we've learned

Five Ways to Make a Difference Today

The post is all about happiness, which is something that’s on our minds a lot lately, and just generally all the time, because happiness is awesome.

As we often discuss here, a big component of happiness is gratitude. Those of us pursuing early retirement or any variation of financial independence have mucho to be grateful for. And how can we boost that happiness even more? By giving back in some way.

Seriously, if gratitude = happiness, turning that gratitude into action that helps others = super ultra mega happiness.

So today, a quick rundown of five ways you can make a difference. Not at some theoretical future date that we may never get around to, but right this very second.

OurNextLife.com // Five Things You Can Do TODAY to Make a Difference

Join the Bone Marrow Donor Registry — Many people in need of bone marrow transplants to treat their life-threatening cancers can’t find a donor with a matching tissue type. Sign up for the BeTheMatch registry in the U.S. or the OneMatch registry in Canada to increase the chances that seriously ill patients can get the transplants that may save their lives. There’s no obligation to do anything just because you’re on the registry, and the odds that you’ll match someone one day are low. But if more of us do this, many more people will have longer, healthier lives.

Give Blood — Every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood. Though there are still some ridiculous rules in place that prevent gay men from donating blood, most healthy people are able to donate every two months. Find a blood drive or make an appointment to give today via the American Red Cross or the Canadian Blood Services.

Help Cure Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s While You Sleep — Researchers at Stanford are searching for a cure for Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and many cancers through computational research that requires huge amounts of computing power. You can sign up at the Folding Project site (and download a piece of software) that lets them borrow your unused computing power while your computer sits unused. More than 80,000 people around the world are already participating.

Use Your Professional Skills to Help Nonprofits — We all have skillz we use at work that we could put to use for a good cause. Catchafire lets you match your skills with needs in the nonprofit sector — for example, designing a brochure or writing a business plan — all for worthy organizations helping to make the world better.

Volunteer — And, of course, there’s always getting out there and making a difference in your local community by volunteering. If you need inspiration, Volunteer Match can help you find organizations in your area that need your help.

…and one more bonus action… Be Kind. The world can be a hard place, so let’s all do our part to make it a little softer. That’s all. :-)


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23 replies »

  1. I love this list so much. I have a sign in my classroom that says, “Be good humans.” And usually their weekend homework is whatever diabolical work I’ve concocted plus a reminder to read, relax, and do good. So important!

  2. Love the guest post (and this one as well, of course).

    I find that we can always work on being kinder. The world could always use more kindness and there’s never a point where it makes sense to think “Well, I’m nice enough. I can stop now.”

    I like to donate a portion of each paycheck. My personal favorite right now is https://www.givedirectly.org/. Even if you can only donate a small amount of money, you can still make a big difference through efficient charities like Give Directly.

    • Thanks, Matt! I’m totally with you on kindness. The interesting thing is that research seems to suggest that lots of people do one good deed and then feel they’ve checked that box, like the study that showed that people who buy organic groceries behave like bigger jerks. Totally inexcusable, of course, but fascinating! And that’s so wonderful that you give from every paycheck! The world needs more people like you. :-)

  3. Congratulations on your guest post! I’m super excited for you! I love the super easy ways you came up with for us to contribute to our communities and the world.

    • Thanks, Liz! Glad you like the ideas! I know everyone has a million things going on, but these are all things that are easy lifts yet still make a difference. :-)

  4. Nicely put.

    The behavior of kindness interestingly came into play over the last couple of days for a couple of great bloggers in our FIRE community. The 1500 folks and the Millennial Revolution. The haters and naysayers were out in full force at Yahoo, CBC and CNBC. Just the first dozen or so comments on each of the reported stories were enough to make we want to scream.

    Whether we put ourselves out there in whatever media for all to see or we quietly go about our own business, it requires us to treat others as we would like to be treated. Healthy doses of respect, humility and kindness can never go wrong.

    • Those comments definitely make us not want to put our numbers out there or seek out media attention! But at least on the 1500 story on Yahoo, it seemed that most of the comments — at least the ones I saw — were more a complaint against Yahoo for writing a misleading headline, which was fair. They didn’t, in fact, save a million bucks in four years. But that says nothing of their completely legit accomplishment! But amen to everyone showing more kindness and humility online! So many people think they are experts for a range of quite puzzling reasons, or they just seem to want to cut others down. It’s sad!

  5. Congrats on being over at Cait’s! I was so excited to see you there! And these are some fabulous suggestions (many I did not know!).

    • Thanks, M! :-) I was super excited when she asked. And I’ve been wanting to share these suggestions for a while, so today gave a good opportunity! :-)

  6. I am actually a bone marrow donor. If any of y’all or your friends ever have questions about the process, please send them my way zeejaythorne at gmail.

    Being and doing good is so important as humans. I love asking people what their true goals are, and then connecting them to another person I know who can potentially send them on their way. It’s technically networking, but it mainly just feels like connecting folks and adding to the world volume of happiness.

    • Have you actually donated it??? Either way — donating it or being on the registry — that’s awesome. And it’s so admirable that you’re focused on increasing the total volume of happiness in the world. It’s easy to focus on our own happiness, but takes more effort to work on it for others, too. (Of course it doesn’t surprise me at all that you think this way!)

  7. I know I’m a little late to the punch here! Still working my way through the posts from the beginning :) Your guest post was wonderful-very honest and incredibly well worded. Loved it! We feel much the same. We love the mountains, the lakes, the trails and are constantly planning the next adventure. We live our lives in the city happily but always waiting for that next big trip to get out. Thanks for the reminder to fill our souls with happiness not just in the woods but in the city life too.

    • You definitely get a virtual medal if you make it through all of the posts. That is a huge undertaking, and I am touched that you find it worth your time. ;-) So glad the post struck a chord with you. It’s so easy to look for external things to make us whole, but of course the big factors always lie within us. And the good news is we take that with us wherever we go, whether it’s the city, the mountains or anywhere else. :-)