How to Feel Righteous Everyday: A Cheater’s GuidePosted: October 17, 2011
I will admit that I like feeling righteous. This is not to be confused with feeling self-righteous – which is to say, smug. Smugness is ugly and coarse and inelegant. But righteousness is above all that. To feel righteous is to feel conscientious, dutiful, virtuous, irreproachable – in short, Good.
But Good does not come cheap. Often times doing Good involves time and sacrifice. I have devised a system to get around all that. I have a list of Everyday Righteous Activities which, admittedly fall a bit short of the lofty heights of volunteering at soup kitchens or reading to disadvantaged youth, but still provide me a small sense of virtuosity, even if only for a couple of seconds. (The rule is: The smaller the act of Good, the shorter time you can spend feeling righteous about it.)
I do not pretend that these things will put me in contention for the Nobel Peace Prize, but I think you will agree that doing them is better than not doing them. And that is really the only qualification for inclusion on this list.
Everyday Righteous Activities:
- Eating vegetables
- Any form of exercise
- Shaving my legs
- Letting a car go in front of me in traffic
- Not shopping
- Any act of cleaning my home
- Making a dinner in which no ingredients came out of a bag or box
- Showering and washing my hair
- Wearing something other than yoga pants
- Not having dessert
- Holding the door for the person behind me
- Sewing on a button (or sewing of any kind)
- Clipping my kids fingernails
- Not going to Starbucks for my Iced Mocha
- Slowing down, rather than gunning it, when approaching a yellow light
- Eating soy products that pretend to be chicken or ground beef
- Wearing shoes other than flip-flops or tennis shoes
- Giving my dogs a bath
- Thinking about starting to compost
- Reading a newspaper
- Folding and putting away laundry on the same day
- Eating fruit with the skin on
- Using up the last of my hair products before buying new ones
- Opting for soda water instead of diet soda
- Putting a new roll of toilet paper on the thingy
Some might say that these things are nothing to feel special about. But I challenge those people to shift their paradigm: To believe that yes, you ARE a rock star because you cleaned behind your refrigerator. Or to feel proud of the fact that you got up, showered, and left the house. After all, you could have not done that, right? You could have sat on your ass eating canned cheese in your underwear all day. But you didn’t. You mowed the grass. You asked your mail carrier how her day was. You took your grocery cart to the cart-return and didn’t let it roll amuck. It may not be much, but there is some value in that.
The way I see it, my Everyday Righteous Activities are like my everyday clothing: Functional, comfortable, not-too-fancy, and easy to get away with. I also have my Good clothes, which I break out on special occasions; just like I do Good on a larger scale on special occasions, or at least as often as I can. But not everyday. Not everyone has the time everyday to engage in grand gestures of human kindness and/or public service (unless you are my father-in-law or Oprah.) For the rest of us mortals, I offer my list. Use it as a righteousness-patch – something to get you through until you have the time to dedicate yourself to something truly worthwhile. And while you’re at it, go ahead and give yourself a pat on the back for reading this blog. You deserve it.