One of my friends is a Boy Scout leader. He told me that one of his scouts went to boot camp and the thing that got him through it was the intention to do a good deed daily. The result of this habit, acquired as a Boy Scout, was that several others in his class also made it through boot camp rather than quitting because of the good deeds this 1 scout did. It became a challenge. What can I do today that will be my good deed? Who needs an uplift? What can I do to help one of my classmates? What can I do to make the Drill Sergeant’s job easier? What’s that piece of paper doing on the floor, and does that count as a good deed? It did 2 things. It benefited the recipient of the good deed, and it kept the scout focused on issues other than his own. The over-arching question is this: How significant was this plan of action? Did other people in his class adopt this habit? Was his good deed the thing that kept a new recruit in the service and he later accomplished great things? Did the significance of his choice affect his future career–If he could get through boot camp by just doing the good deed, could he get through anything?
Look at the far reaching ramifications. What if everyone adopted this philosophy–to do a good deed daily? Isn’t that one of the basic tenets of a society? One for all and All for one? Do unto others? Seek not what your country can do for you? Isn’t the most detrimental part of the society we see now the tendency to ask “What’s in it for me?” Those people tend to think that their personal rewards are more important than the benefit to the society as a whole. Imagine the little cub scout standing on the corner near a granny with a walker. The light turns green and they start across. The light turns yellow and he’s down the block and granny is not across the street yet. The light turns red, the horns blare, granny has a heart attack. The scout leader asks the cub scout why he didn’t help granny cross the street. The cub scout replies, “I don’t like to have people honk their horns at me, and staying with her as she crossed the street wasn’t going to make her go faster. There was nothing in it for me, so I just went on my merry way.”
Must doing a good deed be the only daily habit that makes you significant? Of course not. But it is one way. What about writing (hand writing–not emailing!) a thank you note daily? What about improving your character daily by study and reflection? What about improving your job skills daily? The key to this is the word, DAILY. Focusing on your personal growth is always a good thing, but don’t neglect an act of kindness or a donation to the society as well. Nothing you do to make society better is insignificant, and nothing you do to improve yourself is insignificant.
If you just get up, shower, go to work, come home and veg out in front of the TV every day, I can guarantee you that the significance you have with your children might not be good significance. You may not be Hitler, but you’re no JFK either. You’re passing on an attitude of apathy. You’re passing on a philosophy of inaction. Is that significant? Not on the small scale, but think of the general behavior of the working people now! If 1 person does the grind and focuses all his attention on the TV or the game station, it wouldn’t have much effect, but you get thousands of people doing that, there will be consequences. Why does every TV have to have a 52″ screen, surround sound, perfect image, and internet and phone access? Because our whole worlds center around that electronic income sucker. It is all centered on self gratification.
What would have happened if TV’s had stayed at 13″ and black and white with antennae? What would have been the result if SMART phones were actually smart and didn’t allow you to play stupid games? Would we be interacting with more people on a physical basis? Would we be able to solve real-world, practical problems? Would we be more inclined to make the society better because we wouldn’t be distracted by watching scripted “reality” TV? (And that brings up this question: Why would you have to script reality?)
So yes, your approach to life and your philosophy of life can allow you to intentionally design a significant life.