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Mental Health & Kindness

In a world where we are encouraged to look after ourselves, to be number one, where success is often defined as how famous you are or how much money you have, surely in the most resourceful time in history, we should also be the happiest we have ever been?

There are nearly 50 million, millionaires in the world, and over 2000 billionaires. Jeff Bezos is currently worth nearly $150 billion alone. Almost everyone who reads this will have attended one of the highest standards of education in the world, will have access to financial support from the government, access to cutting edge health care, be able to contact friends and family wherever they are in the world at any time and will have arguably the most powerful tool ever created by man at the fingertips, the internet. People have the ability to access almost every piece of information ever known. To create themselves into anything they want to be. To learn more of what they need to have a successful life, and to be happier.

And yet, for some, this often feels the furthest things from the truth.

How many of us start the day by looking at our phones? And how many of us start by looking at a social media site? Why do we do this? Well, simply put, our brains are hungry. They love to be given some of their favourite snacks, dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin. Social media Is filled with information about people. And we are social creatures, we love to be involved in other’s lives and others in ours. And when we are, our brains release a lovely cocktail of hormones. It feels good.

Who doesn’t love to see someone “like” a post, or share a photo you have posted. Our brains release that cocktail, and it genuinely feels good. Like all good things, when we have something a lot, we become used to it, and the same amount no longer feels as good, so we want more. We no longer need 1 “like”, we need 10 likes, then we need 100 likes and so on. I have known people to remove posts because it didn’t get as many likes as they expected. And they felt awful. Sound familiar?

 

I’m sure you know someone who will then spend a large amount of the day consuming media. Scrolling down and down the endless posts reel. Just waiting for something new and unique to release that cocktail of hormones. We chase the happiness. It’s always just one more scroll away.

In my own life, and talking to others, I realised around two years ago, it’s the need to be entertained that drives a lot of actions. I don’t think entertainment is really a human need, but it certainly feels like it at times. And there is nothing wrong with being entertained, having our brains release those chemicals. But we often seek it through self-absorbed means that are focused on consumption rather than creation.

And here in lies one of the paths to escape that cycle. Creation. Growth. Contribution. Kindness. For others. To truly receive the joy we are all after in life, without the side affects of low self-esteem, low self-worth and continual comparison to others lives, we need to get out there and contribute to others. Especially those less fortunate than ourselves. People who gave to others as a regular part of their lives were happier, had more energy and lived longer. They didn’t feel like they just existed. It doesn’t have to be big. Even a smile to another person has been shown to release positive emotions in both the person smiling and the receiver.

If you are reading this and thinking, “I want to, but I can’t bring myself to do it”, you are not alone. We often know what we can do but feel like we are stuck in quicksand not able to get out. This is where we need support from someone. A helping hand to get us out. Tell someone, even a stranger. If you want to try something out, just on your own, try running on the spot as fast as you can with a smile on your face. It doesn’t even have to be a real smile. Sometimes the action of changing your body, can change how we feel inside, even if just a little bit. If I’m feeling low, I often just jump up and down (I’m not kidding), and it really does help me shift my feelings. Silly, yes! But it works for me!

If you are reading this and know someone in that position, I encourage you to stick out your hand and help them out.

If you do offer a listening ear to someone struggling, try to remain empathic. Listen to their perspective, remain out of judgment, listen to their feelings and reflect that back. Try not to deny their feelings, give advice, or say “at least” and silver line their situation. If you want to ask questions, I suggest avoiding any “why” questions. And listen, and then listen some more. Listen with the intent to understand, not reply.

Good luck and be kind.