Rubberband Bracelets and Other Currency

October 15, 2013

friendship bracelets

Remember friendship bracelets, the original staple of summer camp? And your best friend who whipped them up at home for a chosen few. 'What's your favorite color? Your second favorite?' There was something happening here, something much bigger than bracelets. If you weren't collecting them at recess, on the bus or after school, you were worried that said something about you. Were you friendship bracelet material? Would you need to dream up ways to get your own operation off the ground?

They were the currency of friendship - and courtship - and you were lining your wrists and your proverbial wallet.

And so, we were part sentimental, part skeptical when our own kids started asking for rubber band bracelet-making kits. Have you seen them? They're on TV, in stores and basically everywhere. We've watched as our kids worked the loom like mad spiders. And then, we watched what happened next.

little girl sharing

Our kids came home from school with new ones lining their wrists or they were missing the ones they had made this morning. And there were always stories that went with the bracelets, new or missing.

"I got this one in the lunchroom from Dylan and he told me he was going to make me another one."

"I broke this one accidentally on the playground, so Piper told me her brother would make me a new one."

"You want one of mine?"

What was happening here? They were doing what we'd told them to do 3,547,622 times - they were sharing. This group of children who grew up more connected to the world around them than we ever were was realizing that there was a win/win to sharing. There was connection and understanding and community in sharing. And far less drama than we expected.

According to a recent Wikia study, Generation Z, even more than the Ys or millennials that came before them, are more comfortable and more motivated to share. A full 60% of Gen Zers say they like to share their knowledge with others online. Does this translate to rubberband bracelets . . . or Cheez Doodles, you think?

Has this Share Mentality led to less of what Stephen Covey described as the Scarcity Mentality, an idea that there are only so many resources out there and when one person gets something that means you probably won't?

"People with Scarcity Mentality have a very difficult time sharing recognition and credit, power or profit, even with those who help in production. They also have a very hard time being genuinely happy for the successes of other people . . . their sense of worth comes from being compared, and someone else's success, to some degree, means their failure."

little boys talking

The Abundance Mentality, the alter ego to Scarcity, proposes the win/win theory. The idea that sharing is mutually beneficial. We are better together and happier together. According to Franklin Covey Canada:

"Abundance Mentality flows out of a deep inner sense of personal worth and security. It is the paradigm that there is plenty out there and enough to spare for everybody. It results in the sharing of prestige, recognition, profits, decision making . . . It takes personal joy, satisfaction and fulfillment and turns it outward."

Maybe we've done something right because they seem to have a sense of self worth that allows for them to take joy in another's happiness and good fortune. There is a certain resilience and optimism and humility in that. And we take personal joy in seeing this transformation. Do our kids share like Mother Theresa? No. Do they sometimes keep the best bracelets for themselves, compare their wrists to others, and turn it into a competition? Yes. But we see an attitude of abundance and sharing and connection, too and we're a little dazzled by it all.

Is giving really more fun than receiving? Seems our kids may have something to teach us.

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