No act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted. – Aesop
This is a story of a young student who worked as an intern in my office at a local college. Several of us in the office were working late one evening to meet a deadline when this student looked at his watch and said, “Ohmygod! It’s 10 o’clock and I haven’t done my good deed yet today.” Heading for the door he called over his shoulder, “I’ll be right back.”
None of us knew what he was talking about, so when he returned a few minutes later, we were all curious to know about this “good deed” thing. He explained that his father had taught him to do an anonymous good deed every day and that he had been doing so since he was a young child.
“It can be anything, big or small,” he said, “but the important thing to remember is that it must be done anonymously.”
We asked the student if it wasn’t sometimes difficult to ‘find’ good deeds to perform. He said that he was so attuned to looking for opportunities to do good deeds that he never had any problem finding them.
He went on to give us some examples of good deeds – picking up and properly disposing of litter, holding the door open for an elderly person, giving anonymously to a charity, dropping off magazines at a nursing home, helping a stranded motorist, calling the local municipal authorities to report a roadway hazard or, if possible, removing the hazard yourself. The key is to do the deed without letting anyone know that you are doing it!
When we asked him what he had just done tonight, he smiled and said, “Well, if I told you, then it wouldn’t be anonymous, would it?”
That was over thirty years ago and I’ve never forgotten what this young man taught me. It was actually a version of the now famous mantra: “Practice random kindness and senseless acts of beauty.”
Since that time, I have not been as diligent about doing an anonymous good deed every day, but I do them often. I have found that the mere act of doing something good for someone or for the planet without anyone knowing, fills me with a child-like inner joy.
A Course in Miracles tells us that the “cost of giving is receiving.” In that context, I have come to understand that whenever we give, we always experience a positive energy exchange, and thus, giving is the same as receiving. The more we give, the more we receive.
This was a powerful and life-changing idea for me. Just imagine the joy we could create in the world if everyone opened up to the harmonious continuum of giving and receiving.