If you have ever grown your own food, you will have noticed the overwhelming urge to SHARE your produce with your friends, neighbours and co-workers. I absolutely love to make gifts of gleaming tomatoes and freshly laid eggs. If feels thoroughly satisfying and joyful to be generous with these lovely things. Why is that?
Is it because instinctively, I recognise that I didn’t really grow them – the vegetables actually grew themselves and are a gift to me, a gift to be shared? Or is it pride in sharing my success as a gardener and food provider? Or perhaps it is because, at a ancestral, tribal level we know that food that is not shared is wasted.
I like to think that it is even more meaningful than that. Sharing is a way of showing gratitude and this probably does hark back to a time when the most generous of the tribe were the leaders – to be generous was to be gracious. They knew that to give was to express gratitude for all the gifts they had received from the world.
Charles Eisenstein author of the book Sacred Economics says “Gratitude … is natural to us, so primal, so elemental that it is very difficult to define. Perhaps it is the feeling of having received a gift, and the desire to give in turn “.
I participated in a neighbourhood ‘crop swap’ recently and you know what I noticed? The desire to giving exceeded the desire to receive – for everyone. This is such a ‘problem’ for Dean the organiser that he is often left at the end of the day with far more produce than he can use!
For me, it felt wonderful to give our surplus produce but I felt a little hesitant in the ‘taking’. This is the exact opposite of how the commercial world works of course! When money is at stake we are all trying to maximise the trade for our benefit.
At the crop swap, the joy was definitely in the sharing. And of course, as givers, we need people to act as receivers, it makes us feel GREAT to know that our gifts are welcome and appreciated.
The sharing economy is a thriving part of the modern world. The internet has allowed the flowering of generosity of all kinds – information, inspiration, as well as a myriad of services that have integrated seamlessly into our lives (the most obvious being Google and Facebook). We now expect many things to be free that previously didn’t exist at all or were kept behind barriers.
As consumers of all this generosity, I think it is also important to offer gifts as well. Giving is an act that brings happiness to us and to others. But how do we know if we are being generous enough? I think that if we feel that we are being slightly more generous than those around us then we have probably got it about right (but to be sure, give a little more!).
I encourage you to engage in a random act of sharing today.
Even after all this time
The sun never says to the earth,
“You owe Me.”
Look what happens
with a love like that,
It lights the Whole Sky.
I would love to hear your stories about gratitude and the joy of sharing.