In a world full of selfish deeds and ‘me’ attitude, it’s often easy to forget how doing good deeds can make you feel a sense of happiness. I know, shock horror right? Doing something selfless for someone else can make you feel good!
I have to admit that I go through periods where I think about only myself, why not? I work hard, I’ve lived a difficult life, I deserve to have happiness, and I deserve nice things. But anything I do for myself, anything I buy for myself will only ever really get me temporary happiness, and whilst it’s nice to feel those boughts of happiness from a new purchase or a treat for yourself, it doesn’t compare to that internal smile you feel when you know you’ve done something good for someone else, even more so when you’ve not been asked to do it in the first place.
My partner and I struggled to support us financially in our final year at University. He held down a full time, mentally, physically and emotionally draining job that barely paid and took hours to get to. I had about 3 jobs at one point trying to go to University and College all at the same time. There would be times when we would be so exhausted we couldn’t even have a proper conversation over dinner. One thing we never lacked is support and love, we were lucky, we never went hungry, we never worried about not having a roof over our head. Whilst financially we were poor, we were rich in the things that at that time mattered. We had each other and every night, we could go to bed with fresh sheets and say I love you.
We were fully conscious of the fact that there were others living in the same city as us that had far less than we did.
We didn’t really start thinking about what we could do for other people until one day, we went to a store and on our way back to the car we saw an elderly couple struggling to get their new patio set into their car. Scott and I watched as they tried to maneuver the table into the car making quite a mess of the situation. Scott turned to me and said ‘The table is way too big for their boot, it won’t fit.’ We watched for a few more minutes and that’s when Scott decided, his boot was far bigger than the other couples and he walked up to them. He introduced us and offered to drive the table back for the couple and they could take the chairs. They were so surprised and so grateful, and agreed.
We followed the couple back, what we thought would be a 5 minute drive turned into a 25 minute one, once we got to their house, Scott helped them unload the patio set. The couple tried to give Scott money and he refused, insisting that he was glad they got it home safe and to have a lovely day.
When Scott got into the car I asked him why he had refused the money, he looked at me and simply said ‘I didn’t offer to take the table for them because I wanted money, I just wanted to help them.’
That small act of kindness may not have seemed a lot, it may have seemed so simple and easy, but the smile it put on Scott’s face just said it all. That good deed he did, not only benefitted a struggling individual, but it made Scott happy. Now I know you’re probably thinking, but it was just a patio set, a luxury for them, it’s not really making a difference in this world. But wait…it is though. Yes it was a luxury, but we don’t know how long that couple had saved up for it, we don’t know what they would have done had they not been able to take all of their things in one go, would the wife have had to stay behind? How long would she have had to be standing in the cold waiting for him to return? Scott being there and offering his help made a difference, maybe not a monumentally big difference, but still a difference nonetheless.
After all, doesn’t all small acts of kindness add up?
On our drive home, Scott announced that he wanted to try and do at least 1 good deed a day, so we decided for 1 month we would try this. Each of us would go out of our way to help another person to see if it made a difference to our internal happiness.
So off we went, filling the streets of Shelton, with kindness and help one small act at a time, whether it was buying a less fortunate individual a hot coffee and sandwich, or helping a lost tourist find their friends. We tried to do our small acts of kindness and in turn we watched each other feel happier.
Then we noticed a lot of waste at Scotts work, a lot of food was often being thrown away, good food as well, and those that may be close to it’s sell by date that they weren’t able to sell. Often there would be several bins full just wasted, so one day we decided to hide the ‘food waste’ before they got thrown away, Scott insisted to his boss that he would dispose of it himself. That night we had a trunk full of food, 20+ packets of hot cross buns, loaves of bread, bags and bags full of butter, margarine, spread, cured meats, soya milk, coffee, sugar, fruit. Loads of food that as students we could have taken advantage of and would not have had to work those extra hours, or pay for. Food for several months all for free. Despite this fact we realized it was unrealistic for us to keep all those things when we didn’t even use it, whilst we gave some out to friends who needed them, we also decided that we could collect the would be wasted food on a daily basis and we started donating to a food shelter. We donated to a few shelters but there was one particular one we went to that on a daily basis not only gave out boxes of food to those in need but also provided cooked meals and it just so happened that the day we donated the bread and butter products, they were having a big breakfast drive and were just preparing the toast, they said they were just about to send someone out for some butter as they were running out but they no longer had to. They even asked us if we wanted to help, and maybe join the staff and the service users for breakfast. Whilst we declined to have breakfast, we did help butter some bread. The sense of community in that room felt so warm and welcoming, you could tell everyone there wanted to help and it was uplifting.
Honestly the difference one good deed can make is so rewarding. I know they say you shouldn’t do a good deed if it’s for yourself, but can’t it be for both? To help others and to feel good for yourself.
I feel like there’s so much evil happening in life, and people nowadays just want to focus on themselves, and yet if we all did one good thing for one another, a lot of hate will be illuminated, and don’t we all just need that right now?
Imagine if the one good thing you did today, was for someone who has literally lost everything? Imagine how huge that could be for that person? Living your life to help others will give you so much more satisfaction that selfishness will ever do and even in your busy schedule, you’ll always have time to help out in some small way.
I know this sounds super preachy but I just wanted to share how a small act has helped Scott and I feel a little more grateful, a little luckier and a little happier. When times get tough we feel a little more accomplished knowing that at one point in our lives we have helped a family have a warm dinner, and isn’t that such a powerful thought?
Do something to make your parents proud today, your kids proud someday, and you proud everyday!
Peace and Love,