I started working on this blog a little while back, the inspiration coming from a conversation with Avis Mulhall and oddly, the marvelous music of Stevie Wonder. Avis and I touched on her monthly event, Think Act Change, and how inspiring it is to see a community of people out there interested in making the world a little bit better. But good intentions matter little and it is after all, actions that count. So the question is how you translate such intention in to meaningful action. A tough one.

For many, the obstacle to doing so seems be that they don’t know how, or that the task seems too daunting that they may want to contribute to. What can one person possibly do about shortages of clean water in Africa? Or widespread poverty? Or malnutrition? Seemingly, not a lot.

So perhaps they look in to it, decide they might like to support an NGO working in this area, either financially or with their time. They turn on the computer (ok, it’s probably already on, but this reads better…), open Google and search ‘Africa poverty organisation’. On the first page there are no less than seventeen organisations listed… “Well UNICEF I’ve heard about, oh and All for Africa sound like nice people…catchy name etc.” Already this whole ‘doing something good’ is getting a bit more complicated.

It prompted me to begin working on some ideas; how about a simple collection of guidelines that are easy to implement and each of us could do to have a positive impact every day? I drafted a few up, and then the document was left in the library of my computer to gather dust (it didn’t really get dusty, that would be ridiculous) for a while.

It was Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography that prompted me to take another look at this; as he had produced a lovely list of virtues for man to work towards. Applicable to anyone, and all in the name of bettering ourselves and the world.

The other principle guiding this is the butterfly effect. That one small positive action, such as listening to someone when they are really struggling could go on to have a much greater impact as that person’s life progresses than we might have thought. I’m also of the view that small but regularly practiced changes can add up to have significant impact, especially thr0ugh their influence on others.

Now I’m not so interested in whether the guidelines I’ve produced are the de facto best ones, but what I really would like is some other suggestions from people. I believe the concept has some value and perhaps even application.

So, a few ideas then. I tried for 5 but ended up with 6…

Care for the environment

Recycle, walk or cycle when you don’t need to drive, turn the lights and power off.


Flick your thought pattern from ‘oh, there’s something that needs changing’ to ‘how can I change it’? Start a conversation with someone about it. Spend time in company of others who want to make things better.

Limit consumption  

Buy from companies who you know are ethical and socially responsible where possible. Practice collaborative consumption – rent or borrow rather than buy.

Show compassion

Listen first (someone may really need you and want to share what is happening in their life. We are not great at trying to understand). Ask people how they are and really engage with the answer. Smile at somebody!


Strive to better ourselves and keep improving. Look after your needs (we need to look after ourselves before looking after others) – eat well, sleep, get exercise, indulge in hobbies and passions. Be a light, not a judge. Acknowledge and understand your prejudices.


Give a little bit (financially or with time) to an organisation doing valuable work you believe in, but do your research first!