Throw Away Other People’s Trash, or, How to Boost Your Self-Esteem

I’m working on my Happiness Project, and you could have one, too! Everyone’s project will look different, but it’s the rare person who can’t benefit. Join in — no need to catch up, just jump in right now. Each Friday’s post will help you think about your own happiness project.

The subject of self-esteem is a topic that has generated a fair amount of controversy over the last few decades, but one thing seems clear: you don’t get healthy self-esteem from constantly telling yourself how great you are, or even from other people telling you how great you are. You get healthy self-esteem from behaving in ways that you find estimable.

In other words, the best way to feel better about yourself is to do something worthy of your own respect: keep a difficult resolution, meet a challenge, solve a problem, learn a skill, cross something unpleasant off your to-do list. And one of the best ways to feel better about yourself is to help someone else — do good, feel good.

I had a friend who went through a period of tremendous rejection: she was fired from her job, she didn’t get into the graduate program to which she’d applied, and her boyfriend broke up with her. Everything worked out fine in the end, and I asked her how she got through such a tough time. She said, “I was practically addicted to doing good deeds for other people. It was the only way I could make myself feel like I wasn’t a total loser.”

I recently performed a very small action that gave me a big boost: throwing away other people’s trash. I’ve always been careful to throw away my own litter, but it never occurred to me to do anything about random litter lying around.

The other day, though, I was in the subway, where an empty Snapple bottle was rolling around to the great annoyance of everyone in the car. The bottle rolled back and forth, back and forth, and I thought, “Someone should pick that up.” Then I thought – “Someone like me! Why shouldn’t I be the one to pick it up?” So I did.

I was astonished by the surge of good feeling I got, quite disproportionate to such a minor action. I also thought I could feel a palpable wave of approval from the other people on the subway – which I was probably projecting, but which also shows the effect that my tiny good deed had on me.

Since then, I’ve looked for chances to throw away other people’s trash. In a coffee shop, I threw away the coffee cup someone left on a table. I threw away a plastic cup that was rolling down the sidewalk. Etc.

So try it yourself; throw away someone else’s trash. “Do good, feel good” is a happiness truism that really is true. Act like a thoughtful citizen of the world, and you’ll boost your self-esteem. Plus, obviously, it’s the right way to behave.

Have you found ways to incorporate small good deeds into your everyday life? For example, I know many people make an effort to be a considerate driver.

* If you’re interested in psychology research, a terrific new resource is Generally Thinking.

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  • Throwing away other people’s trash is a good deed, no doubt. Kudos to you, Gretchen. However, I find myself getting disgusted when I do it, because I think how rude or lazy someone else was to litter or leave their trash lying around for someone else to pick up after them.

  • LivewithFlair

    I love this! So true. Today I considered the power of completing the “tiny chore.” Breaking apart mammoth tasks into their smallest division makes it possible to do so much! You have energy, power, and self-esteem just from completing that tiny chore. It’s activation energy and fuel for the day. http://livewithflair.blogspot.com/

  • Personally, I dig paying other peoples’ tolls. It never fails that paying for the car behind me as well as my own toll always makes me feel good, no matter the time of year.

  • Janice

    Living in a high rise I find holding the elevator for others is a nice way to brighten someone’s day. Like holding door’s open for people it is a small gesture that people really appreciate. I know I appreciate it a lot when the elevator door is open and a friendly person inside is waiting for me to join them.

  • jww1066

    I try to follow the rule that “if you think that SOMEONE should do something, that means YOU should do it”. And if someone tries to get me to do something I don’t care about, I’ll use that rule on them and tell them to do it themselves. 😉

    I wouldn’t discount a couple of more basic reasons this act made you happy.

    1. The bottle was annoying you, and when you picked it up it could no longer annoy you.
    2. Picking up litter is something that you think makes you a good person, in your own eyes and in the eyes of others.
    3. You are a closet neat freak. 😉

    James

  • Mikefixac

    I live in a commuity that has home owner fees. The only benefit we receive as far as I can see is they cut the grass in the common areas.

    For some reason, they don’t pick up the trash laying around.

