Few people would argue with the statement that 2020 has been one of the worst years in recent memory.

Maybe not so much if you are a direct beneficiary of the Lysol kingdom or are Jeff Bezos. But for the rest of us? Pretty awful.

I can’t help but think all the frustration we are feeling is making us sicker. Add it to the fear, skyrocketing COVID-19 numbers, economic uncertainty, political strife, resentment and confusion we already feel, and you’ve created a Molotov cocktail of misery.

Yet there are glimmers of hope. At a time in life when it feels like we can’t control anything, it’s somewhat encouraging to see people turn out in record numbers to vote or to volunteer to work at the polls. They are controlling the only thing they can — their own lives — by contributing to the democratic process.

Recently, I also heard of some high school kids in my hometown who helped law enforcement by chasing down a man who was causing a disruption in a neighboring community’s gas station. That made me a tiny bit happier. A droplet of good amid all the bad.

WDAY logo
listen live
watch live
Newsletter signup for email alerts

With that in mind, I have decided to contribute in my own little way. From today until the pandemic finally dies, I pledge to do one good thing for another human being each day. It doesn’t matter how small it is; the important thing is that I’m putting some tiny bit of hope and good will out into the world.

I’m not doing this because I am great or brave or want to (excuse the expression, which seems inappropriate these days) “go viral." I’m doing it for purely selfish reasons.

Because I need to believe in something. Because, in order to stay sane and to not give up on humanity altogether, I have to experience something positive. Consider it a positive virus, which likely won’t be nearly as contagious as COVID, but which will spread a tiny outbreak of grace and goodness each day. If that wave of grace only spreads to one other person, well, at least it made it that far.

It may sound hokey and cornball and sadly naive. I really don’t care. It’s easy to judge others these days. It’s easy to be a peanut gallery, mocking everything and actually doing nothing.

I’m doing this only because even simply thinking about it has already given my spirits a lift. The news is full of tragedy, it’s snowy and gray outside and I’m wondering if I will ever eat in a restaurant or fit into regular pants again. But, already, I feel better.

I’m already preparing a list of ideas called my One Good Thing list. It will include things such as volunteering to help carry bags for a mom who seems overwhelmed with groceries and kids; buying a coffee for the person behind me at Starbucks, or leaving a note of thanks for our mail carrier, who has continued doing an amazing job through one of the most trying years in Postal Service history. It might mean baking cookies for West Fargo’s extraordinary waste-management crew or complimenting a stranger on her hairstyle or cute shoes or adorable dog. Nothing fancy. Nothing elaborate. Just one good thing.

Do I expect this to change the world? No. But I do expect it will change my world, even if only for a little bit.

I can no longer expect good things to come from others; I can’t control that. But I can control this.

I only have one defense against so many bad things, and that is One Good Thing.

Readers can reach columnist Tammy Swift at tswiftsletten@gmail.com.