• I was driving past a familiar spot where there are usually panhandlers asking for money at the freeway exit.  This time there was no one there.  Instead, there was a message written with rolled-up newspaper tucked into the chain link fence. It read: BE GOOD DO GOOD SEE GOOD

    How profound, I thought.  If you are good, you do good and when you do good, you then see good around you – the goodness becomes illuminated.  Was that what the author was trying to impart to passerby?  It can be easy to just be good.  More challenging to me is to see good or go out of my way to do good.  I spent about twenty seconds pondering the message until the light turned green.

    So for the new year, I will challenge myself and you…

    to celebrate the holiday season without excessive materialism.  I’m not getting all bahumbug on you, I promise.  Give gifts, of course.  Experiential gifts.  Gift certificates to ice cream parlors, bookstores, theater tickets (even for the young kids), performances (music concerts for the older kids), etc.  By doing so, you get to extend the celebration and spend time with the recipient, going to these events or places together.  Your holiday no longer becomes about stuff in wrapping paper, but rather about shared memories.  Likely, you will end up supporting local business and not a factory in another country.  It’s good for you, good for our economy, good for our environment. (Random tidbit: 48 cents of every dollar spent at a locally owned retail business goes back into the local community.  That’s more than three times the amount that local economies recover from chain retailers — Civic Economics’ 2012 survey of local businesses.  Local businesses have generated 65% of the country’s net new jobs over the past 17 years — US Small Business Administration)

    …spread joy.  Say something complimentary (while remaining genuine) to every person you encounter on one chosen day.  See how easy it is and by the end of the day, it will feel like second nature to compliment people.  Or choose a neighbor and offer a kind gesture (not a gift, but rather help getting groceries, offering to walk their dog, or just give a warm smile to everyone you encounter).  It doesn’t cost you anything but is worth a lot to someone else!

    Be good, do good, see good. Happy New Year!