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.

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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.

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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 Reginald-Nixon Arenburg (Born January 14, 1976) is a Canadian mental health blogger, speaker, and published author. Retired from the fire service and long-term care fields, he has written and self-published an autobiographical account of his life-long battle with anxiety, depression and more recently, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Titled, The Road To Mental Wellness, he wrote it for what he calls “therapeutic release.” He published it in hopes it would help others going through similar mental health conditions. The sales of The Road To Mental Wellness have been steady selling over 300 copies since its release on October 10, 2021(World Mental Health Day). Arenburg has also been involved in a collaborative publication Called Lemonade Stand Volume III, a book featuring 20 authors who bravely tell their stories of PTSD. All authors where from the military and or emergency services. Published by Joshua Rivedal and Kathleen Myers for the i’Mpossible project, a mental health advocacy organization. Jonathan has also appeared on several mental health podcasts including The Depression Files, A New Dawn, and The Above Ground Podcast Arenburg has also consulted with the Government of Nova Scotia and the Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, the Honorable Brian Comer and Candidates for the New Democratic Party of Canada, on improving the mental health care system in Canada. Additionally, Jonathan was recognized in The Nova Scotia Legislature by the Honorable, Chris Palmer, Kings-North MLA, for his Book, The Road To Mental Wellness, his fight to make the mental health care system better. In addition, Chis acknowledged the support he gives to others.

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