Posts Tagged ‘service work’

Revitalizing Resolutions—Making a Commitment to Others

As we close in on the end of January…how are those resolutions going for you?

I don’t want to come from the jaded, pessimistic place of “Done and dusted—resolutions don’t work” that informs so many memes and conversations, but history and culture-following science and surveys show that by week three or four of January, most have fallen off the resolution wagon.

I can point you toward hundreds of coaches who will each tell you ways to stick to it and truly commit to yourself…but that’s not why we’re here together.

I would, however, like you to consider adding a resolution and re-committing to this one over and over.


  1. Exercise more
  2. Lose weight
  3. Get organized
  4. Learn a new skill or hobby
  5. Live life to the fullest
  6. Save more money/spend less money
  7. Quit smoking
  8. Spend more time with family and friends
  9. Travel more
  10. Read more

I love these—what amazing goals and intentions.

If you are recognizing yourself in one or more of these, congratulations on your engagement and commitment to improvement. I think it’s safe to say any one of these is worthy of your energy and attention and follow through.

I’d like to suggest we add an eleventh “TOP” resolution to the list (OK, I’ll admit, if we’re ranking, I’d like to push it to the number one spot on the list):


I like how Justice Sonia Sotomayor, when speaking of her new children’s picture book (Just Help! How to Build a Better World) says, “Every day, you can make a difference by helping someone. Each time you do, you become part of something bigger than yourself.”

This doesn’t have to be an earth-shifting change. You don’t need to sacrifice comfort or happiness or ease—just give up a slice of selfishness (and we are all selfish on several levels—not casting aspersions). OK, slight correction, because, in some ways, our selfishness does provide us comfort. So, you don’t need to shed it all, just commit a slice to someone or many others outside yourself.

We have concentric circles.

  • Self
  • Family
  • Home
  • Work and co-workers
  • Neighborhood
  • Community of place or activities (might also include spirituality and politics)
  • Those who share our identity definitions
  • National identity
  • And we can go on and on…species, resident of the planet, part of the galaxy, universe, etc.

Within those circles, it doesn’t take much to find someone to help. To show kindness. To connect. To be inspired by and to comfort. And, we all know, the person being of service ALWAYS gets more out of the exchange than the person being served.

There is so much to discover about claiming and fueling your power when you are of service. Each day, just finding a way. Asking yourself, “How and who can I help today?”

Hold a door. Tell someone you’re thinking of them. Give a compliment. Express gratitude. Make a choice or a change for the planet. Sign up for a volunteer gig. Mentor. Donate to a cause. Encourage someone. Pick up trash. Over-deliver what someone is expecting from you at work or home. Think added value. Say “I love you” first.

At the end of the day, being able to say, “Because of me…this, and I added more to the world than I took” is an incredible feeling.

We all want that. Each night. That.

1,000 Blog Posts. Thank You.

782884_90814676This is my one thousandth blog post on Change By Doing. That kind of hurts my head. It’s not a huge number for staffed blogs that have enormous international reach, but for me, as a one-man band, I’m not mad at that.

Thank you for reading. Thank you to those who have reached out and told me of actions they have taken in the world of volunteering and being of service. Thank you for the work you are doing, and for, at least occasionally, having priorities that intersect with mine. Thank you for disagreeing and showing me new perspectives. Going forward, I hope you’ll always feel welcome to interact, breathe more life into the conversation, ask questions, make requests, comment, and participate.

I’ve had remarkable opportunities to open some new dialogues with folks out there truly making a difference, and thus dial back to the place of finding ways to express my own stand. I’m always happy to grab nuggets from others that say the things I want to say, and here is one: from Timber Hawkeye and the website Buddhist Boot Camp. While his every word is not exactly from the same place where I am, this is very much the way I’ve felt of late:

I’m not against Monsanto, I’m pro-organic food. (Calm down.. keep reading! LOL). I’m not angry at meat-eaters, I choose to be vegan. I’m not against men and women getting married, but I see no reason why two women or men shouldn’t marry one another as well. You see, instead of bashing what I hate, I promote what I love instead. I don’t think large corporations are evil, I just try to support local businesses whenever I can. It’s that simple. I choose to operate from a place of love, not hate (it’s better for my health).

