Are we really hardwired to share? Its a question that came up during a random chat with a friend – and I thought it was best to validate the hypothesis against extreme situations. If stuff works in the extremes, it works everywhere.
Lets take the “happiness” extreme first. An executive comes to know he’s won his first big deal, the nurse informs the nervous man at the hospital that the lovely infant she’s holding is his daughter, a chess prodigy wins his first tournament – moments of immense happiness and achievement. For all of the three people, their first impulse on receiving the news would not be to place an order for a ferrari or a jet, but to share their immense joy with those they love. If you are one of the loved ones, you can expect a message from the “happy” folks within minutes. So “sharing” does appear to be the primal impulse for “joyful” stuff.
Let’s look at moments of pain now. A toddler hurts herself badly, a man loses his fortune to an event of destiny, a wife loses her husband to cancer – momentous moments when tragedy seems to take over one’s life. In such moments, after the initial denial and resistance phases, we seem to give over ourselves to a higher power – and hopefully grieve/ suffer in some peace. The toddler runs to her mother for comfort, the man beckons his god for help in reversing his fortunes and the wife probably reaches out to her spiritual guides for lending her strength and understanding during these trying times.
Thus, in moments of pain too, we seem to reach out to share. Of course, while we share our happiness with the intention of having the joy multiply, we offload our worries to those stronger than us hoping to diminish the pain. Either way, the theory that we are hardwired to share seems to hold good.
That said, why do so many of us feel stifled – the sense that we have humongous cares and no one to share them with? That we have the sense of being the unluckiest folks on earth – as evidenced by the numerous long faces, sad shares on facebook (with no responses) and the many long lonely sessions at our overflowing bars?
Perhaps, the issue is more fundamental. Not having a way to share (talking about it, meditating, journalling, dancing, crying, laughing – whatever) seems to be the biggest concern. Drowning sorrows in intoxicants doesn’t seem to be helping.
Even more importantly, not having someone to share our emotions with (a friend, a colleague, a family, a god, a belief system) is a big worry.
The redressals of course are very simple – the implementation and the will to implement it is where we seem to have the challenge. All we need to do is perhaps lighten up a little, stop taking ourselves so seriously. And perhaps perfect the skill of becoming mindful of our world through these new eyes – there are tons of people waiting to be helped and waiting to help as well.
If we can perceive reality dispassionately, we will participate compassionately. No two ways about that.