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Deborah C Dooley Headshot

Giving and Glowing

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I adore listening to the Archers - primarily because it's entertaining and the episodes are very short. I am especially fond of the one liners that trip so easily from the tongues of the characters. And one of the best of these was uttered recently by Darrell, (who is now Down On His Luck) when (the admittedly rather irritating) Shula extended a helping hand and attempted to haul him up from the gutter - into her own more than comfortable abode.

'You're just trying to make yourself feel good by helping me,' spat the luckless Darrell. 'Well I don't need that kind of help. So stay away from me!'

Now you see this is where I become confused. Surely help is help - what on earth does it matter what kind it is - as long as it does the job? It seems to me that help that makes the helper as happy as the helpee could well be seen as a good thing. And at the very least, where's the harm?
There's plenty of research to show that giving makes us feel good. Like most research, you can usually find it in a back copy of the Daily Mail and the benefits include lowered blood pressure. But we don't need to read all about how giving gets you going. Most of us are familiar with that warm and slightly fluffy glow which envelops you after you've done an elderly neighbour's shopping/babysat for a single mum/rescued a kitten from a burning building. Personally I always try to slip into my superwoman outfit before doing a good deed, but to be honest, there isn't always time - especially if the zip's playing up. And although our village does have a red phone box, handily placed only a few yards from our house, it's now a book exchange and consequently full of books, which, while providing plenty of lovely reading, don't leave much space for a quick change.

Another possible dilemma that can surround being generous in any way, is whether or not to talk about it. Of course if you're still in your superhero outfit, people are going to put two and two together, guess that you've been on some kind of save the planet mission and quite probably give you a thumbs up/high five/grateful smile. But if you're in civvies, you have a clear choice . To be quietly noble or to tell all and sundry what a top chap you are and how many people/kittens you've helped that day.

It's pretty well universally acknowledged that constantly harping on about your own generosity is unattractive - but I don't see the harm in telling a few mates about your deed of the day.

Especially if it intensfies the glow - thereby, don't forget, further lowering your blood pressure. (The obvious danger here being that you may end up on the floor.)

In Darrell's case, the words 'gift horse' and 'mouth' spring to mind. Also 'complete prat.' The bloke was homeless, cold, hungry and at risk of personal bodily harm (later realised when he was beaten to a pulp by a fellow vagrant), but he refused an offer of shelter and food because he suspected Shula the good samaritan of having motives that were less than completely pure.

Personally I would have moved in, had a nice bath, eaten my fill and then asked the good lady if she'd like to improve her self perception even further - perhaps by giving me a great deal of dosh.
After all, who are we to deny others their feel good fixes?