At this time of year, it’s hard not to think about making a long list of New Year’s resolutions. Usually it’s the same ol’, same ol’ on everyone’s goal list: lose weight, eat healthier, exercise more often, spend more time with your kids, become more financially secure.
While many of these goals are important, and even life-changing, there’s one goal we could all work on — and fairly easily, too — and that is simply becoming a better person. It doesn’t necessarily take a lot of money or a lot of effort, but there are small ways to make a difference in someone’s life.
Here are 10 ways to become a better person in 2015.
While most people with pets cherish this time to spend with their furry friend, some days the chore becomes a bit of a burden, especially for the elderly and single parents. While you’re out walking your dog, or if you’re just in need of some fresh air and exercise, offer to walk your neighbor’s dog, too. It will help lighten his or her load, and for that he or she will be grateful.
The next time you run out to the corner store for milk, or you make a big shopping trip, ask nearby family, friends or neighbors if you can pick up anything for them, too. This is particularly helpful for elderly neighbors who may not be able to drive as easily these days. Again, this is just another item on everyone’s to-do list, and pitching in for someone in need will make you feel like you can cross two items off your list!
If your workload is on the light side, but you can see your coworker is swamped, ask if he or she needs a hand. Do copies need to be made? Some light filing? Proofreading a presentation? It’s likely your coworker will be happy that you’ve just made the offer, or will be happy to return the favor one day, too.
You’ve heard of people doing this while in line at the coffee shop, and it’s a simple gesture that most of us can afford. Pay it forward to the stranger in line behind you, and they will smile all day thanks to your generosity.
We all have those days when nothing seems to go right, so the next time you’re shopping at the mall and you see an employee struggling with a table full of sweaters in disarray, take a minute to help her fold a few. Or if you’re picking up groceries and a stocker has spilled canned goods down the aisle, help him pick them up. Little things like this go a long way.
Most states and cities have literacy councils set up and are always in need of volunteers to help people of all ages learn to read. Tutors are needed for school age children, but also adults and people for whom English is not their native language. Simply Google “literacy” plus your state or city name to see resources in your area.
Big Brothers Big Sisters has chapters in states across the United States, and volunteers are always needed to develop a relationship with a young boy or girl. The commitment generally involves seeing that child approximately once a month, and activities that cost little to no money, such as a walk in the park or craft projects, are encouraged.
Check out your local Humane Society to see if they need volunteers to walk animals or help with administrative or cleaning duties at local pounds. They may even need help collecting pet food, blankets and toys, and you can easily set up a drive for such items at your office or place of worship.
Most towns, small and large, have programs to help feed the hungry, whether with large soup kitchens or through food banks at various places of worship. People are always needed to prepare and serve food, or organize and hand out groceries.
It doesn’t take much to make a much-needed contribution to a cause that’s important to you. Take whatever you can afford — a quarter a day, a dollar a day — and save it somewhere in your home. When you’ve collected an amount you’re happy with, make a donation in the name of someone you love. You could also plan to do a walk or run, on your own, and ask family and friends to add to your donation by contributing so-much per mile. Voila! Your very own charity race. Don’t think because you can’t write a $100 check right away today that you can’t contribute; just take your time!