One of the things I learned as a spiritual exercise years ago was that I should do nice things for people and not get found out. This got me thinking of doing nice things because I wanted to be nice, rather than I want others to think I’m nice. This has been an important distinction.
On the other hand, in trying to write about being nice, and the world seems to really need people focusing on being nice, does this become a reason to tell others when I’ve been nice? In short, if I write about it here, am I still being nice just to be nice? Or does it go back to stroking my ego?
In the process of thinking about setting this up I talked with one of the people here about the need for ‘activist cookies’. I need (and I suspect many other people need) some sort of feedback, or social normalization about kindness. Sure, I should want to do these things even if no one ever finds out, but if I want to encourage society to change to be nicer, then the kindness of others should be shared. Somehow.
So I don’t know what to do. Help?
3 thoughts on “If someone finds out does it count?”
I think the notion of stealthy kindness has a worthy goal. But the goal here (normalizing kindness) is also a worthy goal. So while you may get some personal validation from feedback when sharing a kindness you’ve done, that’s not the reason you’re sharing it. You’re sharing it to normalize kindness. I think the motivation is an important distinction. You aren’t sharing an act of kindness so people will say “oh, that was very kind, you’re a nice person!” And if we do say that, that’s still not why you shared it, just a side effect.
The importance for me is knowing the recipient of my kindness is unaware. If I don’t share my act with others, if I remain anonymous, who can I inspire to join in my kindness crusade?
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Yes, it does, at some level come down to motives. I do wish to normalize kindness, and general generosity of spirit. In some ways, I want to feel big enough that I can be generous.