For every tragedy or major political event, I spend hours reading the news. Headlines and Twitter threads become my bedtime story; my heart breaks for people I will never meet, and they become my prayer.
And so often, that’s where it ends. I whisper kind words and send happy thoughts out into the universe, and then they are oh-so conveniently forgotten. Our paths split as soon as they meet on my wishful spiritual plane, because the world is too damn big, and there is nothing I can do.
If there is anything I have learned in the past year, it is that I have bought into a horrible lie: that, in order to help others, I need to do something drastic. Growing up, I heard stories of environmentalists and imagined what it would be like to handcuff myself to a tree. Now, I see people going on strike or going on hunger strikes. They’re running for office or becoming billionaires and donating every penny (okay, that’s basically just Bill Gates and J.K Rowling. But you get my point).
“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”
If you’re watching the news and feeling a bit discouraged, take heart. The fact that you feel this way means that you care, and there can never be a surplus of love in the world. Politics are important, of course, but our own circle is an excellent place to start. Here are a few activism-inspired habits that I’ve been putting into practice–and some tips you can use, too!
Practice self-care. Too often, the concept of self-care gets watered down to coloring books and taking a bubble bath. While there is nothing inherently wrong with bubble baths or coloring, we all need to consider what truly restores our souls. If you are burnt out, stressed, or feeling scatter-brained, you probably won’t have the energy for anything other than watching Netflix. Remember the basics: do the dishes, eat a good meal, stay hydrated; then, take a day just for yourself. You deserve it.
Be kind. Be kind to your cashier. Be kind to your barista. Be kind to the homeless man you pass on the street. Be kind to the receptionist. Be kind to your neighbor. It’s not that hard. Really.
Speak up! Contact your Senators and House Representatives–calling their office only takes a few minutes, and every phone call is tallied. If you are like me and absolutely hate calling strangers, websites like 5 Calls provide scripts you can follow. You can also download Countable to learn more about various issues and send your reps a message.
Share informative and encouraging posts on social media. Whether you get caught in a heated debate or realize you’ve spent hours reading news articles, it’s easy to get stuck in the black hole of despair that is social media–but the Internet can still be a force for good. Share posts from a variety of (accurate) sources, and say something inspiring to go along with it.
Read. Aside from the all the fascinating things you’ll learn, reading can reduce stress and make you more empathetic. If you’re already a bibliophile, change up your reading habits: support indie authors or add more diverse books to your reading list.
Speaking of which…support artists! Writers, painters, photographers, musicians, filmmakers–they all make the world a more beautiful place, and they all need to eat. Check out Patreon and consider donating to an artist you admire. If you are unable to donate, spread the word. Share their posts on social media. If you love their work, TELL THEM! It will make their day, and your support will help them share their work with the world.
Start using apps and browser extensions that make a positive impact. Put all those hours online to good use! Install Tabs for a Cause to donate money to various organizations; ditch Google (gasp) and plant trees with Ecosia. If you’re an obsessive Amazon user, try AmazonSmile. See? The world’s looking brighter already.
Adopt an animal. If you’ve been looking for a four-legged friend, visit your local shelter. There are millions of homeless animals in the United States alone; you are bound to fall in love with at least one, right?
Be generous. If you are financially able, donate money to your favorite organizations or non-profits. If you are on a tight budget, give your time instead; most non-profits have volunteer programs. Find something you are passionate about–it doesn’t have to feel like work in order to be helpful!
Listen. Until we listen to someone else’s story, we will only ever see the world through one lens: our own. No one just decides what they are going to believe, and no one magically becomes woke. It’s a process, and open dialogue can go a long way.
Pray. I know not everyone shares my beliefs, but I have found that just saying my intentions out loud can work wonders. Change starts with us, after all.
This is certainly not an exhaustive list of good deeds, but for me, they have become a manageable starting point. Together, I think we can accomplish just about anything.
How do you incorporate activism and kindness into your life? Tell me on Twitter or leave a comment!