Good Deeds

Yesterday I phoned home to check messages and had a frantic voice mail. It was from a friend and old neighbour, who I haven’t heard from in months (just because of us both being busy with our lives). She was in a panic. Her babysitter canceled on her at the last minute and was there any way that I possibly babysit her twin 5 year olds that night? The message rambled on for a while. Apparently she felt like heel for not having called me in months and when she did phone, it was to ask me for something…but she was desperate.

I’ve known that feeling once or twice for sure.

Although I had a ton of things to do last night (it’s CBG weekend!!) I agreed to watch her children. After all, what’s the point of being someone’s friend if you can’t help them out of a jam now and again, right?

While the children were there playing (all 4 kids got along famously, btw), I phoned my mom for a few minutes. She likes to have me check in and chat frequently. She asked about all the noise in the background. When I told her that I was helping out my friend who needed emergency child care, my mom commented, “Well that’s nice…and maybe she’ll be able to help you out sometime in return.”

Really? Is that the best reason to help out a friend in need? For what they might be able to do for you in return?

Granted, that’s nice…but I really dislike that outlook. I try not to help out others with myself in mind….that outlook is ultimately selfish. I helped out my friend last night because I could empathize with that feeling of panic and being out of options in terms of child care…and if I could save someone from that misery, then I would do it.

I mean, hell…I’m not perfect. There have been times I’ve helped out a friend and said, “You owe me for this”. There’s a certain expectation when friendship is involved that there is a certain amount of give and take. And if I find myself in need of help with something (like child care!) I will definitely think of this particular friend. But that’s not ultimately why I chose to help her out.

Isn’t that what good deeds are all about? The person you’re doing the deed for?

I’d be interested in hearing what other people think about this. Do you only do good deeds expecting something in return for it? What’s your motivation for being a good person? Is “doing the right thing” enough motivation?

7 Responses

  1. I think, bottom line, I personally want to do good deeds for the sake of good deeds, but I also think it’s human to sometimes be motivated to do good in return for good. Not in a selfish way, if that makes any sense?

  2. I agree that it should be about doing something nice and not about what will I get back from it. But, I had a situation where someone yeleed at me for exactly this.
    I was going into the gym and I help the (2) doors for this women that I do not know. She never said thank you and that really pissed me off. I, being the smart ass that I am, said your welcome, and this lady came unglued. she got in my face saying that I was rude and why would i do something for someone expecting something. I should do it because I am just a nice person. Ugggg! I was so mad, but then I worried all day that she was right and I shouldn’t expect thanks. I should just do because that is who I am.

  3. Funny, I rarely ask for help because I don’t want to owe anyone anything. Yet, I don’t mind helping people when they need it. Weird, right?

    I guess it comes down to time. I value my time sooo much that sometimes, I don’t always feel up to helping someone or available to help someone. Sometimes, I’m way to overwhelmed with my own life!

    But when someone asks, I’m there, without even thinking about it or the fact that they may ask for a favor later. I’ve also learned that sometimes, I can say no. Which has always been difficult for me to do anyway.

    I’m learning!

  4. I have a different selfish reason for helping people out: It makes me feel valuable and useful. This is probably because people hardly ever ask for my help, so when someone does turn to me, it’s gratifying.

    Frankly, it really bothers me when a friend needs help and doesn’t think of me. “What, I’m not good enough to help you?”

    I understand your mom’s comment. We all need help from time to time, and it’s much harder to ask someone for a favor if they never ask you for anything. I don’t see it as being selfish, I see it as doing your part to live up to the social contract. What goes around comes around. You get out of it what you put into it. Karma and all that.

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  6. While I enjoy doing things for others just because it’s nice, I’ll admit that I like the way it makes me feel…so maybe that is selfish in a way.

    On the other hand, I’m one of those people who will rarely, if ever, ask for help. It hate feeling like a burden, or feeling as though I’ve somehow failed because I can’t deal with things on my own so I will go to very great lengths to never ask for anything.

    I also tend to appologize a lot, which perhaps goes hand in hand with wanting to avoid being a burden. Sorry I was a few minutes late, Sorry I need to use the computer a moment. I’m so sorry to ask you to do X,Y, or Z. Even if it’s your job, I feel like a heel for asking them to do it.

    Ya, I know… I have issues.

  7. No matter the words… It sounds like you heard something different then she was saying.

    I don’t think your Mom meant it in a way that preferred a Tit-4-Tat relationship. I believe she was just trying to say that it made her feel good you have someone you can count on if you found yourself in a similar situation.

    As far as doing good unto others whether it be opening a door or babysitting, a good deed is a good deed it doesn’t become a debt. Good deeds can’t be repaid, only acknowledged.

    Peace…

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