Doesn’t it feel good to have something we can share with others? And isn’t it much easier if we feel like there is enough of it? For example, say we get our favorite cake for our birthday. We are happy and enjoy a piece of it. And we are happy because we can share this delicious cake with others. This is much easier if we have the feeling that we have enough—it’s nice if that favorite cake is a big cake, isn’t it?
However, regarding generosity, especially if we have the self-image that we are a kind, open, and supportive person, we can find ourselves in situations in which we might become very self-critical because we have the idea that we aren’t giving as we should. Maybe we even start acting differently than we spontaneously feel like acting, because we think we should be better than we are.
I guess we all have our own stories and experiences around this subject. When I was a teenager, my mother once baked two of my favorite cakes for my birthday, using tons of eggs, butter, hazelnuts and chocolate. They were not at all healthy and also not easy to bake. In the previous year she observed that I was sharing my delicious chocolate cake with everybody, but she also remembered that it was a bit of a challenge for me to do so. So she prepared two of those cakes for the next year. Her wish was to give me a deep experience of “enough” as a birthday present. This had a very deep effect. I was so astonished that I shared these cakes with everybody. I even brought some friends a piece home. I felt not only the joy to offer this delicious cake, but also the special joy of sharing.
We would like to be the person we would like to be and we have an image of that. Especially as an engaged and maybe spiritual person we like to be there for others. We would like to give others what they need. That might be an open ear, some food, support in a difficult situation, loving understanding, a beautiful experience, and a lot more. But the truth is that we can’t do it all the time. We have a certain space and certain abilities and also our limitations. We can’t fulfill all the wishes and needs of others. Nevertheless there are invariably situations in which we can and this is a wonderful experience.
If we are offering or sharing something with others we also see our own qualities. They are there for ourselves and they are also supportive for others. Sometimes they are qualities and gifts we are not even aware of. Seeing that our abilities are benefiting others can allow us to see (maybe for the first time) that we have them. To offer or share these is one aspect of our wealth.
Our inner conflict
There is a conflict if we experience a situation in which we can’t give, share, or help. We notice our limit, and in that first moment, we are not so sure how to act. Maybe there is the thought “we should do it anyway,” or the thought “that’s just too much to do.” Nevertheless for a moment we feel the conflict and then we decide spontaneously or very consciously what to do. If we live in an inner world of lack those situations feel different than if we live in an inner world of abundance.
In many ways it’s not our own choice if we have a lot or not. But it definitely lies within our own power to choose to value what we have. Some of us have a lot of material wealth while others have more personal gifts. Again others might be relatively poor outwardly, but inside they feel rich, happy, and content.
Which are the things we like to offer or share? And which are the ones others like us to share with them? Our time? Our money? Our life? Our knowledge and abilities? Is it our loving attention or our life experience? Our humor? Even if we have the feeling we can’t help somebody at all, there might be a good wish or loving thought we can share right there. Perhaps you remember an experience like that.
Three decades ago my mother did not have a lot of money or time when she baked the two cakes. But she had a lot of love and the wish to give me a huge experience of joy for my birthday. She is still a fast baker and certainly was then. With the ingredients and her time she created a very beautiful and wise experience for me which still lasts. It was not just a cake, it was a great experience of abundance, understanding, and love. In a similar way we can use many situations in our own life to share what we have and create beautiful experiences for ourselves and others.
In Buddhism I found a wonderful story about the difference between heaven and hell.
Here is hell: People sit together at enormous tables piled high with the most delicious food imaginable. Cakes and exotic fruits and roasts, the favorites of every person at the feast, whatever they most wish for. But the only utensils these poor people have with which to eat are exceptionally long spoons, so long that they are unable to reach their own mouths. So they sit for eons in desperate hunger. And here is heaven: The same tables, the same food, the same spoons. And the people feed each other joyfully.
I wish a beautiful and still summery week for all of you!
P.S: Please feel free to join my new online course “Joy and Ease”.