Last year, about 1 in 5 people came up with some sort of New Year’s resolution, according to a poll by YouGov. The most common resolutions are: saving money, losing weight, doing more exercise, and quitting smoking. However, studies show that less than 10% manage to keep them for more than a few months.

Others have more ambitious goals – to make a difference in the world. Our world could use a little more peace, love, and understanding. If you read the daily headlines, you may wish that someone could just step in and make things better… and that someone could be you. Sure, you cannot really change the world, but there are many things that we can do to make our immediate surroundings better!

1) Learn something new. Educating yourself is one of the first steps you can take to make the world a better place. Set aside 30 minutes to 1 hour each day to learn about issues that get you fired up and seek out a better understanding of how your involvement can help.

2) Don’t spread misinformation. While bots spread a lot of fake news, the majority of fake news re-transmissions is committed by real people. Check before you share! Take the extra few minutes to look over the source and read the article in full to make sure that the title accurately reflects the content. Also make sure the site is reputable. All sites are not created equal.

3) Always say thank you. Whenever someone does something nice for you, say thanks, and really mean it. Make sure the special people in your life know how much they mean to you. Put a reminder on your calendar—even if it’s just one occasion of saying thank you each month. Saying thank you connects us to the goodness within others.

4) Volunteer. There are many organizations that are impacting people’s lives in a positive manner. By volunteering, these organizations can continue providing assistance and you gain a sense of satisfaction by helping. For starters, check out Habitat for Humanity and help build houses for families in need and learn valuable construction skills. You can also visit the YMCA, where you can help both children and adults, strengthen your leadership skills, or pick up some valuable teaching experience by tutoring literacy courses.

5) Keep your vaccinations up-to-date. Spread love. Don’t spread germs. There are people who cannot be vaccinated and we are doing them a favor if we get vaccinated ourselves. When more people are immunized, there is less risk for everyone.

6) Give clean water. Every day, 1,000 children under age 5 die from diarrhea caused by unsafe water. Your gift of clean water will also help in saving children suffering from the caused by parasites, worms, dysentery, and diarrhea.

7) End malaria. Malaria steals one life every 60 seconds. By the time you finish reading this, malaria has killed three people already. Donate money to provide tablets of Anti-Malarial Drugs to children in malaria-prone communities.

8) Help end polio. We are on the brink of making history by eradicating the crippling disease polio – be part of history! Your donation will contribute to providing lifetime protection so that children can grow up polio-free.

9) Stop TB. Tuberculosis (TB) is the #1 infectious disease killer in the world. Check the Stop TB Partnership Directory to find contact information for your local government tuberculosis programme or an NGO working on TB. Find out from them how you can help spread TB awareness in your community.

Helen Keller said, “I am only one, but still I am one; I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and just because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.”

Every effort counts, regardless of how little and insignificant it might appear. If every person did just one of the things above – billions of acts of generosity, kindness, and social responsibility would take place — and wouldn’t that make the world better? Simply accomplish something and do something good. While you think of what to do next, share this blog on your social media accounts and spread the word! It feels great to do great things!


  • Melvin Sanicas

    Physician, Scientist, TED Educator, Writer

    Dr. Melvin Sanicas is a physician - scientist specializing in vaccines, infectious diseases, and global health. He is a 'citizen of the world' who has lived, studied, worked in The Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, South Africa, Switzerland, Germany, Italy, US, and UK. His op-eds, articles, and blogs have appeared in The World Economic Forum Agenda, The Project Syndicate, Huffington Post, TED Ed, Forbes, El Pais, and in over 40 print and online publications worldwide. He is a partner at the Brighton Collaboration, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, and a Fellow of the Royal Society for Public Health.