    So when I walk my dog, I make a point of picking up the garbage.

  • rgg

    Hi Gretchen
    This is a great post. What I have learned in my life is that the best way to help ourselves out of an adversity is to look beyond ourselves and look at the situations of another. Is there a way to help someone else who is experiencing the same problem or something worse? Can we offer a kind word,or a shoulder to cry on with someone who is(seemingly) worse off? In this case,throwing away someone else’s trash. It seems symbolic of while helping others by voluntering to throw their trash away,then ones trash is thrown out also. I found this Bible verse in the New Testament that helps me to keep the attitude of holding on even if the odds seem against me,I can help my self by helping others.

    Galatins6:9Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
    10Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

  • Maura

    I hate when public and restaurant restrooms look like monkeys visited for a paper party. So typically I take less than :30 to pick up the offending paper, toss it properly and then wash my hands thoroughly! Happened the other night at a fancy pantsy place – very lucky for them that I stopped by!! 😉

    • oneblueeye

      I have this habit too — and once it paid off! The hostess came in & “caught” me tidying up and comped our meal!

  • Cute idea! I have done that before too, and funny as it sounds, it does feel like you are helping. 🙂

  • That’s such a good idea! I often see trash in the subway and around the city, and feel a surge of disapproval toward the person who dropped it, and the fact that no one has picked it up.

    Picking it up myself is the perfect solution! We can’t depend “someone else” to do all our dirty work for us. I think it shows we care about our surroundings when we take the time to make them better.

  • Gwyneth

    Hold the door open for someone else, regardless of their gender, physical capabilities, or anything else you might think about them.

  • Debra

    When I was unemployed for 4 months, it helped me a lot to regularly pick up gabage where I lived. I had an orange long-handled “grabber” that I had inscribed with “picking up good karma.” This was truly dreadful time in my life and garbage collecting was one saving grace. I’m going to start doing it again.

  • Great idea. I’ve been doing this for a few months now, and it always makes me feel good. I recently found a really trashy riverbank while out walking the dogs and I’m planning to return there for more walks until the place is gleaming 🙂

    P.S. I love jww1066’s rule: “if you think that SOMEONE should do something, that means YOU should do it”

  • Tracymoo2002

    To paraphrase Jewish scholars: if not you, then who? If not now, then when? Good for you!!
    This is actually something I taught my son at an early age. I would take him to a local park to play, but before he could do that, we walked around and picked up as much trash as we could. (I carried bags for the purpose.) Then we’d go to the restroom to clean up, then we’d PLAY!
    He still picks up random trash in coffee shops and off the street. This is just one way he makes me proud! Nice to know the parenting paid off :>)

  • lemead

    Love this. One of the first things I noticed about my now best friend, when I met her years ago as freshmen at college, was that she picked up trash and threw it away. I do it now too, as do my kids, and I love the way that small gestures like that can have huge impact.
    Thank you!

    • gretchenrubin

      Another idea for a very small but thoughtful gesture: I was with a friend,
      we had a camera, and a woman offered to take our picture together. It was so
      nice — I always hate to ask, so really appreciate that she offered. My next
      resolution!

  • Joe

    Wow! Where to start?!

    I luv it when someone takes the time to hold the door for me when my hands are full. Can’t tell you how often I’m leaving the grocery store and need a little help with that door. No it’s not automated…I shop in the little stores to support local business.

    I always pick up after my dog…yeah it’s messy, but I don’t want to step in it, so why leave it for others to step in?! Now I do draw the line of picking up after all the other dog owners (or is that dogs and not the owners)?

    By picking up their *stuff* how is that teaching them anything? I just ask them if they need bag? That ussually prompts the picking up.

    I’ll quit now while I’m ahead.

    Living Life By Design
    http://www.joegriffith.me

  • Jennilmann

    My husband and I make a point to return stray shopping carts to the cart corral or to grab a cart from someone who is walking it to the corral and push it in to the store for our own use. It not only saves our own car from getting dinged with a stray cart, but it always makes people smile when we save them a trip to the corral. Something about it makes us feel great!

