Sometimes the simplest things can improve your own life and the lives of those around you. In this special Tough Things First podcast, Ray Zinn is joined by his wife Delonna and guest host Rob Artigo to discuss a major key to living a long and happy life — the concept of doing a good turn daily.
Rob Artigo: Welcome back to another edition of the Tough Thing’s First podcast. I’m your guest host Rob Artigo. I’m a writer and entrepreneur in California. Hi Ray.
Ray Zinn: Hello Rob, still good to be with you again today.
Rob Artigo: Great to be back, and of course we have a special guest with us today. DeLona Zinn, Ray’s wife of 56 years. Hi DeLona.
DeLona Zinn: Hi Rob.
Rob Artigo: I’m excited to find out why Ray wanted you on this podcast with us. I can imagine that you share a lot of these same feelings about the topic, so that makes sense. It’s gonna be great to hear your input.
Ray Zinn: Well when you talk about doing a good turn daily, I can’t think of anybody better qualified to speak about that than DeLona. As I’ve said many times before, that if it weren’t for DeLona, I wouldn’t have any friends, and so she’s that kind of person that everybody just likes to be around her, because she’s constantly thinking of others and not so much for herself. Anyway, that’s why she’s on this podcast, and I’m gonna be delighted to get her comments on this subject.
Rob Artigo: Ray as you mentioned, the words, “To do a good turn daily,” that’s a scout motto, and around the new year, you wrote in one of your great musings that you couldn’t think of a more befitting way to start a new year that to commit to doing a good turn for others each day of our lives.
Rob Artigo: Let’s talk about that a little bit. Let’s start with where that motto comes from.
Ray Zinn: Baden-Powell, who started the scouting program back in the early 1900’s. We talk about what all the values of scouting are, the scout oath, the scout motto, and the various scout laws that define what a scout should be. This goes back over a hundred years ago. The principles are true today, even though they were initiated over a hundred years ago, the concepts of becoming a scout and being a scout are the same and apply today also.
It’s just what … That’s why we have DeLona here, because there’s been some studies done that indicate why doing a good turn is so important. So DeLona, you were reading to me last night an article that talked about that, so why don’t you kind of summarize what we learned in that article.
DeLona Zinn: Okay, thanks Ray. There was a study that has been done by a group of people, and it’s called the flourishing families project. There’s a Laura Padilla-Walker who’s involved in this. She took the study from a different angle. Most of the things that the study was trying to figure out, what causes families to struggle and what could go wrong in families. The flourishing families program, as the name implies, has focused on what goes right and strengthens families. What she found was that those who lend a hand to people they don’t even know reap a personal benefit and it increases their self worth.
I thought it was interesting. They did the study on 681 youths between the age of 11 and 14, and it started back in 2008. Most of the studies that are done on teens and family life are focused on what goes wrong and what strengthens families. This study actually went a little bit further in trying to understand how helping others helped the teenagers, because there’s been a lot of studies about teens in the past, and they found that when they help others, they’re more likely to avoid risky behaviors like substance abuse, and they’re more apt to stay out of trouble, and their family relations are stronger.
This one showed that this actually, when they do help, they boost their self esteem and their self worth.
Ray Zinn: Now these others are strangers, these are not family or friends. These are actually strangers.
DeLona Zinn: Right. They found that caring for strangers helps adolescence care about themselves and see themselves capable. Of course that boosts their confidence and how they view themselves. That kind of thing really lasts for years in a young person. There is also a program in Salt Lake City that is called Youthlinc. They encourage teenagers to volunteer to help in the community and also internationally.
They have found that these youth that do this, it helps them as they move forward in their future. They seem more outside themselves. They look for ways they can help in their communities, and they ultimately as adults they become better people.
Ray Zinn: This begs the question as to whether or not it’s a chicken and the egg thing. Is it because people are better people just quality wise, that they tend to be more willing to help others as apposed to people who are more selfish and less willing to help others, tend to be those who do bad things like substance abuse and have interpersonal raising problems with other problems with other people.
It’s an interesting point. So can doing a good turn daily, can it be learned? Or is it just kind of intuitive individually that everybody or anybody who is a good person just basically, as you say, or naturally a good person, would do these things. Not sure. This is an interesting point as to how much of this can be learned as apposed to how much is inherent in a person’s personality.
