A few months ago I took the decision to do something nice for someone everyday. It seemed like a big deal at the time, I mean, I’m not normally horrible to people, but having to do something nice everyday felt like a big task. Especially given that I have the worlds worst memory; how was I going to remember to do it?
So I started out on this good deed journey a little daunted, thinking that possibly this was going to cost me a lot of money, because one of the easiest ways to be nice is to buy someone something, and I’m all for the easy route!
Sometimes it does cost money, but not the bucket loads I was expecting. In January I asked for 5 friends to let me know if they wanted a random gift from me at some point in the year. I signed them up, and I’m gradually going through them sending them small gifts that are not for any reason but that I was thinking of them. So that’s 5 days of the year sorted.
There being another 360 days in the year to account for, I started to look out for more opportunities to do a good deed. Things like helping carry a buggy up the stairs at the train station, or going out of my way to open a door for someone struggling with bags etc.
Some days no specific opportunity to do a good deed arises, or maybe I have just been tired, and can’t see for looking, so I have had to think of other ways in which I can do something nice and I soon realised that I don’t actually have to do a lot to be nice. For example I might just tell someone that they look lovely (only if they actually do), whereas maybe in the past I would have just thought it. I stopped to check that someone at the tube station was ok, when I noticed they were so drunk they couldn’t stand. He was fine, waiting for friends, but I was glad I’d checked.
In our services we have Peer Mentors who work with others to help them achieve recovery from addiction. At a couple of meetings I’d seen and heard what a fantastic job one of them was doing, so when she told me that she was moving to another one of my establishments I told her that I would email them to tell her of the good work she was doing and that I’d love it if she could continue it after her move. I wrote a 10 line email to the service. It took me 30 seconds or less and I copied in her manager. The next day I received a lovely email thanking me for putting myself out to help her. That she was amazed I’d bothered and it meant a lot to her. It made me think about how the little things we do can have a ripple effect. 30 seconds of my time could mean the difference between her sinking or swimming in the move to another prison. It reaffirmed my commitment to being nice.
This good deed feed has had unintended consequences too. I stopped to help someone broken down on the M25 and unbeknown to me it was an old friend I hadn’t seen for years, we had a quick catch up before I jumped his car and he went on his way. It did my soul good to see him alive and well. Another time I helped someone with some work and they helped me out when I desperately needed it. I like to think of it as a kind of karma.
I’m no angel. Some days I go to bed thinking of all the harm that I’ve done by arguing, shouting or my other actions. I struggle to cope, I feel like crying; I’m sure that I am a terrible person. Poor C may think I’m actually a slight psychopath what with the neediness I portray. At times like those I cling onto doing a nice thing everyday, no matter what else I’ve done, hopefully I’ve made some one smile, or their day a bit easier, even if only, sometimes because of my complete stupidity.