Kindness is only taking a backseat

Is it me or does it feel like kindness is dying? What’s behind this national dread we are experiencing? Maybe kindness is only taking a back seat.

Jonathan Arenburg
Jonathan Arenburg

Jonathan is a mental health blogger, published author, and speaker. He has appeared in numerous newspapers and has been a guest on many podcasts.

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Is it me or is society-at-large moving up the ladder of neuroticism? I could be wrong, but I still can’t help but feel it may be true. However, as a man of science, I’d rather have data that backs up my hypothesis, not just say it’s so.

With that said, I haven’t been able to find any really good data out there. By that, I mean looking at actual science. Yet despite this, I feel as if the compassion, at least at large, is slowly being deprioritized. Notice I didn’t say “melted away” or “being eroded”? Why? Well, because I don’t believe that’s what’s going on.

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What makes me feel like kindness is only taking a back seat as opposed to being destroyed, lies within the very route that is making it feel like it’s being obliterated – individualism. There is a real difference between prioritizing oneself as an individual and an individual’s act of kindness.

Here, let me explain. Firstly, it’s important to realize that self-care is not an unhealthy form of prioritizing oneself. In fact, it is needed because in this case, people usually need to stop and take a break because they give themselves too much to others. However, when one constantly prioritizes themselves over what’s best for others is what I am referring to.

Whereas, individual acts of kindness are when people give of themselves to help their friends, their neighbors, and their communities.

How you can make a difference in your community.

Now, I bet you are saying to yourself: “But John, how does this tie into mental health? Well, simple, really. For instance, are you feeling an inexplicable sadness and a feeling of dread, and that society is going crazy? Or do you have anxiety around how uncaring the world seems to be getting? If so, this will inevitably impact your mental wellbeing.

Further, I feel like many of us are in self-preservation mode from the constant barrage of toxicity produced by social media and news outlets. I can’t see how an entire nation of individuals trying to save themselves from the events of today can be good for all of us – can you?

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In other words, we are in a sort of negative-feedback loop, or algorithm if you will. I look out for me, so do you and so do millions more. I sense that this only feeds the collective sense of dread. This “safe mode” is not healthy and in my view, moves us away from what’s best for everyone and closer to what’s best for me. I ask you: how can this be good for our mental health?

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With all that said, don’t despair, for many of us on individual levels are doing our best to make a real difference. A good example of this is someone you barely know offering you a ride when your car is in the shop, which is exactly what happened to me last week. A few friends had offered me a quiet place to write, a room in their home or cottage etc. People one-on-one are amazing.

So, in conclusion, if you use your authentic self to help others, those around you notice and what’s more, they legitimately care about your well-being. Essentially, kindness, like toxicity, comes back to you and will either ease your mental pain or make it worse. Let’s be kind, grateful, and pay it forward.

Jonathan Arenburg

Jonathan Arenburg is a mental health blogger, S speaker, writer, and published author; He is also the host of the mental wellness podcast, #thewellnesstalksHe has also appeared in the i'Mpossible's Lemonade Stand III. He has also been a contributing writer for Mental health talk, a column in his local paper. In addition, he has also written for the mental health advocacy organization; Sick Not Weak.Jonathan has also appeared on several mental health-related podcasts Including: A New Dawn, The Depression Files, Books and Authors, and Men Are Nuts. Since being put off work because of PTSD, Jonathan has dedicated his time to his mental wellness journey while helping others along the way.Educated as an addictions' counsellor, he has dedicated most of his professional life of eighteen years, working with those who have intellectual disabilities, behavioural challenges, and mental illness.He has also spent fifteen years in the volunteer fire service helping his community.His new book (2021), “The Road To Mental Wellness,” goes into detail about his life-long battle with depression, anxiety and more recently, PTSD. In it, he hopes to provide insight on how mental illness cultivates over a lifetime and, if not recognized and treated, how it impacts the entirety of one's life; right from childhood into the adult years. Jonathan lives with his two children in Nova Scotia, Canada.

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