Wednesday, March 2, 2011

1001 Day Project

Started thinking about the Golden Rule this morning.  You know...

"One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself." 

I'm a believer that this simple rule, if followed, would alleviate much of the world's problems.  I am also a believer in the inherent goodness of people.  Naivete, my husband sometimes calls it, but I have to believe that he has a good reason for saying this.  I think that the average person wants to help others and would, if given a chance.  My husband points to apocalyptic books and zombie movies, in which citizens turn on each other at the first opportunity.  He means well, my guy, but perhaps puts too much faith in books and movies.

So this morning, off to the computer I went, googled "things to do for others."  Not really intending to do anything, just out of curiosity.  First result...a book on Amazon (of course), a Christian offering about helping others that got scathing reviews for its grammatical errors.  Other results of interest:, a sort of online Chicken Soup for the Good Samaritan's Soul.  But the site on which I spent the next twenty minutes:  Day Zero, a site "that inspires you to set and achieve your personal goals in life."  The challenge:  list and complete 101 personal goals in the next 1001 days.  For inspiration, you can look at what others have aspired to, or you can input your own goals.  What a great idea, right?  Sort of a bucket list for good works, expanding your mind, stuff like that.  The mind immediately starts working, aspirations big and a house with Habitat for Humanity, volunteer at the local senior center, take my kid to the art museum. 

Here is the top twenty, the most popular tasks listed at Day Zero by its participants:

1.Donate blood
2.Write a letter to myself to open in 10 years
3.Sleep under the stars
4.Get a tattoo
5.Leave an inspirational note inside a book for someone to find
6.Kiss in the rain
7.Don't complain about anything for a week
8.Watch the sunrise and sunset in the same day
9.Get a job
10.Watch 26 movies I've never seen starting with each letter of the Alphabet
11.Fall in love
12.Answer the "50 Questions That Will Free Your Mind"
13.Go camping
14.Find out my blood type
15.Go to a concert
16.Get married
17.Tie a note to a balloon and let it go
18.Make a new friend
19.Get a massage
20.Build a snowman

Really?  These are the top 20?  Some are certainly big passages in life--get a job, get married, fall in love; some are mildly ambitious--go camping, go to a concert; some intend to touch others in an anonymous, virtually meaningless way--leave an inspirational note in a book. tie a note to a balloon and let it go.  But none of them really has anything to do with "things to do for others," which is what I googled to find this site.  Apparently, people get side-tracked.  But just how unambitious do you have to be that "find out my blood type" is one of your life's aspirations?  Why would you want to write a letter to yourself, to be opened in a decade?  How hard is it to build a snowman?  And if you can't access your own medical records, how likely are you to donate blood?  By the way, you can probably find out your blood type when you donate blood.  Just a thought.  Isn't it enough to watch twenty or so new movies, without the added complication of alphabetizing them?

Sorry to be a downer to all this positive thinking, but I just don't get it.  I think the most productive task on the list is "don't complain about anything for a week."  And I'm


  1. my favorite has to be watch 26 movies, one each for a different letter of the alphabet! really? sheesh. have you check out or there are some good opportunities for helping others at both of these.

  2. Ha ha, yes, we humans are a solipsistic bunch and I like the thought of masses flocking to the site to Do Good only to be side-tracked by their own inane desires once more.

    But I do like the "leave inspirational note in a book" idea - which, coincidentally, I came across elsewhere this week (think it was on the website - another odd online place worth the occasional peep).

    Doing Good isn't just about the big things. Little things can make a difference that lasts too. I'm a firm believer in the say hello/smile at a stranger concept too... who knows when someone last smiled or said hello to the person you choose, and what a difference to their day/week it could mean?

    As to the not complaining for a week - that's a fine aspiration. My intention is to give up "wistful thinking" and "negative thoughts" for Lent... they do say you have to give up something tricky and I figured that might be it.


"As soon as we express something, we devalue it strangely. We believe ourselves to have dived down into the depths of the abyss, and when we once again reach the surface, the drops of water on our pale fingertips no longer resemble the ocean from which they came...Nevertheless, the treasure shimmers in the darkness unchanged." ---Franz Kafka