The Joy of Sharing

Happy Kid by Anestiev via Pixabay (Open Source)

The joy of sharing is one of my earliest memories. I must have been three, maybe four. We were eating a meal from a fast-food restaurant and I got french fries. A rare treat in our family. I offered my Dad a fry and it really made him happy. I remember thinking it was worth it to give something I enjoyed to someone else if it makes them happy. So I offered him another one. He and maybe one of the other adults there commented that I was generous. That also made me happy, and a little curious. If it was noteworthy, then does that mean other people don’t like to share?

Now that I can look back at the scene as a relative outsider, and as someone who studied child development in grad school, it is kind of funny how kids can be generous at that age. Because they do not possess the ability to delay gratification yet. So they are not doing it for a later reward. Maybe there is something intrinsic in us that likes to share? Or maybe with some of us more than others? I think it’s possible I have what psychologists call the “agreeable” personality type. Could it be even more basic? When we feel safe and loved, we seek joy in these kinds of ways, I think. We love in turn. It makes me think of my sister’s son, too, who is a generous child and very loving.

Going back to my earlier question, the curiosity I experienced so many years ago, why don’t people like to share? Is it because it means they have less of what they want, and therefore experience it as a loss? Are some people not wired to share, at least not as a reflex? This is really a core issue. Because if we share, we all get more, and waste less. If we feel safe and loved, do we naturally share? Is this really the first priority for bringing in a new paradigm for humanity? Overall other more “urgent” issues? Because collaboration relies on sharing, too, right? And we aren’t going to have a very good future if collaboration doesn’t become more central to human identity again.

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