Life Lesson #8: Don’t just WISH to be helpful, DO something good today.
Do Something Good Today – Our Teachers
If you’ve read my blog for awhile you’ll know I don’t take credit for much of the wisdom I write about — instead, I view myself as more of a curator of helpful tips about life. From that perspective, my job is clear — to gather the wisdom from wherever it may be found and bring it to your attention.
Such is the case today’s lesson — inspired by Dr. Seuss, Robert Frost, and William Penn.
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Doing Good – Starts with a Choice
I know this may sound cliche but from a poetic standpoint, one of my favorite works is “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost.
One piece of advice about poetry that I got looooong ago (from my 9th grade English Teacher) was that “to truly understand and appreciate a poem you need to read it at least seven times to even begin to unlock its mysteries.” Whether that’s true or not is perhaps a subject for another time (to be honest I’ve always thought that advice sounded a bit too much like it came from “J. Evans Prichard, Ph.D.” of Dead Poets Society infamy, but I digress).
The good news here is that you don’t need to read Frost’s poem 7 times to appreciate it’s wisdom — I promise you’ll love it from the first time because it’s that good.
And because this poem applies directly to our discussion today I’d like to share it with you in full…
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and sorry I could not travel both and be one traveler, long I stood, and looked down one as far as I could to where it bent in the undergrowth; Then took the other, as just as fair, and having perhaps the better claim, because it was grassy and wanted wear; though as for that the passing there had worn them really about the same, and both that morning equally lay in leaves no step had trodden black. Oh, I kept the first for another day! Yet knowing how way leads on to way, I doubted if I should ever come back. I shall be telling this with a sigh, somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.
Two Roads… Your Choice…
Life is full of different paths to choose from – some of those paths lead to you do something good to help others, other may seeing you deferring that helping hand till another day.
More often than not you will have every intention to return to those ‘other’ roads and do something good, but if you’re honest with yourself, you’ll soon discover that most of the time (in spite of your best intentions) you never actually do return to that ‘other’ path and thus you miss out on a lot of opportunities to be helpful. Why? Because as Frost writes ‘way leads on to way’ and life takes you elsewhere.
When we miss the opportunity to do something good, we diminish our part in the great play of Life.
Make the World Better – TODAY
To help ensure you don’t miss your opportunity to make the world a better place, I’d recommend you keep this other bit of verse in mind…
I may not pass this way again…
I first heard Penn’s(2) words 30 years ago… and the quote has stuck in my head ever since. I often repeat it to myself when I’m out and about running errands or at work – it reminds me to always be on the lookout to be helpful and more often than not it gives me that ‘extra kick’ I need to not just think about doing good but instead to actually take action and help out.
3 Simple Ways to Do Something Good Today
Being helpful is not hard. Here are some easy ones to get you started…
- You’re on the elevator and you see a stranger who seems a bit sad or quiet.
- Perhaps a kind word from you will turn their day from gloomy to bright, perhaps even save their life?
- What did it cost you? Nothing.
- And while you may never know the outcome of your kindness, to that other person it could mean the world.
- You’re in a store parking lot and you see an older person struggling to put their groceries in their car.
- Perhaps you take a moment out of your day and help them load their bags.
- Perhaps a passerby sees you and gets inspired to help someone they see later that day as well.
- Who knows – maybe someone else could see them and does the same.
- And so on and so forth.
- Suddenly, due to something YOU started with a small act of kindness, helps the world becomes a better place.
- You’re a student and you notice a classmate is really struggling but nobody seems to know why or care.
- What nobody knows is that your classmate’s family doesn’t have enough money to put enough food on the table at home and thus your classmate is hungry – truly starving.
- Seeing your classmate has at the lunch table and seeing how they look at your food, you decide to quietly break your sandwich in half and slide some over to them.
- Nobody else has to know.
- Your classmate smiles and eats.
- Their day is a bit brighter…and so is yours.
You get the idea. It’s not rocket science.
I’m sure YOU have lots of examples you can share too — BTW I’d love to hear them and I DO read them so please add them to the comments below and we can all learn together.
Meanwhile, the point is this…
Do not wait to do your good deeds, do them NOW.
Remember, there is no guarantee that you or the person you are doing them for will meet again. The world is constantly moving and you with it.
Take every opportunity to do something good today and you’ll be making the world a better place for all of us.
And you’ll feel great about yourself too!
- Today’s lesson came from a book Jax and I wrote called Diary of a Minecraft Dad
- There is some speculation ‘on the internet’ that this quote may not come directly from William Penn and his Quakers of Pennsylvania. To me it doesn’t really matter – regardless of who said it, the fact is that it is a wonderful piece of wisdom to remember and apply in your daily life, right?