1. Rethink, or think radically.
Avoid any judgmental thoughts or negative assumptions for an entire day. Give to a homeless person or person in need without wondering or worrying ‘how’ he or she will use it. Accept criticism with a spirit of gratitude rather than defensiveness. Just for a day, assume that everyone has good intentions, reasons, a history of suffering you don’t know, and a backstory you don’t understand, and that you know little rather than everything.
2. Be an actual good person by doing things.
The obvious ones: donate; recycle; turn the lights off; do everybody’s dishes; volunteer.
3. Give to your community.
If you’re a teacher (of yoga, origami, Zumba, economics, or 16th-century literature), considering offering a free workshop or full set of sessions at a senior center, community center, or prison.
4. Don’t complain or gossip, even in harmless ways, for a day or a full 24 hours.
You might be surprised at the negative energy you’re spreading to yourself and others.
5. If you feel urged to say something negative about someone behind their back, compliment them instead.
If you can’t do so sincerely, say nothing, fake it, or the next time you see them, ask them how they’re doing, genuinely…and really listen.
6. Think about people who are less fortunate than you.
Consider writing to a prisoner at WriteAPrisoner or working at your local homeless shelter.
7. When in doubt, avoid.
This one’s easy. What are your ethics? Humane treatment of animals, fair labor laws and wages? Take stock of them, and avoid businesses that don’t adhere to them in one way or another.
8. Notice the links you’re sharing and the issues you’re discussing most passionately over beers.
The next time you feel urged to have an all-out rant session or express your anger about injustice by sharing a link (guilty!), start a group with friends or on meet-up sites. Even if you just meet once a month, discuss some readings, and encourage people to donate to a particular cause, you’re doing more than you were before. Facetime is important when you’re trying to make things happen.
9. Read the whole thing.
For one issue that interests you, don’t rely on sound bytes, headlines, or brief summaries. Read the whole book, and its opposing counterpart. Watch the entire documentary. Take notes; ask questions; write to experts in that field of study.
10. Start a new habit, and start small.
Shop local for two weeks, don’t eat meat ten days a month, or research the origin of everything you buy for a week. Grandstanding is usually unproductive and unlikely to stick.