November 30
The work an unknown good person
has done is like a vein of water
flowing hidden underground,
secretly making the ground green.

Thomas Carlyle


Today's Meditation:

Sometimes I get very frustrated because all the good things that I try to do for others seem to be staying beneath the ground, never being seen, never being recognized.  But then I realize that in the big picture, that doesn't matter at all--the important thing is that the good works continue.  The frustration comes at times when I'm tired or when things aren't going well, and I know from experience that I can't trust my feelings during those times.

The simple fact is that this is how most of our good work should be done--as an unknown, in secret.  Why is that?  Because once we commit a good act or do a good work in order to be recognized for it, the act changes.  It's no longer motivated simply by the desire to do good, but it's now also motivated by the desire for accolades.  And when that's the case, the act changes, and we face the prospect of not getting the reaction that we desire.  And if we don't get that reaction, then we run the risk of feeling awful, or worse, trying to make others feel awful because they didn't react how we had hoped they would react.

The best of our work should be done for others, and it should be done simply for the sake of doing good.  Yes, it can get frustrating, but we all face times of frustration no matter what we do or how we do it.  When we can look proudly at the green ground which has been nourished by our contribution, we can take pride in our contribution, and then look for other areas that might need such nourishment.  Us receiving compliments or acknowledgment of our contribution will not change the fact that we've done something good, and not receiving praise for our work will not diminish the work in any way.

We do see others receiving accolades and rewards for their good work all the time.  They are who they are, and we are who we are.  Some of us toil in relative obscurity, others toil in the spotlight.  No matter where we are, we should not stop trying to do good for others, because they most definitely need us.

Questions to consider:

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

What kinds of good things have you done recently for which you've 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

More on goodness.


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