January 15


Today's quotation:

We ought to do good to others as simply and as naturally as a horse runs, or a bee makes honey, or a vine bears grapes season after season without thinking of the grapes it has borne.

Marcus Aurelius

Today's Meditation:

It came as a bit of a shock to me when I was old enough to realize that doing good is a conscious choice.  I hadn't been doing bad things all my life, of course, but I had never really thought about it before--why do people do good things?  Why did I do good things sometimes, and not-so-good things other times?  Usually it came down to a couple of criteria--which choice would give me the most benefit, or which choice would help me to avoid pain or unpleasantness.

My motivation was purely self-centered, though I didn't really see it that way.  I saw it as emotional and physical survival, and I didn't think about things like trusting life to take care of us or trying to spread good in the world.  As an adult child of an alcoholic, one of my primary motivations always was to avoid loss and to make sure that I was set for the future--I couldn't give away something that I might need next week or next month.

But when we start doing good acts--spreading goodness, if you will--we tune into something very important in life, something that's very universal.  We tune into the positive energy that so many people contribute to, the energy of compassion and charity.  Our good acts energize us and they energize the recipients of the acts, and selfishness is not just put aside, but defeated entirely.

Marcus Aurelius here is talking about a way of life, a manner of being that is focused on others, and on giving to others, even if the giving is in the form of intangibles such as encouragement or a simple smile.  And even though the recipients of our good acts benefit from them, we benefit even more, for we're practicing a lifestyle that leads to great levels of fulfillment, personally, emotionally, psychologically, and even physically, as our health improves dramatically as our mental state improves.

Doing good should be simple and natural.  One of my personal goals is to make goodness a way of life, and I don't mean that in a sentimental, insincere way.  I mean 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 that are in our world.

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:

Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as ever you can.

John Wesley

more thoughts and ideas on goodness



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