    Awesome post, Gretchen. What if everyone took a moment to do somethign small? What a world we would live in…

  • The quote “do good, feel good” really resounded with me. We so often look for superficial ways to “find” happiness, but if you just start acting and doing good, happiness will find you! So simple!

    Thanks,
    Cailen
    writer, blogger, author

  • rachel

    Always say thank you to cashiers and shop assistants, and smile. Ditto to receptionists.

    Refill the office printer and photocopier when they run out of paper.

    Chat with squirrelly children for a minute while their parents unload the cart at the grocery store or load the washing machine at the laundromat– a lot of parents appreciate this.

  • I just had a baby, and when I go out with her, people who hold the door open for me or let me through an aisle just make my day. So, whenever I have the chance to help out someone with kids, I always do so because now I know what a struggle it is to carry a heavy baby carrier, diaper bag, etc… and navigate a store.

  • Kathryn

    I have done this very thing Gretchen! I wanted to get involved in doing something positive in my community but felt overwhelmed at the searching it out, signing up, scheduling, etc. so instead I began to bring an empty trash bag with me to the beach each time (I live only a few blocks away so we go often). I spend twenty minutes or so picking up trash that would otherwise end up in the ocean. I feel great about it and interestingly I feel more optimistic about the world in general when I do it. And like you, I feel an almost palpable feeling of approval from others when they see what I’m doing. Also….there is the good influence effect. Hopefully that’s happening too.

  • One other very good reason to pick up trash. Litter attracts more litter. By cleaning one one small area, you make it less likely that the next person to come along will also litter.

    I do this in the restroom all the time. If the stall I am in has TP strewn on the floor, I pick it up and throw it out (assuming the strewn TP is not wet or otherwise stained).

    This leaves the stall looking fresh, and encourages the next person coming in to leave it that way too, not make it worse.

  • menopausalentrepreneur

    I totally agree with this! All annoyance goes away when you decide to just pick up the trash. I live in a community with rules that dogs’ “droppings” must be picked up. However, some people forget those rules. When I’m walking my dog, I’ll pick up any other droppings that I find. Gross, yes, but I think of the kids who run around on these lawns. It makes me feel better, and then people can’t complain about the dogs in the neighborhood.

  • This is so funny because just on Wed. while staying outside the yoga studio with several other people I was looking at this plastic thing floating around in front of us. I thought the same thing. “Why doesn’t someone pick it up?” Then I decided I would do it. When I got back from the trash can the lady beside me said, “You are such a good Samaritan. I was thinking to myself someone should pick that up but I didn’t. Good job.” Odd how often so many can think the same thing but so few are doers. I’m trying to be more of a doer.

  • actuary

    Once I was in the Boston subway with a friend. She was eating a yogurt. When she finished, she looked around for a garbage can. There were none. So she left the yogurt container on the platform against the wall. I was aghast.

  • I think Karma keeps score so the little good deeds add up.

    I was a cub Scout for a while, so I think I still have some credits in the bank.

  • I think self esteem is a really interesting topic and one which at times as a therapist is unhelpful because there is always an element of comparison in it. I think that self acceptance is a far better concept becuase its about accepting that I get it right and get it wrong, that at times I am nice and at times I’m not but that all those bits are facets of who I am and it’s OK to be me.

    • Leslie

      I like this idea of self-acceptance rather than self-esteem. Talking about my self-esteem always makes me feel like I have to think I’m a good person and triggers my perfectionist tendencies. Self-acceptance, on the other hand, is like you said, sometimes I’m right, sometimes I’m wrong. I have faults and good qualities and that’s ok. Also, I think it’s important to note that accepting those things about myself doesn’t mean I can’t strive to be better – it just means I don’t need to beat myself up for not being perfect.

  • Steph

    I totally agree about litter. I should tell you first that I don’t live in the US. When I was a little girl in the early 1970s we had a campaign on tv about picking up litter. I still do it to this day as a result of that campaign!

