The Heart That Goes Out Of Itself

“Beautiful it is to see and understand that no worth, known or unknown, can die even in this earth. The work an unknown good man has done is like a vein of water flowing hidden underground, secretly making the ground green.” ~ Thomas Carlyle, The Works of Thomas Carlyle … 

It can be discouraging and frustrating when others fail to notice the good that we do for them in their lives, especially when so much of it is never seen or recognized and remains concealed beneath the surface like “water flowing hidden underground.” Or perhaps we are tired or disheartened, hurting or afraid, lost or alone, and things are not going that well in our lives. Tapping into our reserves to provide for others seems like an incredibly difficult thing, especially when the supply appears limited. But the good we pour forth into the lives of others makes this world a much more beautiful place, overflowing back onto us and helping to fill our cup as well, and no joy or kindness, no single act or word that giving and dually received, is insignificant or meaningless; the world needs us all to contribute positively to it–to make the ground green for others living here.

As Thomas points out, the work we do that is unknown to others nourishes everyone and everything around us… and it does so secretly. The beauty of such work is that it remains authentic in purpose and form, for once we seek recognition for a good act we commit, the act changes. No longer is it motivated by the desire to do good–of pure giving–but is now also motivated by the desire for accolades–of also receiving in return. And once that is the case, the substance of the act changes, and we are now faced with the prospect of not receiving the reaction that we desire and seek, which sets up for feeling awful, or even worse, attempting to make others feel awful because they did not react how we had hoped they would.

The world needs us to do good work for others because they need us and are counting on us. Such good works must continue on regardless of whether we receive compliments or acknowledgment of our contributions, or whether we are frustrated or afraid, for the green ground can only remain so with the nourishment of us. And the lack of such acknowledgment or praise does not diminish our work in any way.

Perform a good work that contributes positively to the life of someone else, and do so secretly.

Questions to consider:

Why do we so often want to be recognized for the good things that we have done when we have done them?

What kinds of good things have you done recently, for which you have received no acknowledgment?

Whom do you know who does good things for people without asking for recognition? How do those people approach life?

For further thought:

“Doing nothing for others is the undoing of one’s self. We must be purposely kind and generous, or we miss the best part of existence. The heart that goes out of itself gets large, and full of joy. This is the great secret of the inner life. We do ourselves the most good doing something for others.” ~ Horace Mann


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Filed under Commentary, Food For Thought, Living, Opinion

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