“Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.” - Desmond Tutu
Do me a favour, and read this till the end.
Do me a favour, and take a few minutes to think about what you’re reading.
Do me a favour, and spend a little time today to observe how many people are doing you favours.
Defn: an act of kindness beyond what is due or usual.
When we think of favours, we rarely think about (a) how frequently we are at the receiving end of them and (b) whether they are necessarily reciprocal in nature.
Some favour become so ingrained in our lives, that at some point, we stop seeing them as favours, and accept them as parts of our routine.
That steaming hot mug of green tea that the office peon leaves at your desk every morning, that’s a favour.
When your driver changes the radio station to play your favourite song, that’s a favour.
When you’re having a long day at work, and your colleague knows to leave you a piece of chocolate, that’s a favour.
When you need to wake up early for work, and your mom wakes you up with a smile and a hot breakfast, that’s a favour.
How many of these favours have we ever thought about repaying? How many of them do we reciprocate in kind, and how many do we simply take for granted, often getting used to them, until they go from being a favour to be an expectation?
When they become expectations, does this mean we no longer need to think about reciprocity?
What I have learnt about favours and good turns is that they are not directly linear. You may not be doing a favour to your driver; you may be doing it for your best friend. Maybe your best friend is doing another favour somewhere, volunteering her time at an old age home. It’s impossible to trace, and even more impossible to account for. How do you know when some favour you did at some point in your life is coming back into your life in the form of another act of kindness? How can you predict who to bestow a favour on in the hope that someday, in some form, you will receive the same?
That’s the thing about favours, it’s hard to call them out. When you do one with the intention of direct and immediate reciprocity, there is little to separate a favour from a debt.
Defn: a sum that is owed or due
Can a favour be a debt? Can kindness be a debt? Perhaps in a sentimental and emotional sense, when someone at the received end of an act of kindness feels compelled to pay it forward in someway, either consciously or unconsciously. Science and research has indicated that kindness is contagious. When we see someone else help another person it gives us a good feeling, which in turn causes us to go out and do something altruistic ourselves.
We do not feel obligated to return a favour, we feel inclined to pay it forward. A lot of this is purely selfish. HuffPost reported that being kind has the following side effects:
- Kindness makes us happier
- Kindness gives us healthier hearts (seriously, there’s biology behind this)
- Kindness slows aging
- Kindness makes for better relationships
Kindness is not purely altruistic. Do others favours. Appreciate the favours others do for you. Do yourself a favour, and be kind.