Sunday, April 8, 2012
Making a Diaper Run
Sometimes people ask me how far in advance I plan my acts of kindness. The answer is that most of the time when I wake up in the morning, I don't yet know what I'll do. Sometimes an idea comes to me during the day, and sometimes I simply respond to a situation I see. Today I decided that it might be nice to buy diapers that I could donate to a non-profit social service agency I know that helps teen mothers, among many others. I'm honestly not sure why that idea popped into my head this morning, but it did -- so I went with it.
On my way home from enjoying some golf (yes, that's a recurring theme) on this sunny but windy day, I swung by a local Walmart store figuring they'd likely have some good deals on larger quantities of diapers. It does feel a little weird for me to buy diapers, partly because it's been so many years since our kids were of that age, and partly because I think my wife usually bought them way back then. I didn't even know how sizing works, much less anything else. In any event, I bought 3 large boxes, one each for size 3, 4, and 5. Even at a Walmart, they weren't cheap and it amazes me to think how difficult it must be for many young families, let alone teen mothers, to afford this virtual necessity. Tomorrow afternoon I'll drop the diapers off at the agency so they can quickly get into the appropriate hands.
Last night, I had the pleasure of being interviewed for a national audience on Fox News Channel (still trying to get the link for that video). One of the questions the host asked me was whether it made me feel good to do these acts of kindness. Of course the answer was "yes", but it got me thinking more deeply about this phenomenon. I would suppose that it's universally true across virtually all of humankind that we feel good when we do a kindness for others. In fact, some research suggests that it's one of the key components in creating our own happiness.
I wonder if there's a biological purpose to this. Much like sex feels good probably in order to promote procreation, might it be the case that doing kind things for others feels good to promote a more cohesive or cooperative society? There's no question that when people are kind to each other things tend to run more smoothly and successfully than when people are mean, angry, or vindictive. Maybe we're really biologically programmed to be kind and the good feelings we get when we do so are a form of biological feedback that tells us we're on the right path. An interesting thought to contemplate. I welcome your thoughts and comments.