“What good shall I do this day?”
I think of myself as a good person. I am generally nice, relatively honest and avoid road rage in most instances. Good person, right? I considered this as I read a short story about Benjamin Franklin.
Each morning and evening Mr. Franklin asked himself two questions, “What good shall I do this day?” and “What good have I done today?” Both questions require reflection and intentionality.
These questions brought me to a realization; good people do not ask these questions, great people do. You see, good people can tell you what they do, just like I can tell what I do. Going beyond that requires asking yourself how you can live with purpose, the goal being not to maintain the status quo but to push it beyond its current state.
To look further into the topic, consider this. The difference between saying you want to do good and being able to answer as to what that means on a daily basis is what draws the line between good intentions and great people. It is all well and good to talk about what this means, I find that I am very good at talking about what it means to be a good person and even better at pointing out how bad other people are. But we want to go beyond well and good to achieve more than “fine.”
If neither of the questions from above help you answer what it means to be great, try this one and paint out a scenario. What would happen if we all woke up each day and decided to love the world? What would it mean to wake up each day, committing to love the earth and its people?
I don’t know that humanity is any more hateful today than it was in the past, but without a doubt we have more ways of acting like it. In a world where pain is news and hate is shared (even in the condemnation of it), it is our responsibility to do more than maintain what is said to be normal.
We talk a lot, myself included, about what is wrong. Many of us feel good about ourselves because we commit no newsworthy acts of hatred or anger. How do we move beyond that? I believe that asking any of the questions above is a great start, but even then, many of us feel like we do enough. At least we do more than others, right? Perhaps, but now let’s even out the playing field.
Wherever you are and however you act on a day to day basis, make that your starting point or baseline. No matter how good or bad of a person you are, start at zero and ask what it means to be one percent better today. How could you be an even slightly better person today? If you struggle to see any good in yourself, then do something simple, pick up a piece of trash as you walk through the parking lot or give away a dollar without questioning its use. On the flip side, if you feel high and mighty in your everyday greatness, remember that you have been reduced to a zero. What can a great person do to love the world a little more today?Go to sleep tonight and ask yourself what it means to love the world.
What good shall I do this day?