Each year I use an issue of the Just One Thing newsletter to offer Twelve Good Things that I think are really wonderful and worth your attention.
May you and those you love and the whole wide world be truly well, truly happy, and truly at peace.
— O N E —
Global Compassion Coalition
The Global Compassion Coalition is working to build a better world, with compassion and justice at its heart. Please join me and over a hundred thousand others — it’s free, and growing by several thousand a week — to connect inner and outer, the personal and the political, so that people and the planet are truly thriving. Together, we can be big enough to be strong enough to make the world we long for!
Our key partner is the Charter for Compassion, an international force for good, including its work to promote compassionate cities, prosocial schools and businesses, and a global network of millions of people who have affirmed the Charter itself.
— T W O —
Greater Good Science Center
The Greater Good Science Center remains my go-to for research-based stories, tips, and tools for a happier, more meaningful life and a more compassionate society. I especially like their Science of Happiness Podcast and their annual list of favorite books.
— T H R E E —
The Foundations of Well-Being 2.0
Tired of just surviving the challenges life keeps throwing your way? Start changing and thriving with my Foundations of Well-Being 2.0 — a step-by-step journey in 2024 where you’ll be building up new inner strengths each week for big, lasting changes.
— F O U R —
Get to Net Zero Yourself
For all our efforts, humanity is producing more greenhouse gasses than ever. Sure, we should pressure companies and countries to change. But they keep blocking emissions reductions and making money as fast as they can while the planet burns up.
Meanwhile, as much as we try to have a greener lifestyle, we each have an unavoidable carbon footprint—16 metric tons of CO2 a year for the average American.
Individually, you and I can’t change Exxon Mobil or Saudia Arabia. But for less than half a dollar a day, we can each compensate for our personal carbon footprint through legitimate “offsets,” like donating to plant trees, protect wetlands from the developer’s bulldozer, or deliver water filtration kits so people don’t have to burn wood to boil water so it’s safe to drink.
With others, I’m helping to build a global movement of eventually hundreds of millions of individuals who make a moral commitment to being Net Zero themselves. At scale, this could impact 5-10% of annual greenhouse gasses, year after year after year. This might seem unrealistic, but it’s a lot more realistic than hoping that the fossil fuel industry and its political allies will act against their own profit interests.
It’s easy to feel helpless, and just tune out and give up. They want you to do that. But you have the power to compensate for your unavoidable carbon footprint. This is individual moral action, not companies gaming the carbon markets with wildly inflated offsets. And together, we can become a mighty political force on the world stage, saying: “I’ve Done My Part – Now Do Yours!”
— F I V E —
Rick’s Recommended Books of 2023
For fiction, my tastes are, er, eclectic. I thoroughly enjoyed Lessons in Chemistry but had mixed reactions to The Covenant of Water (which my wife really loved). Witch King is a fun fantasy by Martha Wells (also check out her Murderbot series). I also liked When These Mountains Burn, Runner (and the other two books in the Sam Dryden series), and The Drifter (and the others in the Peter Ash series).
And for the littles be sure to check out Good Morning, I Love You, Violet!
— S I X —
BRITE Initiative remains an organization near and dear to my heart. Their school in Haiti for kindergarten through 8th grade serves children who would not otherwise get a decent education. They have about 120 students who still need support for this school year, and you might like to join me in sponsoring one of them.
Buddhist Global Relief is also close to my heart. Over 90% of what’s donated to them goes directly to feeding people, operating schools — including for girls who would otherwise suffer a terrible fate — and demonstrating the power of boundless lovingkindness.
And I’ve recently learned about Mwanzo in rural Kenya, and the extraordinary work of its founder, Loyce Ong’udi. Their slogan is “hope has a home here”—profoundly true in a setting in which hundreds of people will turn out to celebrate the graduation of children from kindergarten.
— S E V E N —
Movies and Videos
I saw a lot this year that entertained, educated, and/or inspired me. I won’t try to explain my choices here; proceed at your own risk!
In TV shows, The Bear season 2 was even better than season 1; The Gilded Age is an ambivalent pleasure (the actual horrors of wealth inequality, sexism, and racism in the 1880s get airbrushed out); The Diplomat is so intelligent, so engaging; Poker Face is tons of fun; and of course, the final season of Ted Lasso.
For videos, hoowee, it’s a golden age, including of course analyses of the great SF 49ers (shoutout to Quarterback School). So many options . . . check out: John Mayer with BB King as well as Keith Urban; U2, Mick Jagger, and Fergie belting Gimme Shelter; the perennial need to herd the durn cats; Robert Sapolsky explaining how we can learn to live in peace together; Magnus Midtbe’s girlfriend reacting to Alex Honnold getting him to solo (= death if he fell) a 5.9 (= really hard) route; Eddie Vedder with Tom Petty (bless his memory); anything with the great Angus and Julia Stone, including this; Eddie Berman and Laura Marling covering Like a Rolling Stone; Santana explaining how he happened to be peaking on LSD when he was pushed out onto the stage at Woodstock and the results (among other gems, note the incredible drummer); Ethel Cain plus Florence and the Machine and the haunting Morning Elvis; and why Zazen is good for nothing.
— E I G H T —
Good News in 2023
It’s been an up-and-down year and here’s some good news to end it:
- The first solar-covered canal in America is set to be completed within a couple of years.
- The Ozone layer is on track to recover
- Mattel increases representation by releasing a Barbie doll with Down’s Syndrome
- The first malaria vaccine slashes early childhood mortality
— N I N E —
The Wellspring Institute for Neuroscience and Contemplative Wisdom is supported entirely by donations and gathers, organizes, and freely offers information and methods — supported by brain science and the contemplative disciplines — for greater happiness, love, effectiveness, and wisdom. The institute publishes the free, bimonthly Wise Brain Bulletin, provides funding for research, and maintains a database of key scientific papers. You can support this 501c(3) non-profit organization here.
— T E N —
The Wonder of Space
I find a lot of wonder in space, which is why I love checking out the Astronomy Picture of the Day, and the Astrum channel‘s eye-popping images of space. The Exoplanet Travel Bureau website is also fun to imagine taking a trip outside the solar system, and the Hubblesite has a lot of fascinating imagery from the NASA Hubble Space Telescope as well.
— E L E V E N —
Free, Live Online Meditation Groups
Much research has shown that meditation is a powerful way to develop greater resilience, compassion, and happiness – as well as strengthen the immune system and promote other health benefits. You can join me for free every Wednesday as I offer a talk and meditation that draws on modern psychology, brain science, and the teachings of the Buddha. My good friends Michael Taft, Jack Kornfield, and Tara Brach also host weekly live meditations you may want to check out.
— T W E L V E —
Resources for Happy, Peaceful, Confident Kids
Children and their happiness and development have always been dear to my heart, and there are so many great resources for helping them grow into happy, confident, peaceful people. The Wuf Shanti YouTube Channel has a lot of great videos, and its creator Adam Avin has a new book out — Stress Less: Mindfulness for Teens. GoNoodle teaches kids body awareness among other topics, The Mindful Adventures of Unicorn Island from Headspace guides kids in regulating emotions, and Everyday Speech has great videos for kids who have social learning challenges.
As we head into the holiday season, I’d like to send twelve times warm wishes to you,
P.S. For a baker’s dozen, I highly highly recommend the Being Well podcast hosted by Forrest Hanson alongside a recurring mystery guest (me!). The podcast has been downloaded over 15 million times and we’ve explored topics like how to improve our relationships, deal with anxiety, heal from trauma, break old patterns, motivate ourselves, and more. I know you’ll like it!