Giving up your seat on the train, throwing a coin in a busker’s hat, picking up some shopping for a housebound neighbour – we can all think of a few good deeds we occasionally perform. But, according to one happiness expert, we should all aim to do five good deeds a day for good karma.
When I pointed this out to my daughters, they were shocked. ‘Five? That’s A LOT!’
I think they’re right. Instead of counting my blessings at the end of every day I’m going to try counting my good deeds – and I bet they’ll rarely meet the target five.
My oldest daughter pointed out that she rarely gets a train seat to give up. Yes, she has a point – we may have to hunt around for good deeds we can do, and our day may not even lend itself to doing good deeds very easily.
Reviewing my own routine, I can only think of a few good deeds I regularly perform:
. Always buying The Big Issue from Florentina, who sits outside my local Waitrose, and now calls me “My Friend”.
. Passing on tips to editors and journalists looking for help via email alerts - because I know what it’s like to be up against a deadline and, if I needed help, I’d welcome any leads I could get.
. Digging out any helpful health advice for friends and acquaintances who need it.
. Giving away my freebie goody-bag contents to people who will benefit from them.
. Collecting my daughters from the station when I look at the weather and know how much I would want a lift home if it was me...
That’s five – but not five a day!!
And let's not forget that for a good deed to be a truly good deed it must not have obvious pay-offs for you. I like the story I heard recently about a woman who had been given an apple. Five minutes later she passed a homeless woman in the street and gave the apple to her. The next day, quite randomly, a member of staff at the hotel where she was staying offered her a new apple from a bowl he was carrying.
. Some friends fight me to pay the coffee bill, or put a big tip on the saucer.
. My mum plays scrabble with ladies who are 20 years older than her, wraps Christmas charity parcels for children in war-torn countries, and puts notes not coins in the church collection.
. My oldest daughter always scoops up any friend in need.
. My youngest daughter lends out favourite items of clothing.
. My husband gives freebie home made chocolates to dinner party clients, or drives across London to buy truffles from Borough Market instead of persuading a client to have something else.
But, more poignantly, there must be opportunities for good deeds I miss every day. For example,
. I always put the phone down on cold callers, instead of remembering it is just their miserable job and I am not improving their day.
. I rarely pay for extra time at the gym car park, and end up rushing out after classes when staying a few extra minutes would give me time to catch up on friends' news.
. I could make a point of emptying the dishwasher instead of leaving it for my husband to do...
Verdict: Must try harder....