    Something I did this week that I feel really, really good about is hire a French tutor for the indefinite future. I had hired one very temporarily (over the summer), but I had a replacement tutor on Thursday who I realized needed help. She is a new immigrant, her husband left her, she only has a part-time work contract…she needs the money. She seems to enjoy the conversation, and I like helping someone out without having to embarrass them and offer a cash gift. I did thee latter recently with a woman of about the same age and it seemed to be very humiliating for her to accept money from a stranger. So, I shall pretend that I am a little Parisian all year!

  • greenmama

    Just yesterday there was a giant Costco shopping cart turned on it’s side in the middle of the parking lot. Everyone kept walking and driving around it. I said the same thing in my head “someone should really move that out of the way!” And so there I was, in a puddle, in the drizzling rain turning this cart right side up (which was waaaay harder than I expected) and eventually getting it to the proper place, out of the way. As I was pulling it up the sidewalk an older man (probably in his 70’s) helped me with the last yard or two. It felt good 🙂

  • It DOES feel good to throw away others’ trash! Thank you for the reminder of such an easy way to boost yourself. Doing things for others has never been a weak area of mine, but I think this posting spurs on the important underlying experience of how you’re being when you’re helping out. It’s where your mind is at that makes the difference. Thanks for the thoughts!

  • Robyn

    The best way to feel better about yourself is to do something worthy of your own respect.

    That really hit home w/ me. What a true statement and great way to think about self-esteem.

    Good Post and lots of great comments. It is comments like these that help us realize that there are good and caring people everywhere.

  • Great post and great tips–picking up litter, holding doors, paying for others’ tolls and “parking” the shopping carts in the grocery store lot. I do it, too. And I know happy I am when my daughter tidies up “my” dishes in the kitchen sink or cleans the tub! Such a small thing, but I am so grateful!

  • Elizabeth

    Along those same lines, the other day I was out shopping, and when I went to park, there was a stray shopping cart blocking part of a space. I managed to squeak my SUV into the space past it, grumbling about people that can’t bother to take carts back to their proper location. Then I realized, “Hey, I’m ‘people’!”. I gathered up not just that one cart, but 2 others that were meandering around the parking lot like lost cattle, herded them together, and guided them up to the store on my way in. It felt so good! 🙂

  • TW

    I have been throwing away other’s trash for along time. I also pick up merchandise lying on the floor whenever I shop. I hope others see it and think about doing it themselves because we all benefit. If the store has to mark down a soiled or ruined new article, then it has to make up that loss of revenue, resulting in higher prices we all pay. Pick up that shirt on the floor and save us all some money!

  • Mzdori

    I go to a fabulous dog park almost daily. It is located on the San Francisco Bay. It is so uplifting to see the dogs playing & swimming in the Bay. I view it as my park and therefor take pride in keeping it beautiful. To that end I clean up after my dog and I also make an effort to clean up after other dogs as well. I don’t really care why the poops don’t all get cleaned up by the owners of the dogs that left them. I just want my park to stay nice and it does make me feel good to know that I am making that effort.

  • Warren

    Many thanks for the link Gretchen!

  • What I like about this particular blog article is that it covers a three things in my mind. 1) Is that it it discusses that no matter how life seems to throw us twists and turns that we can always find a way to survive if we look for a solution that h as meaning to us. I’m so happy your friend was able to find a productive way of handling things. I’ve had friends who get depressed about not being able to find a job or are single.We need to focus on our ability to do wonderful things for people. Again if we focus on the positive, we act in a positive manner. Clearly stated in the Happiness Project. (Which by the way if anyone that is reading this comment and hasn’t bought the book yet…you definitely need to buy it. I’ve read it twice.) 2) Even though I never say it to other people when I see them do kind deeds. I’m grateful for the people that do small acts of kindness. The other day I was in a park where a gentleman who didn’t look like a government employee was cleaning up litter. I thought to myself how grateful I am that there are such wonderful strangers in my life to help out with this.3) Set ourselves up to feel good by having small victories. I think it’s great to have big goals. They are needed to propel us forward. I ended up writing a book and I feel great about it. But what can often happen to me is that if I don’t set myself up to win, I can get upset at myself. So now I’ve learned to set myself up to win to reinforce that what I’m doing is great. If I get one person buying my book, that makes me feel good. If I got a person to link to my article to me that’s a win. I think we set up so many rules to lose that it’s hard to increase our self esteem. We need to ease them up without forgetting the bigger picture so our self esteem rises through the roof.Vincent Ng Conversation Artshttp://www.conversationarts.com

  • Michael Melcher

    Hi Gretchen,

    Love this post.