We’re not all activists in the rioting sense of the word, but we all vote with our wallets. We decide which companies get to stay in business and which do not. For example: Grocery stores in Hawaii will continue to sell mangoes that are imported from Ecuador (even though mangoes grow right there on the islands), so long as people in Hawaii keep buying those mangoes from Ecuador. It’s that simple.

It’s been said that anger is a good motivator to “do the right thing”, but so is compassion. Anger can sometimes blind us in our actions to a point where we’re so busy protesting AGAINST something (thereby giving it more energy and attention), that we’re actually disturbing the peace (not just around us, but within).

I’ve been accused of sticking my head in the mud to avoid seeing the injustice in the world, but my eyes are actually wide open… That’s why I can see the beauty in the world as well.

As Mother Teresa said, “If you invite me to an anti-war rally I won’t go. But if you invite me to a pro-peace rally, I’ll be there!”

Buddhist Global Relief Volunteers

663799_36496821There is so much that intrigues me, and so much I don’t know, about the various practices of Buddhism in this world. I’ve just recently learned of Buddhist Global Relief, an organization dedicated to the vision of a world where debilitating poverty has been banished; where everyone has access to food, clothing, housing, and healthcare; where all can achieve a satisfactory level of education; and where all are in harmony with our environment. Toward these ends, they specifically focus on chronic hunger and malnutrition by providing direct food aid, working toward better sustainability, promoting education of girls and women, and providing access to livelihood projects for women (which directly affect the food resources for families).

Those who want to be actively in support of BGR works can volunteer in roles like facebook page administrator, bookkeeper, web developer, graphic artist, and working directly on supporting projects around the world in partnership with existing community programs and resources in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Haiti, India, Malawi, Rwanda, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam (as well as domestic programs in New York City and Santa Clara County). There are also annual fundraising walk events in communities across the United States and internationally as well–most of them in the fall (several coming up quite soon).

If you’re feeling like it’s time to get in closer touch with active Buddhist compassion expressed through programs of social engagement, explore, delve, and dedicate.

Who Is Volunteering Where?


Ciera Russum, a member of the Advanced Construction team at YouthBuild Philadelphia Charter School. Photo:

Volunteering in America is a pretty darned comprehensive look at the way US citizens choose to donate volunteer hours, who does it most and least by state and city, trends for areas of focus and type of work, and much more exhaustive research about civic engagement than you and I are likely to ever read. Some of the major trends, however, are fascinating.

The most recent report, filed in 2011, details statistics through 2010. In it we learn that in the United States, 62.8 million of us volunteered that year, totaling nearly 8.1 billion volunteer hours, at a rate estimated at 173 billion dollars of volunteered time to the organizations that matter most to us. The top five states for volunteering were: Utah, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, and South Dakota. The number one large city was Minneapolis-St. Paul, and the top slot for mid-sized city was held by Provo, Utah. The largest category of volunteer work was service to religious institutions (35%), followed by education (26.7%), social services (14%), health (8.4%), civic (5.5%), and sports/arts (3.4%). “Other” made up a combined seven percent of American volunteers.

Generation X’ers upped their rate of volunteering, as they have been for a steady number of years. 17 percent of all of us volunteered mentoring youth, and another 18.5% tutored or volunteer taught. More than one quarter of us participated in volunteer fundraising efforts, and nearly another quarter of us collected, prepared, distributed, or served food.

4.4 million teenagers donated 377 million hours of volunteer time, and as is always the case across all ages, women out-perform men (36 million women volunteered compared to 26.8 million men).

We do OK. We can do more. Where has your time added to the pie charts and bar graphs, and do you imagine this year you will increase your volunteering, decrease, or pretty much stay the same? Add a comment below–let’s see what are up to as a community.