Do-Gooding

by Leslie Sann

Seek out the good and your mind will fill with happiness.
John Templeton

Backing my car out from my spot in front of the farm store with a dozen just-laid eggs and some ripe tomatoes sitting safely on the front seat of my car, I notice there is a black-and-white burly male goat wandering around the parking lot. I see him not only in my rear view mirror but in that camera thing my car has that alerts me if there is something behind me that I might hit if I’m not careful.

Also in the parking lot are a man holding a small child’s hand and a woman holding a smaller child in her arms. I imagine they are a family picking up their weekly groceries at the co-op inside. As I’m reversing out of my spot, I see the woman running around the lot. I’m not quite sure why and every time I go to move my car she seems to be in the way.

I bring my car to a complete stop and observe the situation. I realize she’s trying to ‘help’ me by chasing the goat out of my way. The more she tries to help, the more the goat runs from her, and the more the woman is in my way. I can’t get out of the parking spot and I’m getting annoyed.

I lower my window, make eye contact with the woman, thank her for her help. I ask her to stop — please. I let her know I can handle it and thank her again.

As I drive away I wonder how often I have done that, gone out of my way to help somebody who didn’t ask, only making more of a problem than was there originally?

One of my mentors calls it being a do-gooder.

I am a recovering do-gooder.

The thing about do-gooding in my experience is, just like the woman who was trying to help me in the parking lot, instead of gratitude from me, she received annoyance. I drove away and she probably thought I was, you know, what do they call it, it starts with a B?

And because I’m the way I’m wired, my brain was calling me a B for not being grateful to her for getting in my way and making my life more challenging.

All of that is unnecessary.

If she had taken a moment and observed the situation, she could’ve easily figured out I was OK. And if I wasn’t, I’m old enough to ask for help.

Or she could have asked me if I would like her assistance and in doing so we could partner as to what action was best.

So this little story is about the goodhearted well-meaning woman in the parking lot, the burly black-and-white goat, and the driver in my car, which was me. And this story is about you. It is about all of us.

How often do we do more than asked for, fail to get appreciation for our good deeds, and then end up in a pile of resentment because we weren’t noticed, appreciated, applauded, recognized? instead of looking at how we created the situation by showing up in ways that were uninvited, thereby turning out to be less than appreciated, we blame the other for their ingratitude.

It feels good to do-good, but not when uninvited, unneeded or unasked. So let’s do-good for the good! Let’s pay attention to what needs our attention and leave the rest alone.

Yours from Planet Joy,