Ninety-nine percent of the people I’ve met have seen the show “Friends.”
And 100 percent of them loved it.
I am a millennial who grew up watching that show, laughing out loud at their silliest jokes, and waiting for Joey to come into the room with his famous “How you doin'” catchphrase.
But, perhaps, what I failed to noticed as I watched it for the first time were several of the question marks they raise concerning big concepts such as what is universally accepted and what isn’t (Phoebe holding her brother and his wife’s children in her womb because his wife couldn’t get pregnant), the extent to which a lover is willing to compromise to make a relationship work (Rachel dropping the Paris offer to be with Ross), and many more.
But one of the most striking episodes that got me thinking for quite a while was the one where Joey and Phoebe have a long discussion about the nature of acts of kindness.
Joey states that all acts of kindness are selfish, and Phoebe refuses to believe that.
Funnily enough, she gets herself stabbed by a bee to say that she just wants to make the bee happy, although this brings nothing but pain to herself. Joey assures her that the bee is dead, and that wasn’t really an act of kindness.
To him, even the gestures we do for other people that give us nothing in return are done to make us feel good about ourselves. And that in itself is selfish.
As much as some might think that it’s just a comedy show meant to make us laugh, I couldn’t help thinking about this.
Am I really being selfish in everything I do for others?
I posed this question one night on one of Elephant’s Facebook pages, and the responses were a mixture of “all acts of kindness are somehow selfish” and “when sacrifice is involved, it shouldn’t be considered selfish.”
After pondering the answers for quite some time and having healthy discussions with my friends and family about this issue, I asked myself, “Does it really matter?”
If the satisfaction we get after doing a good deed is considered an act of selfishness, then nothing we ever do is really selfless.
I personally believe that if whatever we’re doing is making a positive change, and we’re not doing it so people will praise us, then that’s all that matters.
You can check out the scenes from that “Friends” episode here: