Everyday I wake up the slate is clean. No one owes me anything. I treated my wife and kids wonderful the day before for myself along with them. I treated friends, associates, and employees with respect the day before to harvest a culture and live a good life. However, when I woke up today I don’t think they owe me a thing.
I thought about this philosophical idea the first time when I was 16. My grandma helped me get a cheap car. However, over the next several weeks she asked for favor after favor and when on a Sunday I did like 3 things for her but refused the 4th, she tried to proclaim that I was in her debt for the vehicle she helped me get. This experience made me always view sour old people the same … They view nice acts they perform out of self-interest a debt to another person.
I realized that too many old people lose their looks, physical abilities, money and power and resent the people they used to have relationships with. These people have no desire to be around their elderly relative due to their resentful and petty outlook. This isn’t just the case with old people, but it is most obviously exemplified with them.
Yesterday my wife and I traded love, affection, finances, and other values but that isn’t a claim upon her today. Being a jerk today isn’t excused because I was nice yesterday. I have to make this relationship valuable to her today, and she has to do the same with me. I don’t mean it in a sort of way that no one can ever have a bad day … Just that it is no one’s obligation to deal with me if the relationship/trade stops working in their favor.
If an employee quits, or my teenage child wants to ditch out on a family event that is there prerogative and they aren’t in my debt.
This outlook makes sure I trade for value today. It makes it so I try my best to treat people well, but also expect to be treated well. I believe that it will make it so I don’t take advantage of my relationships and become a sour and lonely person. I also believe it acknowledges a more fundamental understanding of human nature.