Creating a better and brighter future requires creating a future that everyone can be grateful for. So, what gets in the way of being grateful?
To be grateful for what you have, it helps to have enough. Having enough food when you’re hungry, enough warmth when you’re cold, and enough support when you’re in need of assistance are all easy to be grateful for. It is when you don’t have enough of what you need that it becomes more difficult to feel gratitude.
At this point in the evolution of our species, we now have sufficient technology and resources to ensure that everyone has enough. We are entirely capable of ending all war, all famine, and all poverty. Yet, we have failed to do so. Why?
The short answer is greed.
Greed is able to inflate economic activity by increasing the demand for goods and services to be transacted. Yet, greed is not good. Greed is harmful, both for the greedy and for the impoverished population that inevitably results.
Greed persists largely because people engaged in greed are more likely to survive and reproduce than those who pay the price for the greed of others. Yet, greed still harms the greedy, by replacing healthy and productive cooperation with dysfunctional and needless conflict. Choosing to engage in greed results in marginally increased personal gain at the cost of substantially reduced collective productivity.
Collective productivity is important because humanity is a social species. Human beings evolved not as independent individuals but as interdependent tribe, clan, and family members. This means that we evolved to share.
As human beings, we are naturally more productive and successful when we cooperate as teams than when we fight amongst ourselves for personal gain. This ability to be productive and successful collectively is what has allowed us to become the most dominant species on our planet.
As hunter-gatherers, it was essential to our survival for us to share in the yield of the hunt and in the knowledge of what was helpful to gather where and when. As we evolved to be more and more productive with the rise of agriculture, fishing, and trade, it became increasingly possible to personally benefit from greed in the short term by stealing the resources of others. It even became seemingly profitable to commit murder and war. Yet now, the tide has turned, once again.
There simply is no other way to create a better and brighter future, as the alternative is more war, more famine, more poverty, and more self-destruction. Fundamentally, a better and brighter future requires us to accept and understand that merit comes from generosity, not from the accumulation of personal wealth at the expense of others.
To practice sharing from your surplus, start small and work your way up. Share a smile, an acknowledgment, a compliment, or a hug. If you’re able, lend a hand, a tool, or something else that someone needs. If you can afford to give gifts, give them and donate from your surplus. The more you share from your surplus, the more blessed you are to feel the joy of giving, a joy that we evolved to feel as cooperative members of healthy families, clans, and tribes.
Before continuing on to Step 6 of this series, take time now and throughout the day to practice sharing from your surplus. Start small and see how much you are able to share before you start experiencing discomfort. Then, assuming that you still have more of a surplus, see if you can stretch yourself just a little bit beyond your comfort zone and share even more. The more you practice doing so, the more light you shine as you lead the way toward a better and brighter future.