As I sat on the bus listening to the driver scream abuse at the poor woman sitting in front of me, I felt so alone. More than anything, I wanted someone to share this experience with. The bus where this all happened was inside the Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee. The installation gave visitors like me the opportunity to re-enact Rosa Parks’ protest and the anger of the conductor who finally had her arrested. As the emotions flooded through me, I longed for my wife or a good friend to be sitting beside me so that we could share the experience and process it later together.
THE POWER OF SHARING
There is something magical about the resonance and connection that happens between two people when they share a significant experience or story. We are designed for these connections and we seek them out whenever we can. And when we find someone with whom to share these moments, our experience becomes far richer. Whatever abundance we may discover as we journey through life multiplies when it is shared.
Even when it comes to money, research has shown that sharing enriches the lives not just of those who receive, but—perhaps even more so—of those who give. As Michael Norton explains in his wonderful TED talk it turns out that money actually can buy happiness—when we spend it on others.
SHARING BRINGS ABUNDANCE
Sharing is one of the most basic lessons that we teach our children. We know that, in order for them to get along with their peers, and fit into civilised society, they will need to learn to share. But we also know that if they can master the art of sharing, their own lives will be richer, more connected with others and with themselves, and far more abundant. Sharing is not just caring for others. It is a gift of caring to ourselves. And it is a doorway to abundant life.
When we share the abundance we enjoy with others, whether it’s a moment of beauty, or the sense of wonder at a musical masterpiece, or a side-splitting joke, we invite them into our lives and into our world. We enrich their experience of life by giving them more than just their own perspectives and feelings. We open a window to a whole different way of being. And when they respond positively and enter into our sharing, they enrich our lives and open a window for us too.
As an example, I invite you to take a few minutes to watch the magnificent sound engineer Rick Beato explain why a song is so great. I guarantee your life will be richer and more filled with wonder as he shares his awe and excitement at what a musical genius can do. Here he is talking about one of my favourite songs, Kiss From A Rose, by Seal.
MAKING SHARING A SPIRITUAL PRACTICE
When we embrace sharing in this spirit we move away from all the potentially negative power dynamics that can arise in charitable giving. True sharing is not a condescending generosity, but an invitation into relationship and into a kind of intimacy of shared lives and experiences—even if only for a moment. With the way abundance of life and love and joy flow into our lives when we share, it’s a tragedy that we don’t embrace sharing far more regularly and freely.
But here’s the good news: sharing is a really easy spiritual practice to turn into a habit. You don’t need anything to do it, and it takes no skill or training. You just need another person and something wonderful to share.
YOUR TURN TO SHARE
So what can you share with the people around you today? How can you nurture the practice of sharing in your own life and spirituality? How has sharing enriched your life? And what suggestions do you have for how to cultivate the practice of sharing more consistently?
Let’s share the abundance by joining the conversation. Please share your stories of sharing and the abundance you have enjoyed as a result. God knows we can use a little shared joy and hope right now!
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