What are the easiest highly positive and effective things that people can do?

post by zepedad · 2019-02-02T02:41:26.471Z · score: 5 (4 votes) · EA · GW · 3 comments

This is a question post.


    2 aarongertler
    2 Khorton
1 comment

The most positive and effective actions are often deep and complicated, and a part of a larger machine working towards more goodness in a given field. That might be daunting to folks who are new to EA, unskilled in a lot of relevant ways, tired, burnt out, predisposed towards badness/lameness, etc. So, to figure out a way to onboard those kinds of people towards the harder work, it’d be nice to know what the easiest stuff to achieve that we suggest would be.


answer by aarongertler · 2019-02-15T19:17:57.776Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Suggestions:that take some emotional energy and restraint, but don't require much time or any money (and might actually save you time):

  • Be kind to yourself and others.
    • Don't self-criticize because you aren't moving "fast enough" in the direction you think is best; it's okay to be proud of progress, even minor progress.
    • Don't criticize others unless you really believe it will be helpful (imagine how helpful the average piece of online criticism is, and remember that you might be closer to "average" than you think, especially if your response is fueled by anger and you don't care very much about the other person's welfare).
  • Try to think about measures of effectiveness, especially scale, in your daily life. Getting used to "seeing through an EA lens" can help to guide you toward other ways of helping the world.
    • This may be most applicable when it comes to news and social media. If you see a huge argument erupt over a small incident, consider whether your efforts will be helpful before you jump in to contribute. And consider, before reading the whole thread, whether there are other things you could be reading that concern a larger number of people, with more at stake.
    • This doesn't mean completely abandoning local issues or your social circle, of course -- but it does mean remembering that what news outlets prioritize is not inherently important just because it is "news".
  • Clean up your systems.
    • No matter what you want to work on the future, no matter how long it will take, you'll want to have certain resources available when you arrive. These include things like "a coherent to-do list", "a reasonably well-organized physical space", "a nutritious diet", and "slack".
    • If you plan to help the world once your life is "in order" (something I've heard many times), putting your life in order is helping the world.
    • I won't turn this answer into a post about personal productivity. Things that have been helpful to many people I know include Getting Things Done and The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, but reading some personal productivity websites and doing simple, commonsense things will help a lot for people who aren't yet doing said things.
answer by Khorton · 2019-02-02T17:38:07.063Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Easy ways to do more good:

  1. Set up a direct debit to one of GiveWell.com's top charities. You can always start with $20 a paycheck and change it later; it's just useful to get started and know you're helping people.
  2. Work through the 80,000 Hours career guide. Use their career planning tool to think about how you could help more people with your career.


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comment by ImmaSix · 2019-02-03T05:56:08.182Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

See also here for more suggestions: https://www.effectivealtruism.org/get-involved/

I don't think that anyone knows a clear right answer to your question (at least, I don't). What is 'easiest', I guess, depends on your personal situation. If you have enough money, donating is probably the easiest start. If you are early in your career, maybe read up on 80.000 hours.