“Every man is guilty of all the good he didn’t do.” – Voltaire
Doing good in life is a conscious choice that each of us make on our own terms. For this fact, we can be guilty of not doing good–and for much of our lives, we have never really thought about it this way. Instead, we felt doing good as simply being charitable, as being the type of person who has a lot and wishes to give some of that to others. But here, Voltaire tells us quite simply that it is a duty that we are held accountable for.
Why do people do good things sometimes and not-so-good things at other times? Usually it comes down to a couple of criteria–which choice would give them the most benefit, or which choice would help them to avoid pain or unpleasantness. However, such a view is purely self-centered and exhibits no altruistic qualities at all. We are accountable for all that we do in this life–the good we spread in the world as well as the bad. And if we recognize this and start to live our lives in such a manner, we will find ourselves in sync with the positive energy that so many people contribute to–the energy of compassion and true charity. Our good acts energize us and they energize the recipients of the acts, and selfishness is not just put aside, but defeated entirely.
By being held accountable for the good that I do, I find that I want my acts to contribute to the good of the world–to the peace, fulfillment, appreciation, gratitude, and all the other positive energies. Living our lives in a manner that is focused on others and giving to others, even if it is in the form of intangibles such as encouragement or a simple smile, can and should be something we strive to achieve each day of our lives.
Perform good deed with no expectation of personal gain or benefit.
Questions to consider:
Do you do good acts naturally, or do you have to think about them before you do them?
What are your favorite types of good acts that you perform? How often do you perform them?
What are the visible effects on others when you perform good acts? On yourself?
For further thought:
“Get a life in which you are generous. Look around at the azaleas in the suburban neighborhood where you grew up; look at a full moon hanging silver in a black, black sky on a cold night. And realize that life is the best thing ever, and that you have no business taking it for granted. Care so deeply about its goodness that you want to spread it around. Take money… and give it to charity. Work in a soup kitchen. Be a Big Brother or Sister. . . . You want to do well, but if you do not do good too, then doing well will never be enough.” – Anna Quindlen