Goodness and Practicing Goodness

Photo by Sandrachile . on Unsplash

What do you think of when you think of Goodness?

Several years back, many more now when I think about the actual occasion, I told a friend about a woman who I thought was not a very kind person but who showed great compassion to someone else by offering him shelter after Hurricane Katrina. He asked: “did she tell everyone about it?” My response: “Well, yes, she did.”

My friend is very smart, very compassionate, and very observant. He said: “If you tell everyone about your good deed, your good deed becomes less a good deed and more a pat on the back for you. If you do your good deed and no one knows, that’s a good deed.”

His words resonated with me. If you do a good deed and no one knows then it’s only between you and the person you’ve helped. You are not seeking appreciation or a pat on the back. You’ve done something good and that is it’s own reward. Shouldn’t it be?

For 14 years, my friend’s words have resonated with me. If I do good, I try not to boast because it undermines what I’ve done simply by making it about me. Doing good should not be self-aggrandizement.

What do you think?

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12 replies »

  1. I think there is a difference between bragging about something you’ve done in an effort to get that praise and attention and simply sharing an experience. It is a very fine line, but I do think there is a difference. There are any number of reasons for a person to share about a good deed they’ve done that isn’t for the purpose of getting kudos.

    • I think you’re right (I usually do, heh). I may have had an inordinate amount of experience with individuals wanting a pat on the back.

      Perhaps the other question that comes up is: that good deed is still a good deed to the person who was helped….

      • It absolutely is. I also kind of look at it from the outside, at the people making those statements and critically judging someone for their efforts to do good and is that any better than the person looking for praise? It is kind of a whole can of worms.

      • That is one hugely debatable topic and often depends on who is talking about it. For me, I think it has to be the point where opinion in any form comes in.

      • Yikes. This is kind of like opening Pandora’s box, isn’t it? What if the opinion is a good opinion? Is that being judgmental, as so many people associate being judgmental as a bad thing? Also, is it being judgmental if that person has a questionable character trait (they like to kill small animals, for instance) and another observes it? We should write these up as blog posts. lol

      • My poor brain already hurts! I don’t think I want wander down that wormhole. This would easily be one of those conversations that an hour or two later, you look at each other and ask “How did we get on this topic again?!”

      • lol I know! It’s good to think about these things and talk about them. It’s one reason why I was always a huge fan of the philosophy courses I *had* to take in college. They opened my eyes and mind.

  2. I totally agree! However, you could also look at the person doing the “good deed” then telling others about it as providing inspiration for others to do good deeds as well.

  3. Echoing some of the comments: if someone found a starving, injured dog and took it home, nursed it back to health, found it a forever home…I wouldn’t care if they took out an ad telling everyone about it. Plus, as has been said, a good deed may inspire others. However, the Bible disagrees “Never let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.” And I agree with that. It’s enough that my friends know I support our local shelter. They don’t need to know I support it with $50,000/year…or $500/year. 🙂
    And all good deeds don’t need to be talked about–kindness should be as much a part of our day as putting on our shoes. And we don’t tell everyone about that, do we?

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