Do Brownie Points Matter?

I had heard about brownies in school and all that I knew then was then was that brownies referred to small cakes or pastries. And, who doesn’t love cakes? Of course, I also knew about brownies as elf like or goblin like creatures that lived in the nooks and corners of homes working into the night oblivious to all human eyes. Courtesy: all the fairy tales that I devoured. But, imagine my surprise when I discovered that not only could you eat brownies or fear them in the night, you could also earn brownie points! Over the years, we all have earned brownie points for a host of things, some deserved, some undeserved. Have you ever wondered about them? How much of them were for public favour and how much for the satisfaction of your soul?

Gaining Brownie Points or Losing Them

There was a time when I lived in an idealistic world practicing little acts of kindness. I would seek out opportunities to help someone in distress, sort out squabbles to the best of my ability. In short, try to live my life to the standards of saints and creative people who practiced what they preached. It was easy then. I was studying. I had no responsibilities except for my academics. The very fact that others benefited from my actions gave me immense pleasure and maybe, the brownie points that I was earlier talking about. It had to be that because then I did not believe much in good karma. All that I wanted was to feel happy within and score brownie points for my soul. Was I wrong?

I don’t do it as often as I used to now. I have responsibilities and let’s get it straight, “I am no saint.” Ironical as it may sound, the very ideals that inspired me to strive for those brownie points were no source of inspiration now. While I helped people earlier going out of my way, today, most of my brownie points were restricted to my home, its family members and my profession. A random brush of aid here and there. It was okay for me if I earned some brownie points here and there to stay content. Sometimes, even that was not required. I let time do what it thought right. Still, we can see a lot of people around us who are constantly collecting brownie points be it to impress a girlfriend, please a boss or create an impression with the friends one hangs out with. It may seem flimsy to even give it a thought but think of the times when you have longed for appreciation or even acknowledgement for something good that you have done. Earning imaginary credit for yourself seems the best way to survive with dignity. What do you say?  It seems a self defense mechanism, very apt in today’s indifferent world where you are treated either like a doormat or left to carry on your life for yourself.

We are a creation filled with extremes. Either we clamp up and keep to our world or else resort to creating an impression for ourselves through the process of earning brownie points. “What’s harmful in earning brownie points or even losing them if they are not real,” you might ask.

Valid question. As long as they don’t affect anyone, these little rewarding points seem good enough to boost our confidence, our ego perhaps or bring it down when our attempts fire back.

So, does it really matter? Earning brownie points that is?


(By the way, the origin of brownies seems to trace back to the Girl Guides in USA who were trained to be ‘helpful Brownies.’ Of course, the imps, elves and goblins folklore was believed to be an origin too.)


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17 thoughts on “Do Brownie Points Matter?

  1. Thanks Shail… food for thought…well to me brownie points are as good as brownies…neither deprivation nor excess is good…its good to be kind and earn a few brownie points…but going out of one’s way to earn those might not be possible nor the best action to take. Good deeds get rewarded even if they are restricted to our own people. Even if we don’t earn brownie points, we need to ensure that we don’t trouble or hurt others. I guess I’m being pragmatic…but moderation is the best way ahead for me.

  2. Hi Prerna. You just don’t know how good it feels to see you here every now and then!

    Well, yes, excess or limitation both are bad. And I agree when you say that as long as we don’t hurt others it is ok.

    The very fact that this article proved to be something to reflect about makes it worth it!

  3. A brownie point to you for this post:)Its all about inner satisfaction in helping out someone or indulging in acts of kindness.

  4. You asked:

    Do Brownie Points even matter in life?
    When I was a people pleaser I’d go out of my way to help people, may be then I thought it was my responsibility to finish what I started. Can one call those as brownie points? I guess so. The point to be noted is even then I treated strangers with kindness and compassion if they were on the right side of the law.

    What are they?
    May be people pleasing points 🙂

    Do you aspire for them?

    Now when I am cured of people pleasing my attention is focused on living in grace with kindness and compassion. Being kind to resolve karmas with people I meet in this life time is the biggest brownie point for me. In a way this philosophy has freed me from me, mine and my folks. May be being homeless and broken into pieces was a blessing to free me from many attachments. May be not being a householder has done it. If it is a karmic brownie then I definitely aspire for it 🙂 .

