Do Something Good Every Day. Goodness Is More Rewarding Than Money
Do something good every day for yourself and for others. Kindness is the best investment. It turns into good feelings, good experiences and good consequences. However, sometimes we forget about this when thinking about something much less crucial and vital to our lives: money.
Recently in the media there was a story of an elderly woman who kept the interesting promise she had made to her husband before he died. He asked her to bury all the money he and his wife had accumulated throughout their lives, and she carried out her task.
When asked by her relatives, she said she had deposited all the money in an account and that inside the coffin and she had placed a check for the value of that amount so that when he woke up he could go cash it.
The truth is we will never know if this rich deceased man may be able to go into the bank with such an intention. What we do know is that the metaphor of this little story is enriching for us because it helps us rethink how we manage our lives.
There is life before death
In an interview with Eduardo Punset, a great science writer, he was asked about his favorite phrase or quote. He said that as a scientist he was impressed by one that he had read which was painted in one of the New York subway stations.
It reads as follows: “There is life before death.” Simple, easy and disconcerting.
There is some agreement that our current Western culture is rooted in certain historical periods. One of them is Greece and its classical philosophy and the other is the birth of Christianity, and the influence they have on this philosophy.
Throughout history, religions have felt the need to control society. Christianity, like other religions, was able to do so in past by emphasizing life as a preparation for death, for the encounter with God.
Somehow life has been set aside by directing our eyes towards the horizon, far away from the mud we stepped on. In other words, it was about surviving in order to live afterwards; to walk for a last, final and eternal reward.
What is left of paradise?
Religion during the twentieth century lost much of its power, its ability to lead the way and to be heard and obeyed. However the embers from this way of seeking our essence remain.
We continue to look at the horizon, educating our children to study, prepare, learn a lot, earn a lot of money.
There is another story, a common children’s fable, that reflects this mentality….
“The cicada was happy, enjoying the summer: the sun was shining, the flowers gave off their scent… and the cicada sang and sang. Meanwhile her friend and neighbor, an ant, spent the whole day working, collecting food.
– Ant friend! Don’t you get tired of so much work? Rest awhile with me while I sing something for you. – The cicada said to the ant.
– It would be better for you to collect provisions for the winter and stop with all of your laziness – the ant responded while he busily transported the grain.
The cicada laughed and continued singing and ignoring her friend. Until one day, when she woke up, she felt the intense cold of winter. The trees were without leaves and snowflakes were falling from the sky while the cicada wandered field, frozen and hungry. From a distance she saw the house of her neighbor the ant, and went to him for help.
– Ant friend, I am cold and hungry. Won’t you give me something to eat? You have plenty of food and a warm house, while I have nothing.
The ant opened the door of his house and told the cicada:
– Tell me cicada friend, what were you doing while I got up early to work? What were you doing while I was carrying wheat grains back and forth?
– I sang and sang in the sunlight- answered the cicada.
– Is that what you did? Well if you were singing in the summer, now dance during the winter-
And he closed the door, leaving the cicada outside who had learned a lesson.
Moral: He who wishes to spend the winter well must take advantage of the time while he is young.
There is life before life
Psychologists speak of existential crises, of certain ages when we can be struck by a sense of confusion. These are moments when we look at our feet and we feel vertigo because we are not used to being aware that they are actually a reflection of time; they never stop.
“Being the richest man in the cemetery does not interest me… What I care about is going to bed every night knowing we’ve done something wonderful.”
I would say more than that phrase in the New York subway: There is life before what we think is life. Before knowing a lot, before having a lot of money, before getting married, retiring or having children. There is life before waking up tomorrow. Life is about moments, not the idea of a road or stages.
So it is best to do something good every day because kindness is much richer than money both during life and at the end. At the end of the day it is about sowing to harvest, so the question that we face is: what’s better than planting kindness to collect wealth? The answer is clear: without good feelings, the truth is that at the end of our lives we will have…NOTHING.
Therefore, it is crucial that we keep this thought very present, “Do something good each day, for goodness gives us true vital wealth, not money.” That will be our true reward: living life.