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How Much Good Can One Person Do?


It's very easy to look at someone else - especially someone who has had incredible financial success and say "they should be doing more to help..."(fill in the blank of the nearly infinite number of groups who could use some assistance). Yet when it comes to how much good they themselves are putting into the world, it is most likely they are never judged or questioned on it - and it is the only "good being put in to the world" they can control.


If you have financial means, then giving a portion of it to do good is easy enough - but how much good can one person actually do? Outside of the financial potion of doing good - how much more can one person do to put good into the world?


Well, I guess you would have to define what doing good means. A perspective on this could be defining doing good as taking complete and total responsibility for one's thoughts, words, and actions - and aiming each of those toward the best possible outcome for oneself as well as for the benefit of others. Again, that's a perspective...there are (I'm sure) many other perspectives on defining what doing good means, but I'll stick with that one for now.


Based on this perspective or definition, how much good can one person do? What would happen if you put this to the test? Pick one hour to spend thinking"good" thoughts (again - taking full responsibility for what and how you think), speaking to others openly, honestly, respectfully, and truthfully - and doing the best you possibly could with whatever task that needed to be done during that hour (with the understanding that it was aimed at something purposeful and/or meaningful).


This could be the first hour when you wake up in the morning - it could be an hour at work, during lunch, or after work with family - or spending time with others whom you care about or volunteering for complete and total strangers. It would be an interesting test to say the least. As part of the test, you would have to commit to only focusing on what you could control - especially if you were expecting a particular outcome or response and the result was different from what you expected.



It would seem logical that doing this test for an hour would result in having a "good" hour. If that logic were to hold true, the next step or test would be trying to do good (following the same rules and assumptions as described during the test hour) for an entire day. If that seems too daunting of a task - perhaps work on the hour test each day for a week and even pick out different hour time slots during the day (morning, working hours, after work, etc.). Then you could move on to trying it for a full day. This might become an exercise that is exhausting, but what would you rather do - be exhausted from doing "too much" good, or be exhausted from not doing good? Sounds silly, but spend a few minutes actually giving that some thought.


Continue playing this logic out - if you spent an entire day doing as much good as possible, then you would essentially have a good day. this doesn't imply you should simply allow yourself to be taken advantage of or to become naive about how people should behave - it's all about how much you can control and...if you want to live in a world that is a little better place to live in, then why wouldn't you want to do your part and do some good?


What if you did this "test" for a few hours a day? A few days per week? A few weeks per month? Before you know it, you'll be living a "good" life. Circling back to the original question - how much good can one person do? It seems clear the answer is - a lifetime's worth of good is what one person could do, if that is what they focus on controlling.


How much good can you do this next hour?

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