    Peace,

    Desi Girl

  5. Dear Sonal,

    Thanks for the brownie point! From friends, brownie points are indeed great sources of encouragement and acknowledgment.

    Yes, inner satisfaction is what counts. Whatever way you may do it!

  6. Dear V,

    That was quite a detailed and reflective view of brownie points!
    Yes, each person views these brownie points differently. Some use their little joys to acknowledge them or aspire for more. Some make use of their sorrow to either do away with them altogether or maybe, chart a new course for the brownie route.

    Either way, it should be an inner choice, a healing path for oneself.

    To you too.

  7. Again another good one from you Shail. Thanks for such thought provoking articles.

    I feel we must keep doing ‘random acts of kindness’ in our life. It provides a great relief to several people who suffer during emergencies. A simple ‘thank you’ or ‘smile’ from the person who receipient will inspire us to do similar acts at frequent intervals.

  8. Hi Hari. Yes, that I agree. Random acts of kindness is something the world desperately needs. God only knows so many people are out there in need of sympathy or a kind word. But, the initiative and the intention is what finally counts.

  9. Earning brownie points is one thing and succumbing to peer pressure and wanting to earn it is another. Like you said, you have your own responsibilities and commitments now which in a way disallow you from being the idealist we all were at one point. Although my perspective about this is that one needn’t go OTT (Over the top) with this… Little deeds done can go a long way… Who cares about the brownie points until it is not life-dependent!
    Thanks for the explanation about the terminology and its source.
    Sneha

  10. Hi Sneha,

    Yes, I agree. We needn’t ‘go over the top’ so much so that we falter in our other necessary responsibilities but good deeds that earn us brownie points in the process are always welcome. Of course, as I mentioned, we needn’t be conscious of the fact that we are doing something good to earn brownie points. Brownie points or not, we must strive to not hurt anyone.

    What do you say Sneha?

  11. You just made me call my hubby and get him to come home with a couple of delicious brownies for the evening. I can’t stop craving – to eat and not earn 🙂

    Gifting a few brownie points to those who deserve, does a lot of good to their confidence and motivation. It goes a long way for the receiver and giving a brownie point is also not an easy task. My dear friend ego sometimes comes in its way don’t you think? I surely don’t do things, just for the sake of earning them. Deeds from heart always attract brownie points. I personally have not done anything with earning brownie points in my mind, unless of course one is trying to impress their boss at work!!! C’mon haven’t we all done some little bit atleast with the intention of getting in someobody’s good books?? There is no harm. But like some of the friends who have commented here, lets not make that a habit. Lets be impulsive and help others to make us feel good about ourselves from within. Also too much sugar is also not healthy. So no point keeping it all with us. We need to share them around. I don’t want to suffer on my own. I need company…hehe

  12. knot2share :
    You just made me call my hubby and get him to come home with a couple of delicious brownies for the evening. I can’t stop craving – to eat and not earn
    Gifting a few brownie points to those who deserve, does a lot of good to their confidence and motivation. It goes a long way for the receiver and giving a brownie point is also not an easy task. My dear friend ego sometimes comes in its way don’t you think? I surely don’t do things, just for the sake of earning them. Deeds from heart always attract brownie points. I personally have not done anything with earning brownie points in my mind, unless of course one is trying to impress their boss at work!!! C’mon haven’t we all done some little bit atleast with the intention of getting in someobody’s good books?? There is no harm. But like some of the friends who have commented here, lets not make that a habit. Lets be impulsive and help others to make us feel good about ourselves from within. Also too much sugar is also not healthy. So no point keeping it all with us. We need to share them around. I don’t want to suffer on my own. I need company…hehe

    Hi Shree,

    I agree entirely. We are human after all. So, earning brownie points a little here and a little there becomes quite natural no?
    But yes, it is always better if we do good without thinking of earning any brownie points in return.

    Nice of you to add your perspective Shree.And thank me for getting you to get that brownie!:)

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