This week marked the start of the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt (GISH), “break from normalcy” that benefits a nonprofit I love called Random Acts. My participation is also contributed to by the fact the whole thing is the brain child of one of my biggest role models Misha Collins. The whole thing centers around the idea that normal people can make the world a better place by just consciously trying to do so. In the following days, I’ll be dropping by a park to instigate a pillow fight, setting up a bubble wrap stress relief station and donating to at least one charity to fulfill a few of my missions.

The hunt got me thinking about how easy it is to do good if we make the choice. I included a picture of a mission trip I took to the Dominican Republic a few years ago not because I’m super proud of my motivations behind that trip but because we turn making the world into a better place into such a spectacle at times. When I was so involved with the church, I spent a lot of time doing things like that mission trip in order to check the right boxes. So in kind of a violent response to all that “charity” with the wrong motivation, I recoiled from volunteering or helping people when I left.

But as I do this silly hunt and have fun putting positivity and kindness into the world, I realize that just because my motivations were skewed doesn’t mean the world suddenly stopped needing my help. We all have this goodness inside of us that the world desparately needs. You have a kindness and an ability inside of you to make the world around you a better place. Your obligation is not one to anyone or any religion, but in that by existing you have been given the choice to do good.

The messy planet we live on is overwhelmingly broken at times, so I’ve included some ideas to get us started on putting good things into the world. Choose goodness by:

  • Buy cool things from cool people. Organizations like Stands offer products that you’ll love and would pay for anyways, and the proceeds go to really cool charities. Think of your shopping habits as a way to help the right people get the right kind of resources to the right places.
  • Volunteer. This can seem like such a daunting task, but it really doesn’t have to be. Sites like Volunteer Match connect you to causes you care about and give clear next steps on getting involved hands on.
  • Vote. Ah! You’re talking about good things in this world and bringing in politics? What are you thinking?? Here’s the truth: politics in its essence is the allocation of finite resources. When you register to vote and show up to the polls, you help good people get the resources they need by voting for candidates who represent the interests of those without.
  • Be kind. The rest of these choices might not happen today. They can, but they may take you a little more time. But if there’s anything I can ask of those of you who read this, it’s to hold yourselves accountable for your attitude. The world is a big, messy place filled with messy people. It can’t get fixed overnight. But you make it better when you hold a door, forgive small mistakes and don’t take the every day annoyances too seriously.

So what’s the bottom line? You don’t need a big fancy trip to a developing nation to do good (though if you’re headed that way, please tell me about it and go you!). The world changes when a handful of people, a hundred people or just you decide to choose goodness. Let me know how I can help.