I love to browse through arcane books and essays to see if there is something of value to learn or to just tick up my motivation level a smidgen.
I started flipping through an old biography of Benjamin Franklin because I admire the legacy of that amazing historical figure a great deal. I like to look over everyday, mundane parts of a person’s life to get a better, more realistic idea as to what makes that person tick. In my opinion, it’s not all about what outstanding, heroic deed that a person performed nor what infamous, destructive act a person committed. A person’s life is best summed up by the average, regular, day to day parts of his life.
I came across something innocently revealing and amazing. The idea I discovered was not surprising, though, when you think about Benjamin Franklin. The idea is a perfect fit for such an outstanding persona such as Dr. Franklin. The idea was located on each page of his daily calendar (daily planner in today’s lingo). He had two very simple but extremely powerful questions on each page. In the morning he asked himself, “What good shall I do this day?” In the evening his question was, “What good have I done today?” These were routine questions he asked each day and night of himself. A clue to that fact is that he set the type for the printed pages for his calendar in his printshop. Those questions were printed on each and every page.
If you or I asked ourselves those questions each day, I imagine that our lives would change for the better. If those questions are at the front of our minds at least a couple of times each day, especially at the very beginning and the very end, we’re bound to be thinking about good turns to perform. It will be a habit to seek out actions and words to enhance someone’s and your own day. Benjamin Franklin was a pragmatic man. What he did, spoke and wrote was also for his own benefit.
His Holiness The Dalai Lama has said many times that doing good things for other people is a very selfish act. When you perform a good turn or compliment someone sincerely, you benefit by feeling positive emotions. You also reap the selfish pleasure of a more upbeat disposition. Both of those and other good mental attitudes that are the product of doing something for another person or people that they would want for themselves. This increases your own mental and physical well-being.
It’s true! The warm fuzzies increase one’s lifespan!
So, what good have you done today? Yesterday? So far this month? You don’t need to leap buildings at a single bound to rescue a damsel in distress from the railroad tracks. No need to negotiate an alliance between France and the fledgling democratic republic of the USA. Those actions would be wonderful to perform, but they’re not all there is in the What good will you do today line of activity and speech.
Maybe you enjoy volunteering for an organization that helps the poor and indigent? Possibly you donate at the Red Cross Blood Bank? Doing so without making a big deal about self-publicity is even better. Maybe a neighbor would appreciate it if someone could walk the dog when she becomes ill. Perhaps just bathing your own dog. How about just listening to a friend when he’s feeling down and out? Volunteer without fanfare at a hospital to help people find their family member’s or friend’s hospital rooms.
Perhaps what good you do today might be to get started on that huge, earth-shattering project to improve mankind? Who knows?
Well, of course, you know in your heart of hearts what good you want to do today.
The Blue Jay of Happiness says that helping someone else get happy helps yourself get happy.