Mom’s lesson in give-and-take is a masterclass on why favors should work both ways

According to research, when performing an act of generosity, the brain releases feel-good chemicals, a phenomenon known as “helper’s high.”

A recent Reddit post made people rethink everything they knew about give-and-take and how being overly helpful may not always have the desired effect. A wonderful parenting example shared on the MadeMeSmile subreddit detailed a valuable lesson learned from one’s mother about being a good neighbor. “I heard my mother asking our neighbor for some salt. I asked her why she was asking them as we had salt at home. She replied: ‘It’s because they’re always asking us for things; they’re poor. So I thought I’d ask something small from them so as not to burden them but at the same time make them feel as if we need them too.'” the post read.

“That way it’ll be easier for them to ask us for anything they need form us,”  it concluded. This thought-provoking lesson resonated with many Reddit users, including some who had never considered the full scope of a helping hand. A few people who grew up with limited resources shared their side of the story and how the sense of being equally helpful helped them maintain their dignity even during the most difficult times in their lives.

“Being someone who grew up poor, I understand this pride and fear of becoming a burden on others. What always helped my mother was feeling like she earned whatever we got. So neighbors and family would have her or us help with something in exchange for something we needed. It helped us both with whatever we needed as well as helping us retain our pride and humanity,” explained TheGreatPlathetsby. “I honestly do the same thing with people struggling in my community that I know. It allows them to accept help and both of us to retain our fullest sense of humanity. We have made the idea of struggling or being poor meaning you haven’t tried or worked enough when that often isn’t the case.”

“Receiving support ends up feeling like you are admitting you have failed in some aspect. I wish we could get past this idea, but in the meantime I am so happy others are taking how a struggling family feels in mind,” a Reddit user commented. The important lesson made an impression on Reddit user adrock747, who wrote: “That is such a decent thing to do. I need to remember this and try to live up to this example. Good stuff.”

Meanwhile, Reddit user Aerron explained why many people find it difficult to accept help or favors without being able to repay it in some way.  “It feels good to help others. So maybe if we can let others help us more, we can help others feel good. This is a good plan,” they pointed out. “I never thought of it like that, but I think you’re absolutely right. Amazing how one sentence can change how you percieve something that has been cemented in your mind for years,” responded Reddit user DefNotAHuman.

Giving back, as Aerron points out, has a physical impact on your body. According to HuffPost, doing good for others activates the mesolimbic system, which is the part of the brain responsible for feelings of reward. According to research, when one performs an act of generosity, the brain releases feel-good chemicals, a phenomenon psychologists refer to as “helper’s high.” Such actions have been found to boost an individual’s self-esteem and overall well-being, while increased feelings of social connectedness also help one’s self-esteem.