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.
I broke my wee toe about three weeks ago. I have such a dangerous job – I was preparing to give a talk, walking around my office speaking aloud as I refined how I was going to describe one particular topic, and I hit my toe on the radiator.
Everybody knows what stress feels like. We also know what it feels like when we’re kind, when someone is kind to us, or even when we witness kindness. The feelings are opposite. Most of the effects inside the body are the opposite too.
I recently chatted with a girl who has had rheumatoid arthritis since she was a child. Now in her late 20s, she’s taken painkillers for years. When she was first diagnosed, a nurse instructed her to imagine her painkillers travelling to her joints and then dissolving into little particles and spreading out over the joints, soothing them and reducing swelling and pain.
I’ve written a lot about the links between kindness and ageing, and part of my focus has been that kindness is the opposite of stress, at least in terms of how it makes us feel and the physiological consequences of those feelings.
Are we wired to be kind? Absolutely! Although I think some would disagree. It seems that the business model that’s operated for the past hundred years or so has been based on ‘survival of the fittest’, with the idea that humans are inherently selfish.