The Fallacy of Free

There’s this thought in the world: if you offer a good or a service, you should give it away for free to all your friends and family. And perhaps to various, sundry acquaintances, as well.

It seems “fair” enough. What are friends for, after all? To take care of each other, lift each other up, and show love and kindness.

But here’s the fallacy of free:

When you–as a professional–give away your service or product for free, you are showing generosity. Correct? That’s a no-brainer.

But when you–as the friend or family member–offer to pay for the service or product, you are also showing generosity.

Turns out, generosity is a two-way street.

I know the social norm of “friends and family are free,” but I prefer to flip that notion on its side and say, “friends and family are worth supporting.” I prefer to pay for the book they wrote, to pay for the picture they painted, to pay for the help they give me. It makes me feel good to support those I love, it helps them to thrive, and it tells them loudly and clearly that I value them.

Aparigraha, non-greed, is a very complex and nuanced concept. If you are taking from someone else something that you could just as easily pay for, maybe step back and ask why. Is it more important that you get something for free as your prize for proximity, or can you support those you love and create a win-win for everyone involved?

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