The rewards of doing a good deed each day: One woman’s pandemic experience

·2 min read

During the pandemic, we’ve each likely found a way to bring some new purpose to our lives. Some baked sourdough bread. Some got a puppy. Some learned to play a musical instrument.

One friend of mine took a different approach. She decided that every day, starting in April last year, she would do three tasks. First, every morning she completed some onerous chore, something that she hated doing but loved having done. Cleaning windows, tossing old clothes, scrubbing sinks. By doing it first thing in the day, she got it over and felt better about the rest of the day.

Next, she decided to get one hour of exercise in every day. That could be walking, riding her exercise bike, or doing some weight training. One hour. Every day.

Last, she would do one “good deed” daily. These tasks ranged from calling a friend or writing a hand written note to taking someone a book or shopping for her brother who wasn’t leaving his house.

Nancy Napier: Creativity
Nancy Napier: Creativity

When I asked how she chose the people to help, she said she thought about who might need a little extra attention that day and then decided what to do.

One person on her frequent list was an older woman, from England, who never had been a reader. When my friend took her a few books and then they talked about them, the woman felt like a new world had opened up for her. Then she had a bad fall and is now in a care facility, and my friend is not allowed in, which has been hard for her and her elderly friend. But she did make an Easter basket.

What I love about this is that it’s a win-win situation. The recipients feel good about what my friend has done for them, they feel like someone cares and takes the time to do something for them, and it often is the best part of their days. My friend reaps loads of benefits because she feels good about making someone’s day better.

I hope she continues her plan even as the pandemic lightens. I wonder if more of us could take up such plan. Small, not time consuming, but big payoffs.

Nancy Napier is a Boise State University distinguished professor. nnapier@boisestate.edu. She is co-author of “The Bridge Generation of Vietnam: Spanning Wartime to Boomtime.

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