A few years back, I sat in the driver’s seat of my car and told my young daughter that the most unselfish acts in the world are essentially selfish ones. She gave me a look then that would make you giggle. “Oh Mama”, she said, “you make my brain hurt!”
I laughed in the moment then and went on to explain that we do good deeds to feel good, because we get something back in return. The end goal is always our benefit, otherwise we would not do it. It’s for certain that we would not do it again!
Happiness is not as complicated as it seems. Really it isn’t! If, I told her, we do things for others because we feel good, then why not do even more? It seems to me, the more we do for others, the more we benefit and the happier we feel. It follows that we will want to do even more because we are just basically selfish and strive to make ourselves the happiest we can be.
At a time where the world is in an ever-increasing state of unrest, we focus on war, violence and hate. Daily we push our way to the front of the line and close traffic gaps to not let anyone merge into our lane. We grab the last item on the shelf before anyone else, if it is the object of our desire. We don’t return shopping carts to their rightful place, for fear of losing those few valuable moments that could be used elsewhere. We pay no heed to the potential damage that could ensue. What do we care? Why should we care? These things won’t affect us! We WILL get to the front of the line. We won’t get delayed by that ONE car we let in front of us. We don’t starve because we did beat that sad old lady to get that last can of tomatoes. We were able to save valuable time by not having to return that shopping cart! That cart won’t roll into the side of MY car! It’s not MY problem now.
What about the counter top in the public washroom left saturated with water after your son washed his hands? Someone gets paid to clean that, after all. You ARE helping someone stay employed. You are a GOOD contributing member of society! You were able to get your son to clean his hands. You are a GREAT parent! You saved TIME. You are wise AND efficient! You are a benefit to society. You should be given a medal! You have set such a great example and know that your son will grow up to be just like you. Lucky you! You must be so proud of your accomplishments! Well, maybe not so much!
A dear friend once gave me a solid bit of advice that has stuck with me for years. He said, “Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change.” I had no idea then how many times these same words would echo in my mind. I used to roll my eyes at his endless, repetitive ranting, but his words rang true then as they do now.
So maybe instead of pushing our way to the front of the line, we take our time to meet a new friend through the wait. Instead of taking the last item on the shelf at the grocery store, we let the old lady spend her remaining pension money for her dinner. Perhaps instead of leaving the cart in the parking lot, you return it to its carousel so Fred doesn’t have to pay for the car repairs out of his last pay cheque. As for the sink in the washroom, why not just tidy up after yourself? Perhaps you will save someone grief, perhaps you will save someone from damaging a new suit. Maybe, a good deed and some uncommon sense might just make someone smile.
In a hard world full of anger and violence, the gift of a smile is a great one and nets a far greatest rate of return than being first! Go ahead and make yourself happy. Be selfish and give because it is, of course, all about you.
Be happy. Give a lot. Love “for all you’re worth”.
Until next time, have some uncommon sense.