    A few years ago, I was walking down Central Park West in my neighborhood. There were newspapers blowing around. I made eye contact with an African woman who was walking nearby me. She leaned over and picked up the newspapers.

    “I love this city,” she said, as she deposited the papers in the trash. Then she explained she lived in Ohio.

    I thought, “I love this city, too. I love it soooo much.”

    So she connected me with my own desire to do these things. I think of her often. When people do these kinds of civic-minded things, you never know who might be inspired.

    Michael

  • Lizzie

    On my daily walks with my dog, I pick up the bottles and cans constantly strewn around my neighborhood and take them home to recycle. I started doing it for the pull tabs on the pop cans for a craft project, but I couldn’t just take the tab and leave the can — that felt too much like I was contributing to the trash rather than alleviating. Then I remembered how I used to take a plastic bag with me to school during grade seven and eight to pick up trash on my walk home and I felt like I had somehow returned to my roots. Now I call it my Miss Rumphius act, in honor of Barbara Cooney’s picture book.

  • Karenn

    Another suggestion would be to leave those little bars of soaps you always collect in hotels somewhere they would be of use – i.e in a public toilet where there is no soap dispenser.

    Also if I have a car park ticket with some time left on it I like to leave it at the machine or give it to someone else. This is because there has been a few times when I have been in a rush to get to the shops but have no change so I know how annoying it is when this happens. Some people seem to worry about who will benefit from this help and whether they are worthy as maybe they are just trying to save paying for a ticket but I dont think that matters.

  • Great post Gretchen!

    Another good deed that has become popular in my community is the Drive Through Difference – basically, when you get your coffee or whatever on your commute in, you pay for the person behind you as well. Even those who are in dire financial straights have a few dollars to give, and when you’re hurting financially, being generous with your money can actually make you feel better about it. After all, there’s always someone who is worse off than you are, and it’s a good thing to remember.

    I have had someone do this for me (it’s how I found out about the campaign, actually) and since it happened I’ve made a point to do it for others. I was having a really, really horrible day the day that someone bought my breakfast, and the fact that a random stranger did it out of the blue really restored my faith in the innate goodness of humanity.

    Another good deed that is really easy is keeping a bit of dog or cat food in the trunk of your car. I live in a rural area where strays tend to gather at gas stations, and it is nice to have something to feed hungry strays if you aren’t in a position to take them in (whether they are too feral for human contact or whatever). I’ve taken one off the highway, but I can’t take them all. Being able to put a bit of food out for them when I see them makes me feel better.

  • Bobcooper

    I can’t just exercise for its’ own sake—there has to be another purpose. If there’s a store where I need to purchase something which is within a reasonable biking distance (45-60 minutes, round trip) I’ll bike if I have the time. When I walk for exercise several mornings each week through my neighborhood and on an adjacent bike/walking path I wear throw-away gloves and collect trash.

    Bob

  • Fiona

    I was rejected by my family members and that upset me a lot. I did a soul searching of what life meant inspite of being good. I began to look within my soul. I started sending out positive affirmations to all those who have hurt me. Now all those hurt feelings do not disturb me. I have discovered my inner self. I have started creating my own happiness project. Now there is no one to disturb me.

  • Lynnel

    Going through a rough time financially (my husband is starting a new business) it has become important for me to pass along my shopping cart at a store where they charge .25 cents (refundable) to use. Seeing people’s faces light up as a hand over a cart and tell them not to worry about the 25 cents makes me feel like Bill Gates donating millions!!

  • Abby

    Enjoy the trash comments – we occasionally do that too along our bike path and it does feel good.

    Other small good deeds I try to do is to offer colleagues a special thanks when they do a good job at something. I send a note or email or call them and it usually makes their day. I’m going to try and do that more on the homefront too.

