"What good shall I do today?"
Saturday morning I opened my Facebook stream to this quote. It was taken from a page in Ben Franklin’s daily diary. It actually reads, "The morning question: What good shall I do today? " So simple and yet, so profound.
As I started my year review almost two months ago and am still looking at what is next, this quote really struck me. It is one of the foundational questions, ideally, a person on the path would ask. I do carry this value in my heart. The days I see clients, the conscious energy I set is to always do my highest and best for the highest and best of my clients. The other days, I don't think about "doing good" in the same way. Why not? Shouldn't I do good every day? Do I do good every day? I hope so. It is my intent to do so.
To start each day beginning today with this conscious thought over morning coffee — wow! What a difference it could make!
Granted, some days, the good we do is to simply get through the day with a modicum of grace and smiles on our faces. And yet, having the intent of doing good today in our heads and our hearts can change the whole tenor of our experience.
It can bring us to do more random acts of kindness. It can help us take a deep breath before we yell at someone. It can support us in making the decision to give blood on the way home from work. It can encourage us - just enough - to take that walk after dinner instead of flopping on the couch in front of the TV.
He did not say, "What good shall I do for the world? " Good can be for ourselves. In fact, some of the best good we can do is for ourselves. We have all heard that our service to humanity is to be an overflow of our own well being. When we are filled, the good we do in the world is genuine and much more effective.
And then, Mr. Franklin's evening question was the other half of this gem:
"What good have I done today? "
This also touched me because we often do not take the time to consider our days. We often rush through and are quite spent so it is difficult to remember and acknowledge to ourselves just how loving and giving we are. In one of the classes I teach, I ask the students to keep a Gratitude Journal. It is a small book they keep by the side of their bed. Each night they are to write ten things for which they are "greatful ". (Greatful means full of greatness.)
These can be big things. More often and more importantly, they are the small things in everyday life. When students start out, they can barely think of five things. After a week or so, they can barely contain their list to ten. This practice has great effect on their lives:
In reviewing their lives on a daily basis, they become more conscious of their actions, thoughts, environment and interactions.
Their lives begin to change without effort because of this consciousness.
They become happier. Here are four reasons. There are more
a. They begin making better choices
b. They sleep better because they are
going to sleep with joyful thoughts
versus news or drama.
c. They wake up with more energy.
Some things they are greatful for are the flowers in bloom that they are now aware of, something that a pet has done that is cute or entertaining — and even getting chores done. Often they mention that they are greatful for the smiles they are receiving from total strangers on the street. It usually takes them a while to realize this is happening because they are smiling without knowing it!
The point is, that in doing good for themselves, they are unconsciously and authentically acknowledging other people and receiving that kindness in return. They are doing the greatest good they can do, bringing real joy to others. It is simple, but hard to do when we are exhausted, overwhelmed, traumatized or in grief.
Good in the world can be big and big is certainly needed. Humanitarian acts are the expansion that naturally come from doing good for ourselves, in recognizing what we are doing and taking that healing into our whole selves.
May you do good today and every day. And, greater than that, may you take the love of doing good into your heart and allow it to change your life.
Red Hot & Holy discussion group
- Third Saturday of each month starting January 18
- Times: 8a PT, 9a MT, 10a CT, 11a ET
- Cost: Free
- Space limited to 15 people (attendance will vary from month to month)
- Teleconference (you receive number & code when you sign up by email)
Red Hot & Holy is a story about a woman's Spiritual awakening and path. The book is by Sera Beak. Many of you are reading it and have expressed a desire to discuss it with other women. The first week will be overall impressions, questions and discussion of the first chapter. We will decide as a group how we proceed from there.
Sign up early. This shall be great fun!