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Key concepts to bear in mind as you do an easy good deed: imagination and follow-through:

1. Birthdays. This is so easy. Gather the dates of important birthdays, enter them into one of the internet reminder sites (I use Happybirthday.com), and send happy-birthday emails throughout the year. Super-bonus: two friends sent me emails yesterday for the Little Girl’s birthday—I was so touched.

2. Thinking of you. I’m working hard to send an email every time I think, “I wonder if So-and-So saw this article about broccoli” or “This reminds me of the time in college when So-and-So and I went shopping during a hurricane,” etc. It’s so nice to know that people are thinking of you.

3. Help people think big. Nothing is more encouraging than a friend throwing out some huge goal and saying, “You should do that!” “You should write a book, you should start your own firm, you should run for office, you should join the Council on Foreign Relations.” You never know, sometimes one encouraging comment can have extraordinary effect on someone’s life.

4. Recommendations. If you know of a terrific , tell your friends. Mention that you have a great source for some service or product, and remember to follow up with the referral information if asked. This seems too easy to qualify as a good deed, but a recommendation can be a huge help.

5. Introductions. For doing business, for blind dates, for people moving to a new city—making introductions can make someone’s life a lot easier. Connecting people is an extremely helpful good deed, so it’s worth a bit of thinking and prodding to make it happen.

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