    I don’t know why, but I’ve had someone pay for my order in the drive thru and it kind of freaked me out. Who are they? Am I supposed to know that car? Why are they paying? It didn’t make me feel comfortable at all as the receiver.

  • KChristy

    My father has been doing this for as long as I can remember! Whether it was in front of our house, in the street or in a public place he couldn’t help himself. I didn’t understand it until I started doing it myself when I moved out on my own. It’s really addicting. My husband works for the Boyscouts, and one thing he always stresses is to “leave a place better than you found it”. It really does make a difference on your happiness!

    Gretchen, I received your signed note to put in my copy of your book today. Thank you!! :o)

  • Great read!

    I loved that you mentioned the proportion of such an action as throwing away another person’s bottle to the positive feeling you get. I’ve tried to memorize and cultivate such little habits that increase your daily happiness, but wasn’t yet aware of throwing away other’s trash! Thanks for sharing.

    Yours Happy
    http://living-happy.com/

  • Dkrpick

    When I walk my dog, I always pick up trash along my street. I go different directions several times a week to pick up a larger area. I recycle the aluminum cans. I view it as keeping my small part of the world a little cleaner.

    Also, when you go into a store that has carts in the parking lot, grab one and take it in with you. I know there are people that this is their responsibility, but why not make their job a bit easier? You’re going to need to get one anyway the minute you walk in the door.

  • maxi

    When I’m in a public restroom and the toilet paper holder is sitting there empty and there is a roll of paper plopped on top I just put it properly on the roller.

    I have no idea why people just take off what they’re going to use instead of putting the whole roll on the roller so it’s easier for everyone. And cleaner and you know those rolls fall on the floor more often than not!

    I really relate to the idea that if I am thinking “someone should do something about this” – that someone should be ME!

  • LH

    I live in Munich, Germany and beer is VERY important to the culture. On hot summer days everyone is hanging out on the river or in the big beautiful parks with their friends and a beer in hand. When I go to any market downtown on one of these days to get my beer to take to the park, the cold shelf of beer is normally close to empty. So lately, I have been throwing cases of beer onto the cold shelf before I check out. I know most of you think this isn’t important, but to a Münchner, this is much appreciated and it makes me feel good!

  • C_stoppa01

    Today was pick up trash day at work. We adopted the local highway stretch infront of our building. I also pick up trash around my apartment building. You always will have people that will say “its not MY job to pick up trash, I’m not going to do it”. But we that do go out to pick up trash feel really great when we are done! The others are just missing out!

  • Alyss

    I get a similar buzz when I compliment people that I don’t know: what great shoes, you make that hat look good, etc. It’s lovely to see someone just light up from an unexpected compliment. It is a great feeling just to brighten someone’s day!

    One day as I was driving away from a grocery store, it started to rain. I took the opportunity to hand a pedestrian an umbrella. Their expression was priceless. It was such fun that now I always carry a spare umbrella in my car and look for the opportunity to do so again.

    You don’t have to be a leader, to lead by example.

  • Lisa

    Like a prior poster, when I’m picking up after my dog, I also pick up when someone else has failed to do so.

    Recently as I was waiting in the grocery store(somewhat impatiently) for a woman to pull off a plastic produce bag so I could get one, she handed me the first bag she pulled off and handed it to me saying, “Here you go.” Totally changed my mood. I’ve resolved to emulate her during future grocery trips.

  • SoozWillamuse

    About once a week, I do a “power walk” for a 5-mile round trip. I can’t help but be micro-observant of the trash that gets thrown out of car windows and lands on the side of the road. I’m workin’ toward remembering to bring a large trash bag with me. I should have a picker-upper stick, or a grabber, because you never know when there will be something creepy nesting in the folds of some piece of trash. Be careful, but try to make a difference!

  • db

    Having worked in a rehab dept. in a hospital, I watch out for folks using canes, walkers, wheelchairs. They need help carrying things and need doors opened for them.
    I also compliment strangers about their clothes or hair-whatever I notice. In dealing with employees I always try to give positive feedback to them.