Rob Artigo: Let’s ask DeLona. Is it in your life experience, have you seen both? Have you see the benefits that generally a good person gets out of doing what comes naturally, which tends to be being kinder to people, doing that good turn daily sort of becomes a habit, which I suspect if you’re an Eagle scout or something, you’ve got that habit built in from a young age.
But if you’re another kind of person who has struggled, maybe has been more self centered and selfish, and lived a life of me, me, me, starting to institute the idea of doing a good turn daily, say it’s your new years resolution, and you say, “In 2018 I’m gonna do a good turn daily,” and you begin to build that in, doesn’t that make you a better person a little bit?
DeLona Zinn: Absolutely. It certainly does. I have seen that in a lot of people that I know where they have turned outward rather than inward, and they’re much happier. I know that you can do simple little things. You don’t have to do a lot of hands on type things. There are things such as even giving a person a smile or saying a kind word to someone that you’re in line with like at the grocery store.
I remember an incident that happened to me this Christmas when I was in line and the line was really long to check out in the grocery store, and everybody was kind of, you know, grumbling and the clerk, he was just working his little rear off. I looked at him and I smiled at him, and I just smile anyway, but I smiled at him, and I thought, “Wow. I really feel sorry for him because he’s got this busy line going. Everybody in that, well all the clerks did in the store.
So when I got up to him, and when he was checking my groceries, he said, he thanked me, and said it was so nice to see me smile, because he has so many people that give him dirty looks. It just made him feel better, and it made me feel better, to think that I had made somebody feel good during that stressful time.
There are little acts that we can do, and I’ve seen this with a lot of people. There are a lot of positive people, and I think the more positive you are about life and things, the more you’re willing to serve and help others.
Ray Zinn: A friend of mine told me a story that he was in Target a little while back and he was buying a birthday gift for his granddaughter, and as he got up to the cash register, the man behind him told that cashier, he said, “This is on me.” He says, “I’m gonna buy that for him.” John, my friend, his name is John, he turned around, he looked, he was kind of quizzical at first as to why he would do that.
The guy smiled and said, “I just wanted to do it for someone, and I decided to do it for you.” So he bought this very expensive, we’re talking something almost $100 that he paid for this friend of mine granddaughter.
My friend then resolved, as he walked out, he says, “I’m gonna do something good for somebody else,” and so he was trying to find somebody that he could do something good for.
In our church group, they had a recent group meeting where they put together these sandwich bags full of granola bars and other energy building products, and even added a couple of dental hygiene things like some toothpaste and some toothbrushes. They put them in their cars, and they had a bunch of them made up, and as they would go and they’d see a homeless person who had a sign up, or maybe just they looked homeless, and they would go up and hand them this little sandwich bag full of this stuff rather than handing them money.
That has been really good, not just for the people receiving it, but for the people that were giving it were just … it made them feel better, because often times you’re reluctant to give money, but maybe you’ll give like a little bag of goodies to someone.
We were up at our ranch in Montana at a grocery store, and this woman who we somewhat know looked like she was struggling, and we had given her a Christmas tree off of our property. She said, “Well, I don’t have a Christmas tree stand to put it in.” I told my wife to give her some money to go buy a Christmas tree stand. It just made me feel good to be able to do that.
The more we go outside of ourselves and not so focused on me, me, me, we just become a happier and kinder and gentler person. I really admire Baden-Powell for having this motto for the scouts of doing a good turn daily, because a motto is something that’s a hallmark for us. We all can do it, it doesn’t have to be inherent in our personality to be good or to be loving and kind to others. We can develop that personality. It may be different for us, because …
I was talking to someone just actually just a couple weeks ago, and they said … I knew I was going to do this podcast, and they said, “Well I really have a difficult time going up to strangers, or doing things for strangers.” And I said, “Then go do it,” because that’s like in my book, Doing the Tough Things First. You’re doing things you don’t like doing, and that’s good, because overcoming that tendency not to want to do something that you should do is really doing the tough things first.
Rob Artigo: You and DeLona brought up a really great point, several great points obviously, but when I think of doing a good turn daily, which is the subject of this podcast, doesn’t have to be something big. It could be opening the door for somebody. It could be picking up a bag or holding something for somebody so that they have something more convenient.
I remember being at church and holding the door open for somebody who was pushing somebody else in in a wheelchair, I’m like holding … That seems natural, but some people don’t think of that sort of thing. There are bigger, there are some of the big things that we do, and the way we institute this sort of concept into our daily lives.
