In these strangest of times, we’re being encouraged to keep our physical distance, but let’s reduce our emotional distance. Pick up the phone, send a text, use Facetime, WhatsApp or Skype. Be there for family, friends, co-workers, neighbours, others in your community, if you can.
The brain, in many ways, doesn’t distinguish real from imaginary. Take a simple example of stress. Your brain responds to a stressful situation by releasing stress hormones. But your brain also releases the stress hormones when you remember a past stressful event or even when you vividly imagine one.
I remember waiting in line a coffee shop once, and a woman drove over my foot on a mobility scooter. She didn’t look back to apologise. At the time I did have a thought that a person would usually have said sorry, but I let it go because, well, you never know.
I have written a lot about side effects of kindness, that when you give you also receive. Sometimes receiving can be in the form of acts of kindness done for you, or of seemingly random blessings showing up in your life, but they also come in the form of physiological effects.
Look at grass. We say it is green. But it’s not inherently green. It’s green for us because we have 3 photoreceptors in our eyes that are sensitive to specific wavelengths of light. If we had different photoreceptors, grass would appear different.
I spent a day earlier in the week at a primary school where I was talking to young children about the importance of kindness. It was a school outside Glasgow, Scotland, on the invitation of my friend, John – aka Mr McLellan. The school has a dedicated ASD unit.