The Good Person test: Do a good deed, but don't tell anyone.

If you do a good deed, and nobody knows, did it really happen? Spoiler: Yes.

I recently had a revelation.

Mia Freedman, in her classic, ever-honest way, told me a secret. In a meeting, she was sitting next to our pregnant Editor-In-Chief Jamila Rizvi, and offered her a glass of water. But Mia didn’t actually care if Jamila was hydrated, she just wanted everyone else in the room to witness her kindness by checking if the pregnant lady needed a glass of water.

Brilliant. Classic. Shook my head and said ‘Oh, Mia!’.

And then I realised I do the same thing.

Note for Editor-In-Chief Jamila: I’m sure Mia does really care whether or not you’re hydrated. Honest. 

I buy The Big Issue for many reasons, but mainly because I want people to know that I buy The Big Issue. On more than one occasion, I have picked up a date in my car (pre-arranged, not just a random off the street to whom I pulled up and said “wanna date? Hop in!”) and intentionally left my latest copy of the The Big Issue on the front seat so he would immediately be impressed by my altruistic nature.

Disgusting. But I am so not alone.

Real generosity: Australia’s oldest man knits jumpers for penguins.

Facebook is full of good-deed-gloating. Statuses in which people attempt to be subtle, but really are screaming “QUICK EVERYONE, LOOK HOW GENEROUS I WAS TODAY!”. Here’s an example.

FYI: I did not actually post this. Promise.

So. Much. Bullshit.

Good on you for giving him money and having a chat to a fellow human. But why are you telling Facebook about it? Not for Tony, he probably didn’t spend your $50 on topping up the 4G on his iPhone so he could read your status. You did it for you.

Have you ever made a status like that? Because let me promise you this: For every ‘like’ you got, at least three people wanted to kick you in the shins a little bit.


It’s fine to search for gratitude. Oprah does it all the time. It’s fair to be patted on the back for doing a good deed, as long as the deed gets done. But let’s all try something that feels even better. Here it is:

Do a good deed, and don’t tell anyone about it. 

Not a soul.

Not even Facebook.

Chat to a homeless man and keep that memory entirely to yourself. Check the hydration levels of your pregnant colleague without any witnesses but her. Buy the The Big Issue and make friends with the vendor without bragging about it to your dates.

Do something good for humanity, and don’t ask for any rewards or likes or retweets.

It will feel amazing.

You may not get any comments on Facebook telling you what a good human you are, but you will feel great inside. You can carry with you the secret of your do-gooding, knowing that you did it unselfishly without seeking rewards.

Some people probably do this every day. All you quiet good-doers, good on you. We should all strive to be like you.

The rest of us, the Mias and the Lucys and the passive-bragging-status-makers (as in, MOST PEOPLE), let’s go about our secret mission of quiet do-gooding from here on in, with only the occasional begging for pats on the head.

We’ll secretly make the world a better place.

Go forth. Quiet, now.

Do you secretly enjoy the bragging rights to doing the right thing?