She was tiny, ancient, and very, very slow. The old woman, stooped with osteoporosis and carrying a large grocery bag, inched toward the supermarket entrance. “Can I help you?” I asked. She said yes without hesitation and handed me the bag (it was feather-light).
Minutes later we reached the customer service counter. She touched my arm with her small, nearly-translucent hand and thanked me again, beaming.
And suddenly, a feeling of warm fuzziness surged through me. It was way more than nice. It was wonderful. I was amazed that this small good deed could deliver so much instant gratification.
The Caregiver Perspective
Working at CaringBridge, where we venerate and communicate with caregivers every day, I wondered if this was how they felt all the time. Probably not, since what I’d done was the “sprint” of a spur-of-the-moment act of kindness, while caregivers are on more of a compassionate marathon.
All the more reason they should be respected: their rewards are earned with much harder, longer-term dedication.
The Boy Scouts Were Right
I remembered the Boy Scout rule about doing one good deed a day. But they never mentioned the reward: the feeling of selflessness, the micro-heroism of helping others.
So that initial act of kindness led to several more that week.
- There was the Twins-capped kid at Costco, maybe three, trying to pull a shopping cart loose. I helped. His dad, standing to the side, thanked me quietly. Later I saw the kid squirming happily in the cart seat with dad pushing – cap off now, bald, with a little bald-headed companion doll in the seat with him. I teared up.
- A few days later, it was the Somali woman at the Laundromat. Could I change a $100 bill? No, but I could (and did) drive to an ATM, return with five twenties, and receive a nice “God Bless You” from her.
- Finally, the turtles. I stopped twice to grab a couple of them crossing roadways, transporting them to nearby bodies of water (in Minnesota, there’s usually a lake within a block or two of wherever you are).
A Very Good Habit
Each of my very small good turns that week delivered its own on-the-spot reward: the indescribable feeling of satisfaction from helping another person (or turtle) with no expectation of reward. So my good deed mission – a helping hand here, a kind word there – will continue.
Look around. There are opportunities to help people everywhere, all the time – in big and small ways. Every good deed will make you happy.
Pay it Forward – Share This Post
Please pass this article on to someone you care about. And share stories about your own good deeds – as a caregiver or otherwise – and about times you’ve benefited from someone else’s act of kindness.
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