The Selfless Good Deed Challenge

Someone asked me the other day to describe my husband and the simplest explanation I immediately thought of was, “Well, Bobby is the only person I know who says ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ to Siri.” Seriously. He does.

What’s most impressive is that there is seemingly no benefit that comes from being polite to an inanimate object. But think about it, think about the small moments of joy we get when we do something silly or fun when no one else is around to witness or share that moment. There is something selfishly intimate about enjoying one’s own silliness. As I’ve written before, this gets back to the importance of learning to like and fuel yourself from the inside out.

This conversation reminded me of a Friends episode where Joey challenged Phoebe to do one selfless good deed. He argued that when you do a good deed you feel good about that deed in return—and therefore it can’t be selfless. Be prepared to laugh out loud at this epic Friends clip:

So much of what we do involves other people and broadcasting what we’re doing to other people through Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and so on. I’m a social person and enjoy the company of others, but I enjoy—perhaps even more so—the quiet time I find for myself when I’m not engaging with people (or Siri). We spend an inordinate amount of time seeking ways to share what we’re doing with others when we have so many small moments of joy throughout the day if we are just a bit more mindful of them.

For example, I love cleaning the kitchen. I find a calm meditative pleasure in making my bed. These rote activities allow me to slow down and ponder what’s ahead and what has passed.

So as Joey challenged Phoebe I’m wondering what I can do that’s a selfless good deed? I’ve written in the past about my love for Random Acts of Kindness, but again, I discuss how these also make me feel good (selfish). In fact, it’s hard to think about this challenge and not feel positive or be inspired.

While Bobby might have achieved what he thought was a selfless act by offering southern hospitality to his digital assistant, I’m guessing the fact that he’s inspired this Musing from said act has made him feel good—actually probably not. (He’s one of the few people I know who really doesn’t care about receiving acknowledgement for things.)

So here’s the challenge: Have you solved Joey’s riddle of the one true selfless good deed? If so, please share.

Thank you Bobby. You’re my favorite. Love Siri.

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9 Comments on "The Selfless Good Deed Challenge"

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Ha ha! I remember this episode. The poor bumblebee. Truthfully, I struggle with this. I love encouraging people. I love helping others. I also love getting encouragement BACK though, so are my motives selfless? Possibly not. I wonder if being a donor (like blood/tissue/organ) could be considered selfless. It really scared me to give blood (annoyingly, my BP is so low they can never get enough out of me quick enough and I end up ill each time so I’m not allowed anymore) but I knew it would help someone to do so I just needed to get over my… Read more »
I do think it’s possible to do a selfless good deed and not feel good about it because it really is all about choice, expectations, and depends on attitude. You can choose to begrudgingly do something for someone else and despise every moment of it. Or, if your good deed does not get the response & praise you were looking for then, yeah, you can choose to get pissy and regret your deed because your expectations were not met. There are some people that live their lives that way. But if you are doing a good deed for the sake… Read more »
Alison Smart, RN

As a nurse, I sometimes find myself cleaning up an anesthetized patient so they remain unaware that they soiled themselves during surgery. Some may just consider that my job, but I feel that making sure that my patients are comfortable – physically and mentally – is a little extra I can do without anyone knowing. Maybe that is not what you were looking for, but it is what came to mind – taking care of something icky for someone who will never know that you even needed to do it.


Taking the time to maintain a patient’s dignity is so kind! Nurses like you make such a difference!


That is so kind. I know someone who had soiled themselves during surgery and the nurses didn’t do this – they woke up so embarrassed and humilated. I wish there were more selfless and thoughtful nurses like you Alison.

A Renee
Perhaps there is no such thing as a truly selfless act. I’d considered that the act of sacrificing oneself for another might be selfless, but that would depend on your belief system. If, as many believe, there is an afterlife, would we not be rewarded for this act, thus negating any chance that it was selfless? Even if we do not hold this belief, in committing such an act, would we not derive some form of pleasure or anticipated honor from having performed it? Even if there is no such thing as a selfless act or selfless good deed, I… Read more »