  • Shelley

    When my girls were little we had this little game. Every day we all “did something nice and try not to get caught.” That meant doing little things like this, BUT, they couldn’t tell anyone exactly what it was…they could report that they did their good deed, but not the details…it made it interesting because if they just HAD to tell, then they had to do at least one more little thing WITHOUT telling. The NOT TELLING made it more of a surprise, like they were doing it for the Universe or for God, than for another human being. Sometimes people do kind things so they will get noticed by others, not just to do good things. This approach made it about not just DOING good, but BEING good.

  • Kelly

    I love to keep my street clean. I pick up trash when walking my dog and carry a small bag. I will also stop my car and get out to grab a plastic bottle or milk jug and throw it in my trunk.

    This has such a positive impact on me and it is also going to have a good impact on my town. There is an 80 year old man that has been picking up trash from the streets for years and he inspired me.

    I find it’s true that if your having a bad day you can turn it around by doing something nice for someone else. It makes you forget yourself and your problems.

  • Gayle

    Great idea! Research and personal experience shows that doing a good deed DOES boost self esteem. So what other good deeds are people doing? I had a friend who would pay the toll for herself and the car behind her on the thruway. My own inclination is to clean up after others at home, from newspapers to dishes, and being really nice to other drivers (who want to change lanes, exit from parking lots, etc.). There are so many opportunities!

  • Mrs. Jazzbert

    When I was in college, someone (I wish I could remember who) told me of how they try to do a ‘good deed’ everyday – BUT! if anyone found out (i.e., if he/she were to brag on themselves), it wouldn’t count. The definition od ‘good deed’ was totally open to interpretation and the size of the deed mattered not at all.

    I started to do this in college and it has become a 20 year habit. It taught me to constantly look for even the smallest opportunities to be helpful and, moreso, it has taught me humility. That not-telling-anybody bit is harder than it sounds!

    • Raebow

      You are greating great Karma by not-telling-anybody. It is a great lesson, yes?

      • Raebow

        oops , that s/b ” creating”

  • trying

    I like the idea of picking up other people’s trash a lot. It’s a little thing that takes practically no time, you can do it just about anywhere, and you’re doing something useful.

    The “do good, feel good” concept has always felt kind of overwhelming to me, because I always feel like it has to be something big. But this is a good reminder that it can also be something very small that makes a big difference. Great ideas for other small things that are big in the comments, too.

  • JustDuck

    Give love to receive love. Love is everywhere. Smile, encourage, be kind… and it will return to you.

  • Bridget

    My mantra is to leave things (people, spaces, interactions, etc) better than when you found them. There is always an opportunity to exercise this when you go into a restroom. After picking up the paper towels and other debris on the floor, wiping up the excess water on the counter, I look back at the area and know that the next person will have a better frame of mind when they enter.

  • Vickie Beck

    Throwing away other people’s trash is what I started doing some time ago. I live in Germany and it is normally very clean but since having Mac Donalds fast food restaurants here I see bags and cups etc…thrown all over the countryside. It is as if the advertisements says ” Drive through and throw out”. It is in fact about the only trash I see when driving around here. As it is an American company, I am totally embarassed to see such TRASH in beautiful Bavaria where I have chosen to live with my family. For some time now I have even been stopping and picking it up. And yes, I do feel good about it and I even bless the people who choose to do such a thing.
    Before choosing to clean up after fast food eaters I have often thrown away other people’s little trash….it is the way I was raised.
    Thanks for helping me see that it has to do with my self-esteem. Mine is a bit low at the moment.

  • JRD

    I reported a piece of trash, because there was no way I could handle a huge metal dumpster that had been swept down the river and beached. The company who owned was startled to find out when I called them to report it, and within a week, they somehow managed to remove it. It felt good to do that as I bet all the people driving by never bothered to report it.

  • Nicholas Smith

    Janitorial Supplies at Janilink. U.S. and International source for cleaning supplies, industrial cleaning equipment, janitorial supplies and cleaning equipment. Now anybody can buy products at wholesale prices from our huge inventory .
    Trash Grabbers.