Jan 9, 2016
Many of us know the popular phrase “Sharing is Caring.” I first heard it as part of the Kindergarten classroom mantra and it continues to be used in our home and the community to encourage children to share, take turns, and be generous with their friends and peers. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, but that’s the not the point here :).
Even though kindergarten is far behind me, I feel like I relate so well to this mantra and I’m grateful to be surrounded by others who feel the same way. Maybe it goes without saying, but I feel like life is so much better – and often so much smoother and easier – when we share. This movement towards making things easier and enlightening each other no doubt helps to explain the evolution and growth of a sharing culture and economy, and websites, portals, and social media groups that attract like-minded individuals in similar life stages or with similar goals – think Uber and Airbnb. Why go at it alone when someone else has a better/faster/cheaper/healthier/cooler way? Whether it’s ideas, networking contacts, physical objects, advice, information, or just a listening ear – the way I see it, sharing isn’t just caring, it’s just better living. And especially when it comes to one-to-one or small group sharing, the interesting thing I’ve noticed is that we really have to be listening – I mean truly have our ears open – to be an active sharer on both the giving and receiving ends.
A few examples in my own life in the last few weeks went something like this: My good friend is looking for freelance work in a particular area. Because I’ve been tuned into her personal and professional goals, my radar has been up and introducing her to a friend and business owner who was looking for the type of services my friend offers flowed naturally. On the receiving end, I shared a personal challenge with a friend who listened, processed, and offered some very wise, practical advice. I was on the receiving end of a great Shabbat table activity in the form of a PDF document – so simple, yet so valuable. I immediately forwarded it onto a group of women who I thought would enjoy it as well. A friend and I, both full-time working moms, exchanged monthly meal plans and recipes for our families. We both struggle with the same meal-planning challenge so why not help each other get a leg up?
I posted a request to borrow a specific book on Facebook that wasn’t available at the library; a couple of days later, I had the book in hand – and saving the money I would have otherwise spent is a great bonus. New friends and old have opened their homes to us for Shabbat dinners and lunches, which have been overflowing with thoughtful and meaningful conversations – and some good laughs of course. The list goes on and on.
None of this is rocket science and we all probably have similar lists, but all this sharing (and caring) really puts a smile on my face, especially knowing that as long as I’m open and listening, I’m never really alone.
Moving into 2016, I’ve set some goals for myself ranging from books to read on character development, marriage, and parenting, healthy food and menu preparation, completing a business-related course, continuing with a meditation program, and building and strengthening friendships within my community. I’ll put it out there now – I don’t think I’ll be able to accomplish these goals without relying on others’ generosity. I know my limitations, and probably more importantly, I know there’s such an abundance of knowledge and wisdom around me. And if you know me at all, I’m not afraid to ask questions or tap into others’ expertise and education. Of course, I will continue to do my part to listen, share, and help others tackle challenges I might have experience with. And I hope I can make someone else’s moment/day/week just a little bit smoother by keeping my ears open.
I love this quote from the Dalai Lama: “When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new.”
If we all continue to listen and even increase this activity in our everyday lives, the sharing will no doubt expand in proportion. And when we share and make something easier or smoother for someone else, or receive to simplify a task or think of a challenge in a new way, we might free up some mental and emotional capacity for personal growth, learning, connection, and reflection. Ultimately, it’s these things that make life meaningful. And living a life full of meaning and connection is really the end goal for me. It’s kind of neat to think that I’m working towards this lofty life goal with something as simple as sharing recipes.
So in the spirit of sharing, please offer your thoughts, reflections, and “sharing experiences” in the comments below.
Because Sharing is Caring and it’s definitely not just a kindergarten thing.