The Power of Kind Words
Yesterday was #WorldMentalHealthDay as you already know. I’ve always wanted the day to not exist, as weird as that might sound. See, we don’t have a Physical Health Day because we all know the importance of physical health. It’s an ingrained knowledge we all have. I want Mental Health to have the same status. I want us to know so clearly about how important mental health is that we don’t require a day, a m week, a month, to highlight its importance. We’ll get there at some stage no doubt.
Yesterday, to mark the day I made a small gesture to whoever needed it. I sent out a tweet saying that if a person liked the tweet then I would reply underneath with something about that person which I admire. A trait or characteristic about them that I like. It’s an easy thing to do, to pick out one thing about someone that you like.
There were two main things I hadn’t expected. Firstly, I didn’t expect so many people to want to hear me say something nice about them. Good or bad, it’s quite a personal interaction and may not be for everyone. Secondly though, I wasn’t expecting the affect it would have on me personally, and on those people who I was replying to.
Altruism is the act of doing something for someone without getting anything back. It’s a fundamental tenet for how we developed as a society in evolutionary terms. However, I don’t actually think altruism exists. I think you always get something back. Telling people what I admired about them yesterday made them feel good, which in turn made me feel good. Going out of my way to be kind to people in a few sentences made me feel extraordinary. I was happy all day because I knew my small gestures were impacting the mental health of others, and that felt fantastic.
We all know this of course, but I think in the modern era of anger and self-centeredness, and general individualism, we can forget the benefits that can come from giving other people a lift. Doing something to help another person always makes us feel better. It’s most of the reason I write this blog, because knowing I might have helped someone makes me feel good.
It’s worth remembering. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that helping to make other people’s mental health better in turn improves our own mental health. It suggests that mental health is a collaborative effort rather than an individual endeavour. In that sense, we can be as selfish as we like. Help as many people as you possibly can in order to reap the benefits of improving the lives of others. That’s a ‘selfish’ act that I fully endorse.