yes, I cut my hedge today. It was getting a little out of control and I psyched myself up and groaned a lot as I got the lead and the trimmer ready and ventured out, only because it was sunny and nice today. I cut my hedge with a bit of difficulty as it gets harder to raise the trimmer above my head.
Then I looked at my neighbours’ hedges and they needed cutting too. The young lady next door is always at work and her father occasionally comes from far to maintain the garden. That hedge too needed trimming. And I started on that one. You know what, normally I have had enough when I do my hedge alone, never mind others’. But today I just did the road side of the young woman’s hedge and then the one beyond needed doing too. Mr. G who has lived there for 65 years and lovingly tended the hedge is in a home now and the wife is frail waif of a thing who could not lift a cutter. So there I was, cutting the road side of her hedge too. But what I found was I was no longer tired. I finished the job and swept up the leaves.
And this is the honest truth, no put on. I felt good and relaxed and full of energy. Usually I cut my hedge and get so tired I am ready to put myself to bed for the rest of the day. But while cutting someone else’s hedge I felt I was doing something worthwhile and not just a chore that needed doing. There was no pressure for me to cut those hedges.
I am not saying this because I want you to think what a goody goody boy I am. I do not even care if the neighbours (with whom I am on ‘hello’ terms only), did not notice who did the job. I felt good in myself for having done that. It is very unfashionable these days to brag about your good deeds. It takes someone naive like me to do so. But there is a moral to this story, if you will only think about the deed rather than about me or what I did. Take it in its abstract form, make it stand alone and see how it looks. That’s all I ask.
All the research about lifestyles and happiness indicate that people who do unselfish acts of work for others are far happier than those who only strive to better themselves. This is the moral of the story. It should not be the sole motive for doing good. It should not have a selfish element at all. The researchers found such people lived happier and healthier lives and even longer lives.
Now you would have wondered what cutting the hedge has to do in a lifestyle blog. But then as I always say, you have to have a holistic approach to health and happiness and cutting the hedge of a neighbour is part and parcel of it. So go cut a hedge today!
Let me tell you I am not such a good Samaritan. I have an interest in keeping my neighbourhood clean and the hedges in a row cut neatly enhances the look of my own house too. Down the corner of my street, some Roumanian expats live. Outside their doors, rubbish, damp mattresses, the detritus of living overflows. These expats come here from rural communities and they do not know how to live in an urban environment where rubbish is collected for them. Anyhow, I found one day, a man sweeping that area with a brush and taking the rubbish away. I thought, what a good neighbour, and said to him he was doing a good job. He thanked me and said he did not live in the area. He was from another street. He said he was doing it so he could set an example to the people. He said, ‘if they see me doing it, perhaps they may take some pride in their living space’. He was not the sort of man to philosophize about it. He, I don’t think was doing it so he could be happy or healthy; he just did it. That’s what I mean by selflessness. He was a better man than I!