By chinmayi, May 21 2020 10:42AM
Kindness is a theme that has been very much at the forefront during our current Mental Health Awareness Week, and with good reason. It seems that in our current situation, more than ever, acts of generosity and kindness have come into focus. In times of difficulty, we need to balance the challenges we are facing with some positivity.
Actions that people take to diminish the suffering of others will always be seen as noble and inspiring. The outpouring of love towards Captain Tom, with his courageous and determined NHS fundraising challenge is just one example. I am sure you will know of others, in your own community or even closer to home.
So what is going on, inside us all that we fell complelled, even more strongly, in times of adversity to reach out to others with kindness? Scientists tell us that when we are stressed our hormone levels change. One of the hormones which increases under stress is Oxytocin (aka the cuddle hormone). It makes sense from a survival point of view that in challenging times we would need more conscious connection, support, bonding and love. But if our usual sources of support are unavailable, some of our tribe are out of bounds for now, we will naturally start to reach out to others. And this is really good for our mental health.
In the ancient teachings of yoga, it tells us that if we want to be happy and peaceful, we would do well to give up any hint of being selfish. Why would the ancient sages, who had achieved lasting peace, tell us this? The teaching explains that any selfish thought we have, will ultimately cause pain, either to ourself or to someone else. If not now, then later. So when we choose to be kind, to go out of our way to support others, to think about them first, it has the natural effect of stopping us from thinking about ourselves and our own problems, even if just for a moment. So thinking about the needs of others, how we can be of use to our fellow humans on this planet, is actually good for us too.
We can all benefit from more peace, more love, more kindness and if you want to do just one thing for your own mental health today, try doing something nice for someone. One more random act of kindness will not do us any harm … and you never know, it might just make us feel good.