Is ‘goodness of the heart’ a ‘thing?

©Daniel Sinnathamby

I read a post by Todd Brison titled ‘How to Be Enough’ on Medium. A sentence in his post was interesting and highlighted by another reader, Laura Annabelle. The sentence read ‘The second I forget being alive is generally a good thing is the second I am unable to impact the world in any way.’ While the overall post was self-reflective, this sentence niggled.

How do you impact the world in any way?

When I was struggling with overcoming clinical depression I engaged in a difficult but objective examination of my life. I wrote about this experience on Medium in a post titled ‘Index Day’. I titled the section ‘I Dismantle my Life’. In this examination, I tried as best able to dispassionately look at the different aspects of my life. The conclusions I arrived at were on the two types of interactions I had. With myself and others. I asked ‘key questions’ which helped define these interactions.

Translating the answers to these interactions in real-life was extremely difficult but helped me overcome anxiety, despondency and hopelessness, to some extent. They also helped reduce my dependence on medication and overall made it easier for others to interact with me in ways that had positive outcomes. In the process, I’d like to convince myself I became a better person.

The questions I asked myself were on making my life less complex and what I really needed? What values and principles I hold myself to and give and share unconditionally? How I prioritize my time, if I was productive, do I add value? How I show gratitude for everything I possess and experience? Do these require sacrifice?

On my interactions with others I looked at possible categories.

These were my family, my work place, my relationships and the world at large. With my family, the important areas were on making every moment with them special and memorable, with positive energy and what I need to change, build on or drop.

At the workplace, it was about leading by example, building trust, demonstrating integrity and commitment, and making others feel valued and respected. With relationships, it was more difficult. Actions included nurturing and maintaining ongoing relationships, re-building relationships I had ‘left to rust’. Using social media to give and share, not expecting judgement or measurement of success by the number of ‘likes’ or ‘clicks’.

Lastly it was respect of others and strangers, their perspectives and seeing the world through their ‘eyes’ and circumstances. It was about using day-to-day interactions to add mutual value and seek positive outcomes. Appreciating and enjoying each moment in a world characterized by all its perfections and imperfections.

The ‘sounding board’ inquiries were how do these intentions translate into practical action? Are these actions truthful and sincere? and, do I care how I am perceived?

Over time practicing these intentions and changing behavior has been extremely difficult and a challenge, and a difficult slog. However, over time I cease to worry if I know I did my best, given everything a fair shot and the outcomes are not within my control. I learned to listen more and respect other views, to see the world through their circumstances. I do not need to convince others or proselytize if consequences and their implications are clear. With co-workers and work colleagues negotiating expectations and agreement, and getting out of the way. Following up on and revisiting relationships I left to molder for various reasons, some self-righteous, with the intention on making amends and reviving them.

It has been a journey of discovery, self-awareness and lessons in humility. An awareness of the inestimable value of other human beings, no matter who they are or how different from you they may be. It has meant patience in listening to total strangers, previously something I would consider a waste of time. The rewards simple but fulfilling. The clasp of a hand, a touch on the shoulder, a lightening of the moment and lessening of a burden.

Do these things ‘impact the world in any way’? I’d like to believe they do. Do these reflect a ‘goodness of the heart’? Is it a ‘thing’?

I’d like to think so.

I’d like to thank and appreciate those who share their thoughts, experiences and vulnerabilities through social media and its various platforms which serve to teach, inspire and reflect. They do this because of a compulsion to ‘impact the world’, not expecting reward or recognition.

I also acknowledge those who share with the expectation of self-recognition and a measure of success through the size of their following. The metrics are the number of clicks or likes and the number of e-mail addresses amassed. I’m not in any way judgmental in saying this is not right. These posts help re-calibrate and self-correct because this is not who I want to be.

The quote of ‘never compromising your character which defines you’ against acquiring a ‘reputation which is merely what others think of you’ takes on a special relevance.

So, I’d like to appreciate Todd Brison and similar others for sharing their sincere and thoughtful insights through posts. They nudge you back towards your true north when you drift.

I’d also like to acknowledge a post by Jessica Jungton in ‘The Writing Cooperative’ I read today on getting back to commitments let slide.

This post is a result.