We’re business people. DeLona knows from watching your business experiences throughout the years that there are people in business who get this, to do a good turn daily, they do it on a regular basis. It’s part of their business lives, and I know it has been for you Ray.
But there are people who don’t. What are the benefits, we can pass this off to you and DeLona, get her take as well. What are the benefits you think of having that mindset. Not just in the little things we do daily, but in our business lives.
Ray Zinn: You’ll be honest and ethical, and you’ll be more respectful of others. More respectful. Again, it’s just, as the studies showed, the teenagers that did things for strangers, went out of their way to help strangers and do community service avoided the substance abuse, avoided getting into trouble, you know crime type activities. Then actually did better in school, they were better students.
It just goes along with being a better person. I thought, for 2019, the resolution would be, do a good turn daily.
Rob Artigo: And DeLona, you have some closing thoughts on doing a good turn daily?
DeLona Zinn: Yeah. Again, like you said, it’s not big things that you have to do, monumental things. Everybody thinks if you have to do a good turn daily, it means you have to physically do something that’s monumental. Again, it’s the little things that count.
Ray Zinn: Just saying, “Hi,” you know?
Rob Artigo: Yeah.
Ray Zinn: Just saying, “How are you,” and when you come to the store clerk or you come to your hairdresser, your barber, whatever, you just speak kindly to them, or to others that you greet.
DeLona Zinn: Or you say thank you.
Ray Zinn: Yes, say thank you, exactly, say thank you.
DeLona Zinn: Yeah you know, I appreciate what you do.
Ray Zinn: Praise them. Praise them.
DeLona Zinn: It makes people feel better. People perform better when you do stuff like that.
Rob Artigo: I think the grocery store analogy that you brought up, or the stories that you brought up are definitely the kinds of things that we can all relate to, because we’ve all been in line in those circumstances. We’ve both had stories that directly related to standing in line at the store.
Rob Artigo: We all know how that is, and how about this, for my closing thought on doing the right thing, or doing a good turn daily, when you’re in that grocery line. Maybe your smile isn’t registered by the clerk all that much, but the fact that you’re patient and not complaining. Just being patient, and not rushing and complaining that the person in front of us is trying to pay with five different cards and needs cash, and can’t figure out how to do the input, yeah.
Ray Zinn: We had that happen.
Rob Artigo: It happens. It does happen.
DeLona Zinn: It does.
Rob Artigo: I think about, it happens to me and my wife. We’re sitting and we’ll look at each other and kind of go, “Yup, it’s happening again, how come we always wind up behind the person who has trouble getting through there.” But we look at the clerk and we go, they’ll maybe sometimes they’ll apologize, and we’ll just say, “Don’t worry about it, we’re not in a hurry, it’s okay.” Even if we are in a hurry, we’ll say it.
DeLona Zinn: Exactly.
Ray Zinn: Well I’ve had people, we had maybe two items that were in our hands, and the person in front of us had maybe 15 or 20, and I’ve had them say, “Oh, please go ahead. You only have a couple items and I’ve got like 15 or 20.” I thought that was really nice of them.
Rob Artigo: You ever notice, have you ever had anybody reach across the conveyor belt that pushes the groceries down, they reach across that conveyor belt, and then pick up the little spacer, or the little separater, and then move it over across so that you can put some of your things down. They’re just not making you reach over there and grab it, but they’re doing you a favor by moving it. It just shows that they are cognizant, they are aware of that you’re there, and that they’re thinking about convenience for you as well.
Rob Artigo: I just find that to be a very nice, very, very small thing, but it just shows that somebody else in this line recognizes that you’re there and that you’re a human being.
Ray Zinn: Let’s say doing a good turn daily is a good resolution to make for 2018. How about that. One of you …
DeLona Zinn: I agree, totally completely.
Ray Zinn: Do a good turn daily.
Rob Artigo: Well we have DeLona Zinn, Ray’s wife of 56 years here. A great pleasure to have you on DeLona, so thank you for joining me and Ray.
DeLona Zinn: Well thank you so much for letting me join you.
Rob Artigo: Find out more at toughthingsfirst.com, toughthingsfirst on Facebook, and the book Tough Things First. You’ll find out all about how you can do those little things, and even those big things first, whether you find it to be something that you really want to do, or those things that you don’t wanna do. Tough Things First the book will help guide you in those directions.
Thank you Ray and DeLona.
DeLona Zinn: Thank you.
Ray Zinn: Thank you. Thanks DeLona for joining us today.