HERE is an equation that you will not find in any mathematics book A joy shared is multiplied, a burden shared is divided. There is something similar in a Swedish proverb that says, “Shared joy is a double joy; shared sorrow is half a sorrow”.
I first heard it more than 10 years ago at a gathering to celebrate the retirement of a friend from the teaching profession.
Her husband used it to illustrate the kind of impact his wife had made on so many lives, from the students she taught, to the teachers she worked with.
He spoke about how his wife, a biology teacher, would beam with joy each time her student achieved something and shared it with her.
Although she taught her fair share of bright young sparks with their strings of A's, her joy overflowed in the heartwarming stories of the problem students who gave their best and transformed their character under her charge.
She always had time for others and it was only natural that her students and colleagues turned to her whenever they were in trouble. And sharing their burdens with her always helped, hence the second part of the equation.
Over the years, this couple has taught me a lot about life. Though past their mid-60s, their post-retirement life is amazingly full and they astound me with their energy and passion.
While the wife continues to pour her heart out to inspire teachers never to give up on their students, the husband is out there visiting the elderly and the sick, often with his trusty old guitar strung over his shoulders in case they want him to sing.
The wife was in Penang recently for a conference and a mutual friend, also a former teacher, shared with me: “She has touched so many lives with her fire and passion. And she remains steadfast, immovable, always abounding in good work, knowing that her labour is not in vain.”
I could not agree with her more.
Many people, unfortunately, do not believe in sharing, be it good or bad news.
There are some who feel that if they share good news, they may come across as being boastful. Some just do not want to share any form of bad news because they are afraid of being harshly judged.
I recently edited a book of short stories which rejuvenated my belief that sharing is indeed a powerful testimony. There were heart-wrenching stories of those who went through trials and tribulations; extraordinary stories of blessings in ordinary situations; and simple tales from young people struggling with college or work.
Editing the book while I was going through my own medical journey, I am thankful that I was not alone, and that others too had difficult mountains to climb.
And I was especially blessed by those who shared good news, because we often take such sharing for granted.
Telling your wife she is wonderful, thanking your boss for the promotion, or smiling at the toll collector are ways we pass on the blessings in our life.
As I mentioned in my column last week, life is certainly not a bed of roses. But if we learn to share our moments of joy, the multiplier effect can be tremendous. Likewise, when we share our burdens, things will not look so bad after all.
Mathematicians look at numbers to arrive at a perfect solution. We must look at life and embrace our imperfections.
> Deputy executive editor Soo Ewe Jin is thinking of how the hills can come alive with the sound of music, as he heads to Fraser's Hill for a break over the weekend.
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