The Give and Take- Favors
Are favours a complicated business. Favours are good. And bad. And divine. And dangerous. We operate in a vastly transactional culture. You do this for me, I’ll do that for you.
A Primer on Favours—Rife with Contradictions:
- Be very mindful who you ask for favours. If you ask someone you don’t respect to give you a leg up—even though you really really need one, and it would be so easy breezy for them to oblige—you may be in the position one day to help out that same someone. That kind of scratch-my-back-and-I’ll-scratch-yours karma takes a bite out of your integrity—and potentially your reputation.
- Regrettable favours happen all the time. It’s part of learning and leading in life.
- Just because you took a favour doesn’t mean you have to grant a favour. But yeah, whenever you can, try to return the favour. Maybe you can’t grant a specific request, but even so, you can ask, “How else can I help?” — that is something one can count on.
- If it feels soul-sapping to lend a hand, if you’re uncomfortable or compromising, then please, please, bow out. I like my favours squeaky clean. I think that as a concept, obligation blows. Why do anything that feels heavy and dutiful? Either reframe it into a positively empowered choice, or back away from it.
- Favour boundaries can be useful for everyone. I have good author friends who have sweeping policies that they do not give testimonials for books—to anyone. That keeps it simple. It’s easy for them to say no, and nobody’s feelings get hurt. Be clear!
- Favour boundaries can turn your heart into a prune. Just show up for your friends, in the middle of the night, when it’s inconvenient. Suck it up and get your soul in gear.
- When you are looking for a return of a favor from someone or a result for your good deed, you want it quickly. When you realize life is short, procrastination falls away. But when you know that there are many lifetimes, you realize that if you don’t get it sooner, you get it later. When you want to enjoy the fruit of action know that life is eternal. If someone doesn’t appreciate your efforts or takes advantage of you, thank them because they will pay you back later with interest. When it comes to enjoying the fruit of your actions, good deeds or even blessings, know that life is eternal. Anytime that you are in a hurry, you cannot enjoy. Be patient.
- It doesn’t matter how enlightened you are: If you grant a favour to someone, it gets filed in your memory box of good deeds. And so it should—good is good. But favours become transcendent acts of love when you’re not attached to how they get returned. You may help someone today, and the favour could be returned by your neighbour, or a stranger, three years from now.
True ‘n’ free favours are like beads on a cosmic abacus, accounted for by invisible forces, and returned just when we need them the most.