Words on Wellness: Sharing
November marks the celebration of gratitude for the abundance we have, and invites us to deepen our sharing with each other and all beings. The human world is so boisterous that we can accidentally become cloistered in our version of reality, practically forgetting the many other species we live amongst. It’s sobering to realize that as our population enlarges and attempts to meet its many needs, other creatures are lessening at alarming rates. Still, each day we are invited to connect and share our lives, whether with strangers on the street, whales passing by, or birds returning to winter on our coast. I greet the arrival of sooty fox sparrows like old friends who have been away all summer - how precious our time together.
There are withered buds and dead branches I want to clear, for aesthetics and a profusion of spring bloom. However, by taking time to watch those setting up avian winter camp, I notice song sparrows and chickadees balancing on these branches to nibble off seeds I can’t see. Surely, I can wait a month or two to prune. I collect calendula seeds for later planting, but make a point of leaving some to share. Bees still work on a wizened tower of jewels and my forever-green tomatoes seem a welcome novelty for the sibling stellar jays. Each morning I enjoy sharing fresh apple, cutting the meaty cores it in smaller pieces for golden crown sparrows who eagerly await the treat.
Sharing promotes health by increasing levels of oxytocin the “feel good” hormone that reduces stress levels in the body. Studies show that those who share positive actions and experiences have measurable increases in happiness and life satisfaction. This happiness factor increases when there’s a positive response to sharing by someone actively receiving. Some may fear giving if there is a focus on a perceived loss. But when we give naturally of our time, love, friendship and attention, what we’re really doing is expressing more of who we are. Instead of losing something, we are being authentic, which in turn brings us happiness. The more we share, the more we experience gratitude in our lives. By opening up to others, we invite them to open to us and this creates connection and community – a way to become more intimate with the world.