You see them everywhere… t-shirts proclaiming “In a world where you can be anything…be kind.”
Does that make you roll your eyes? Or does it affirm to you to focus on the way of living that can help us all get through these difficult times? Because in times like these, with upheaval, disruption from a pandemic, and hurting people everywhere, there is a shortage of generosity, support, understanding. So be kind and compassionate to everyone you meet, show gratitude for the little things, and you may find the struggles shrinking and becoming more manageable.
Kindness makes some people shy away. They don’t like the word. Makes them feel weak. But kindness is actually rooted in courage—the courage to do the right thing—and in strength to keep doing it even if your kindness is not acknowledged
Did you grow up in a kind household — or one where you felt undervalued and roughly handled…? It matters, you know. When you never see kindness, it’s not so easy to create it yourself, is it?
And yet, ask yourself: If you were surrounded by kindness, kind words, kind actions, and kind support, do you think you’d find that annoying…or would you possibly begin to bask in the safety and nourishing of it…? The fact is: we all need people in our lives to be kind and compassionate, and when they aren’t… we find ourselves lugging around a burden of isolation and neglect.
Healthcare Workers Give All They Have to Give
The world is in turmoil, and it doesn’t feel all that safe these days, but you do have the power to change it. One kind act at a time.
Isn’t it amazing how hard it is for humans to experience change? I heard someone complain that he liked to travel, and the forced quarantine was really causing him to chafe.
In his case, he wasn’t sick, wasn’t laid off, wasn’t struggling financially …but there was a mountain of inconvenient changes in his plans. A nice guy, a wonderful person…. but enforced changes were pressing on his comfort and stirring up…what? Impatience? Irritation? Annoyance?
So we have a world in turmoil, and it is forcing us to change our normal way of living. Some are suffering severely right now, and they need us to care, to listen, to show patience. You don’t know who they are — with a few exceptions, maybe, in your circle — but that’s why you need to be kind and compassionate with everyone because it’s the best response to those you don’t know.
Healthcare workers in hospitals, for instance, infected patients fighting for their lives, or the families of those who have lost the fight. These brave and heartbroken ones need your kindness and support most of all.
When you’re impatient because someone is standing at the checkout at the store too long…and you’re tempted to start throwing up your hands and saying, Move Along, Already!!
Take a breath. She might have spent the last 14 hours with a mask on trying to save a patient’s life…only to watch him die. Be KIND.
Job Loss and Income Reduction Is a Part of Life Right Now…
Then there are those who suffer because of job loss, lack of sufficient income, and scads of difficulties caused by it. They need kindness and support, too.
The Guy At the ATM Who Keeps Sticking in His Card
…and you wait and wait.
It could be that the last funds are gone from his account because of his reduced income…and he’s trying to find a credit card to borrow from.
Have compassion…he’s in a serious crisis. Because his family needs food, gas, and diapers.
Remember to Care.
But there are millions of us who are frustrated by the changes in our routine, changes in our access to stores and restaurants, changes in our lifestyles. Changes.
Be kind and compassionate because you need others to be kind and compassionate with you.
You can allow those changes to give you permission (or an EXCUSE) to treat others badly, or you can use those changes as fuel to empower you to lift the outlook of the people around you.
So what can you do to ensure you have more kindness to give to others?
Start, by nurturing yourself. Do things for yourself that improve your own sense of fulfillment, your own stores of patience. Soothe away the day’s tensions in a hot shower or go all out in a hot bath. Go fishing and listen to the quiet sounds of nature. Spend time with someone who is important to you…
It’s true that it’s terribly hard to offer patience, kindness, understanding when your own mind is raw with tensions, burdens, and mistreatment. So DO SOMETHING everyday that’s just for you.
Then, when you mess up, make mistakes, even bad ones, give yourself patience, kindness, and forgiveness. Because it’s in practicing kindness toward yourself that you learn to cultivate kindness and patience toward others.
Unhappy people often rail on themselves when they make mistakes, or fail in some way …. but truly, in order to be kind to others, you need to show yourself abundant kindness. (Abundant kindness, you’re thinking. What is that, even?)
In a World Where You Can Be Anything, Be Kind.
If you’re the first to respond to someone’s struggle, start with compassion. Show you care. Then, as you provide support, do it with kindness and patience.
And you know what??
To be kind and compassionate yourself brings more happiness to you…and to them.
Have you heard of a “WIIFM”? …. No..? So what’s a WIIFM? It’s finding out “What’s in it for me???”
When you are already happy, doing kindness for others, showing patience, doing something that adds to someone else’s happiness… these things make you happier too!
This very idea was confirmed in a study by a team social researchers led by Keiko Otake. Their results showed that when happy people actually count the number of times each day they show kindness, it makes them even happier. In addition, they found that showing kindness increases their own sense of gratitude in the simple things of life.
During this disruptive time, finding joy in simple things, and expressing gratitude for them, can be a path to peace and increasing joy in spite of circumstances. And it can be contagious.
Delivering kindness to those in your circle can spread gratitude and joy to them, who in turn may offer more kindness to their own circle. At the same time, offering generosity and kindness stokes the fires of happiness within you, too. So crank up happiness …be kind and compassionate every day. All day.
It will transform you.
And What If You’re Just Tired of the Struggle? What if You Can’t Muster Joy, Patience, or Even the Power to Care?
Sometimes the prolonged stressors of times like this can wear down your resilience. Sometimes, no matter how deep you dig within yourself, you can find no joy, no hope, no energy to cope with anything.
And sometimes, if you live with depression, if you’ve been bruised by trauma, not even your antidepressants can help anymore. In spite of your medications, listlessness takes you over.
When that happens, you can reach out for ketamine treatment.
Stress prunes the dendrites and dendritic spines that build the synapses in your brain. Those connections between the brain cells that communicate and help signals travel with speed and abundance. They become broken down, sparse, weakened.
But since ketamine turns on mRNA and switches the DNA to “ON” to produce brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), all that new BDNF turbo boosts the replenishment of these connections, and triggers a cascade of changes. The result — for many people, though not all — is a rapid and robust improvement in your outlook, your hope, your energy for challenges, your motivation and initiative… and you can feel tremendously better. Like renewed. Pretty much well.
It can be extraordinary. Life changing.
Then, keep building that wellbeing with kindness, warmth, generosity…giving your best to lift and support those in your path.
While none of us knows how long the precautions and ups and downs of the pandemic will last, you can reach out for the help to be who you want to be, for yourself and everyone around you.
You don’t have to be dragged down by the stressors of this pandemic. You can rise higher than the challenges, and sprinkle kindness in your wake.
We’re here to help if you need us.
To the restoration of your best self,
Lori Calabrese, M.D.