People usually thank me for every help I give them. I can’t remember any situation where I helped someone and didn’t get a quick “thank you” in return.
In some situations I really enjoy helping, especially when you get a big thanks afterwards, and in some less, like helping in the kitchen or so – which doesn’t mean I’m never doing it! But let’s focus on the nice stuff.
I really enjoy helping someone with problems of thought, like answering mathematical, logical or even philosophical questions. The great thing about these is that you really have to think yourself into the problem and try to get closer to the answer step by step by creating new ideas and trashing them again after proving them wrong. The good thing is that you can often keep some single thoughts of it and thus creating the solution out of multiple ideas. It’s somehow fascinating to see how (hopefully) all the ideas merge into one solution in the end, a big puzzle of all the small true pieces in every idea. If you can create this with someone else, it’s much nicer, because others get ideas from a complete different point of view (especially in philosophy!). That’s why I’m always very happy if someone asks me for some ideas on an interesting topic and I’m eager to help, aiming for a beautiful solution in the end. Getting a thanks afterwards fills me with a feeling of pride, that I was able to bring in some thoughts and help on the problem.
It’s somehow funny that sometimes you don’t have to create any ideas to already help. Often it’s already enough to just listen to someone, especially when it’s about something in the private life. Problems here are often very complex, so finding a solution is mostly not possible, but already listening to someone and showing him that he’s not alone on this, can already help a lot. From what I experienced you don’t really have to bring up ideas (I often found myself not being able to do so), just focusing on the story and listen to it attentively is enough to make someone feel much better. And who knows? Maybe the story also gives some inspiration for one’s own problems or view of life. So afterwards I always feel thoughtful about the talk, trying to find some ideas to solve the situation, but also having some nice feeling in my stomach which makes me comfortable with myself.
There is one thing though, which often bothers me about helping. When people start to think about help as some kind of currency, which you can only get when you give something in return. I don’t like the idea of helping someone knowing it creates an urge in him to return something in exchange. It leaves me somehow uncomfortable. Also I don’t like getting help when it’s just because someone is owing me something or expecting something from me. Personally I enjoy helping much more, when I just get a simple but honest thanks in return, without wasting a thought about any depths or so.
Why do we always have to weigh the “helps” against each other instead of simply accepting it? In my opinion you can’t really value help and thus thinking about depths doesn’t help anyone. If someone helps me I like him more and help him more, but not simply because I owe him something but because I think of him as a person who is worth it and I don’t care if I put more effort in it or whatever value you want to use to assign “help” some kind of “fair” value. It would be more helpful for everyone, if we would stop thinking about it as a currency and instead just help more.