship, they realize that they’re not alone in their struggles and their "mentor" teaches them how to deal when things do get rough. Now 24, Kilpatrick continues to head-up the cause, which has helped more than 32,000 girls in 39 states navigate the crazy ups-and-downs of adolescence. 

Take it from her: "Girls have to come together and talk so each one can realize it’s not just her having a rough time. I wish I’d known that."

Get involved: Click here to learn more about the cause–starting a new chapter in your area is easy!

Build your own workout! Exercise kick-starts motivation! And, you never know … next year you could be one of our Women Doing Good!

PHOTO (cc): Flickr / rogiro


No, This is Not Bizarro World: Do Good For The Planet And Get Free Stuff Via ActBolder.Com

Dude, I am so doing this.

Originally spotted on the GOOD website, ActBolder.com is a new website with a very simple premise: do an action that does good for the planet, and get free stuff.

An example of this? If in the next two days you wash your clothes in the cold / cold cycle and log into the community to share that you did it, you win a 20 percent discount off your next purchase from Seventh Generation.

Past challenges to the community have included: eat organic, say no to disposable grocery bags, get sweaty, discover your local CSA. Prizes for doing such actions have included discounts to yoga classes, a whole pound of apples from Whole Foods, free pass to an Equinox gym, and more.

Pretty sweet deals for just doing a little good in this world.

ActBolder.com is certainly placing a lot of trust in its community of do-gooders, as the reported actions of the community are on an honor-system of trust that these challenges were actually completed. Nonetheless, it’s a win-win situation for both businesses and consumers. Businesses get free advertising and new customers in a niche customers of conscious consumers, said cosumers get a cool freebie for making that extra effort to do something good.

So what are you waiting for? Sign up for the next challenge that benefits your community and the planet, and get some free stuff. And tell your family and friends to do it, too. Heck, make a game of it among your buddies.

I am hoping that enough of us do this, maybe this business paradigm will take off and encourage a high-end version of the ActBolder model where the millionaires, A-list celebrities, and politicians of the world are lured to do good via freebies that cater to the rich folk.

Buy 1 get 1 free vintage Versace dress for tweeting about a charity event? Free yacht repairs for following through at least 50 percent of your campaign promises? Bring it on.

The Greater Cause: Some Good Reasons for Doing Good

With all that takes place in our lives, it can sometimes be easy to overlook the fact that we’re part of something greater than ourselves—a collective consciousness, the Universe, a greater cause. Because of our tendency to forget this, we might make decisions in our lives that don’t reflect that responsibility that comes with this belonging. All too often, we focus just on the short-term, tangible gain to ourselves without worrying about its consequences. Other times, we may discard the greater cause because it seems like “hard work.” The challenge is to expand our minds so that we transcend the distinction between self and others, so we are aware of how our choices and actions can impact a greater cause.

Contributing to the greater cause doesn’t have to be all about self-sacrifice. For example, if you plant a tree in a community space, its shelter will cool and protect you as well as your neighbors. Or, your reward might be in the form of the beauty that you now see in that space or the sincere smiles of appreciation from neighbors. When you serve the greater cause you also serve your greater good. There is nothing that you cannot do for your highest good that will not benefit the good of all. For example, saying no to a relationship that isn’t right for you not only benefits you but serves the greater good of the other person that you are honoring with your honesty. Saying yes to your dream job not only fulfills you but also serves the people that will benefit from your enthusiasm and productivity.

When you know you are serving a greater cause, there is little room for fear and doubt. You know that what you do will benefit others, so there is no way the universe is not going to support your efforts – even if sometimes it may not look that way. Serving the greater cause allows you to live from the space of your greatness. When you know that what you do can serve a greater cause, you are aware of your power and ability to influence and create change in this world.


For more inspiration, visit DailyOM.

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