The Low Price of Helping

Sean - Walnut Creek, California
Entered on February 23, 2009
Age Group: 18 - 30
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I was on my way to a friend’s house after getting in a nasty argument with my parents. Infuriated, I felt the littlest thing could make me snap. I was entering the freeway dreading my least favorite merge when I glanced in my rearview mirror. For assurance, I glanced over my left shoulder and saw the swaying motion of the driver’s hand in the car slightly behind me, allowing me to merge without problem. Suddenly my anger vanished, and a sense of calm took over my entire body. There was no need for the other driver to allow me to merge, but he had the decency to do so. It is the little gestures and deeds like allowing someone to merge with the wave of a hand that are important in life. I believe in the little acts of selflessness, the acts that take no effort for one person, but can significantly change the other person’s day or mood for the better.

Today, it is incredibly easy to help others, but people rarely take action. I can name numerous occasions where I have done something for someone that put absolutely no strain on me, yet may have helped brighten that person’s day. Likewise, I can count many times when someone took a second out of his or her life to do a small something for me, which helped cheer up my day. When it comes to the little things, I completely ignore thought of being repaid. Helping someone for the sake of being repaid in the future defeats the purpose of helping in the first place. When people ignore being repaid, the whole idea of “selflessness” comes to life, which is the very thing I find most important in helping people.

Recently, I tried acting selflessly when helping one of my friends with an issue of his. My friend Mike was devastated that he had lost his wallet. Trying to be a good friend, I assured him that he would definitely find it. But he had a load of laundry that needed washing. I told him that it would be my pleasure to lend him some money. Laundry only costs a dollar and seventy-five cents, but while occupied with his laundry, his mind was distracted from his wallet and focused on other things, causing him to relax and feel slightly better. Knowing how stressful losing a wallet is, I wanted to do anything, even if it was the small action of giving Mike some money, to lower his stress about the wallet. After he finished his laundry, Mike thanked me, and told me he already felt more optimistic about finding it. Helping take Mike’s mind off losing his wallet was definitely worth more than a dollar and seventy-five cents.

We do not have to bend over backwards to make someone’s day better. A Greek fable writer Aesop once summed up the idea of these small acts: “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” It is the little acts of selflessness like opening the door for a stranger or complimenting someone on a new haircut that matter. It would be ideal if people began doing these things without a moment’s hesitation, a second thought, or even a realization of doing it.