We all share this world. It is a simple fact. No one lives isolated on their own planet in their own galaxy. Even the astronauts on the International Space Station share (pardon the pun) space. IT is something mankind has been doing since it first appeared on the planet and yet, it is probably the thing we do the worst. Why are we so lousy at it?
The concept of sharing, the occupying or involvement in the distribution of one thing among more than one, is, as previously mentioned nothing new. Even the very first being in the species that walks on two feet instead of four shared things. We inhabit a planet that is shared with nature and the animal kingdom, with plants and hardscapes, and other beings that both live in water and on land as well as in the air above us. Life could not exist without that sharing and yet, we really are not good at it, even though we have been doing it since the dawn of existence.
More modern definitions of sharing involve social behavior via the Internet. Recently the New York Times Customer Insight Group conducted a study based upon interviews in three large metropolitan areas. The purpose of the study was to answer one simple question: “Why do people share?” The resulting paper entitled “The Psychology of Sharing” was directed toward insights to improve marketing but some of what they learned can also be applied to our “doing good habits”, our sharing of life in making the ordinary extraordinary.
Much of this study involved the online sharing that people do via such tools as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. The results yielded that seventy-three percent felt they processed information “more deeply, more thoroughly and thoughtfully” when they shared it. Eighty-five percent stated they understood and processed information better when they “read other people’s responses”. How might this translate into our giving habits?
Many of us have closets full of items we seldom wear and yet, when it comes time to clean out that closet, suddenly those items take on new meaning. The very thought of giving something away or sharing it with others tends to bring to light new value to the item and we are hesitant to donate it. However, when we see the joy it can bring to others, when we imagine their response, then we are more likely to donate those excess pieces.
“[I share] to enrich the lives of those around me.” This comment by one participant sums up what we all should feel. What it leave out is that it also enriches own our lives. We need to recognize that we share everything whether we are cognizant of it or not. The air we breathe is made up of air exhaled by others and by the world around us.
Recently Sir Paul McCartney gave a speech advocating the vegetarian lifestyle, stating that the methane gas produced by beef cattle was having an adverse effect on the environment. Beef cattle do produce methane gas. It is a byproduct of living. The fact is that all plants and animals produce methane gas and dairy cattle produce twice as much as beef cattle. Sir Paul was not wrong in his statement but it was short-sighted. Better use of our resources means we should live in balance not elimination of what can be for some a necessary source of iron and protein.
We share this planet with things that are different from us. It is what makes living in balance possible. We need to ascertain that our living respects those differences rather than trying to make everything the same. There is no way to live in a bland one-dimensional world and do so in good health. Variety is not only the spice of life. It is the essential format for our beings. It is what keeps our planet in balance.
Sharing creates relationships and we all need relationships to live. They help us feel connected as well as define who and what we are. To grow as beings and to improve our living, we need to share. Sharing involves respect and decency as well as kindness but the results are rich in self-fulfillment. Every living thing has value and by sharing we recognize that value. So clean out a closet or retweet a favorite tweet. Post a beloved quote or comment on a beautiful picture. Share this thing we call life and make today a great day to be alive!