A good deed to feel good about

Self-esteem is built by doing esteemable acts.

Author unknown

I’m writing about this not to brag but to share something positive. I flew out of town on business today, and I had an aisle seat I as usually do. When I sat down, the woman in the middle seat to my right was talking to her elderly mother in the middle seat across the aisle. So that she and her mother could keep each other company more easily – and honestly also so that she wouldn’t have to talk over me (my motives were not entirely altruistic) — I suggested that perhaps whoever had the aisle seat next to her mother could take my aisle seat, and I could take her middle seat so she could sit next to her mother. The man who originally had the aisle seat next to her mother was just as happy to take my aisle seat, so it all worked out. As I got up to leave the plane, she said “I wrote you a little thank-you note” and handed it to me. It read:

Thank you, Kindest of Strangers! My mom and I haven’t ventured out and about in more than a year. She was motivated to travel today to my daughters wedding. Thank you for caring about her comfort on this trip. All the best to you on your trip.

Safe travels,

Darla

It was a little thing for me, but it made a big difference to these two women on their very special day. I was taught in the Cub Scouts to do one good deed every day, or “Do a good turn daily” (Scouts slogan). I’ve tried to live up to this if not for others, then for myself— not to boast but just to feel okay about who I am. I’ll never forget what someone once told a group I was in: “Self-esteem is built by doing esteemable acts.” (The English major in me knows that esteemable should probably be estimable, but esteemable goes with esteem, so there you have it.) A person like me who has struggled with self-esteem his whole life understands that doing good deeds is like forgiving: it helps the giver as much as — or more than — it helps the recipient.

Again, I’m not bragging. I’m writing about this because doing this one little thing made more of a difference than I could have imagined to the people I showed kindness to, and because that kindness was repaid so graciously, and those thanks felt so good. So, next time you have a chance to do a good deed, do it! It might just make your day as much as it makes someone else’s.

I am only one, but I am still one

“I am only one, but I am still one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something. And because I cannot do everything I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.” –Edward Everett Hale

I first heard this quotation attributed to Helen Keller, but this Wikiquote page on Edward Everett Hale clarified the origin. The person who shared the quotation was Len Robertson, an inspiring keynote speaker at the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf, Region IV conference in July 2018, encouraging attendees to involve themselves in leadership.

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Len Robertson presenting “LEADing from Within, LEADing for Tomorrow” in the ballroom of Hotel Albuquerque at the RID Region IV Conference in July 2018

Apparently, there was a strong connection between Edward Everett Hale and Helen Keller. On the same Wikiquote page there is this quotation:


keller,_sullivan_and_hale
“I have known him since I was eight, and my love for him has increased with my years.” —Helen Keller

“Dr. Edward Everett Hale is one of my very oldest friends. I have known him since I was eight, and my love for him has increased with my years. His wise, tender sympathy has been the support of Miss Sullivan and me in times of trial and sorrow, and his strong hand has helped us over many rough places; and what he has done for us he has done for thousands of those who have difficult tasks to accomplish. He has filled the old skins of dogma with the new wine of love, and shown men what it is to believe, live and be free. What he has taught we have seen beautifully expressed in his own life — love of country, kindness to the least of his brethren, and a sincere desire to live upward and onward. He has been a prophet and an inspirer of men, and a mighty doer of the Word, the friend of all his race — God bless him!” —Helen Keller, in The Story of My Life‎ (1904), p. 136

Quote

Don’t be clever or snarky. You want to show off your sharp wit? Keep it for when you’re writing letters to the Promotion and Tenure Review Committee. Unless you are being kind, do not be cute or ironic or use mockery when writing comments on a student’s paper. The ability to decide somebody’s grade is not the same thing as being able to bully that person. The easiest thing in the world is to make a student feel bad. You should get satisfaction from being that person’s teacher, not from being that person’s judge.

—Gina Barreca, 5 Ways to Make Grading Easier

Quote

“Nos ganamos la vida por lo que conseguimos, pero hacemos la vida por lo que damos.”

Mi traducción de la cita malatribuida a Winston Churchill:

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”

*Yo encontré otras traducciones similares pero sólo después de hacer mi propio trabajo con un nativo hispanohablante.