Intimate acts of kindness

The Road To Mental Wellness > Mental Health > Intimate acts of kindness

Intimate acts of kindness. Do you want to help the world but are too overwhelmed? Here, I suggest ways you can help.

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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Do you ever check in on your friends and family? You know, just to see where they are at emotionally and mentally? Personally, this is something I do often, especially after Covid. We live in a world where leaning on one another is more important than ever.

In my travels, whether near or far, many ask me this: “What can I do to make the world a better place?” While not an easy question to answer, I have nonetheless, come up with at least a satisfactory response.

We may be living in a time where self-preservation has become the norm in society; however, I don’t believe we all want the world to suffer. So thankfully, people have an inclination to help others – it’s hard-wired.

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While this is true, equally true is our innate need for survival. Therefore, or so I think, things have to get pretty bad for many to help others. Now, this is certainly not the case for everyone, as there are tons of people selflessly giving all over the world. It simply means, if one hasn’t experienced a lot of hardship, self-preservation mode becomes the default.

Alternatively, when we feel a loss of control or feel so overwhelmed, we tend to turn inward. These feelings also trigger our self-preservation mode.

So then, my answer that I think will help you help others, while at the same time, help your mental health, is the following:

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What if I told you that it’s one-on-one, intimate acts of kindness that make the world a better place? Similarly, what if you’re thinking too big; that your ideas of making a difference are too grandiose?

Yes, it’s true, the little acts of kindness really do make a difference. Want proof? Let me tell you a story of kindness that changed my life forever.

A lasting impact.

I remember the moment my life was changed forever; a moment that proved to me that the world we live in is still teeming with great people.

It all started with a mid-morning phone call from an amazing friend. My memory of that morning is as clear as the Caribbean waters. For instance, I remember it being mid-May, sun shining and the grass so green, it looked Photoshopped. However, this was just nature at the peak of its beauty.

My mood, however, did not coincide with the natural beauty of nature. In fact, my inner nature was such, that the world I knew was dark and smothered in fog. Little did I know when I plopped my feet onto the floor for the first time that day, that my spirit would, eventually, feel beautiful.

See, just two days before, I come to see that my dark blue, Chevy minivan was not fit for the road. The once-dependable ride had given me all she had, but finally the frame fatigued to the point where its last road trip would be on the back of a wrecker.

Between the memories I had forged with my kids and being too broke to replace it, my reality hit me hard. “How am I ever going to replace my van”? Easy, I thought – I can’t. It was devastating.

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On this amazingly bright spring day, I was getting ready for a run. In an attempt to quell my depressive state, I thought, “I really need a dose of Mother Nature’s medication – exercise. Far from psyched, I literally had my hand on the doorknob when my mid-2000’s BlackBerry started to ring.

Intimate acts of kindness. Do you want to help the world but are too overwhelmed? Here, I suggest ways you can help.

Looking at the now ancient display, I saw that it was one of my fire-service buddies. I had told him just the night before about my van. His response was, “I’ll keep my eyes open for something.”

To which I replied, “Thanks, but I can’t afford another, so don’t waste your time.”

Behaviour and Personality.

Obviously, he was undeterred by my broken response, because the first thing that came out of the phone’s speaker was, not “hello,” “hey” or “what’s up” ; it was:

“Are you looking for a car?”

“No, I can’t afford one,” was my response.

“Well,” he responded, “There’s a 97, Chevy Malibu, here where I am working, for sale. Do you want it.”

I said, with a bit of an annoyed overtone, “Yes, but as I said, I can’t afford a car.”

His reply was lounder and insistent. “Do you want it?”

“Yes, but I have no money.” I responded with the same pitch and volume.

“What if I buy it, and you paid me back when you can?”

“Thanks man,” I said, starting to feel the love from the other end of the line. “I really don’t know how I would ever pay you back, though.”

“Okay, here’s what I am going to do, I’m going to try and beat down the guy’s price and I will call you back.”

I simply responded with an “okay”

“Okay, bye!” (click)

The definition of kindness.

Being the ever-reliable person that he was, that afternoon he phoned me back.

With a somewhat annoyed tone, he said, “I managed to beat the guy down quite a bit, but he won’t go down as far as I want him to. “

With an almost emotionless tone, my response was ” Okay, well thanks for trying. “

“Hold on!” he said quickly. ” He agreed to my price after I agreed to work off the remaining balance that he wanted.”

I was dumbfounded. This man, a fella of five kids and the only breadwinner, was willing to sacrifice hard-earned income for me? I was speechless for a moment.

However, I did manage to squeak out, “Man, you don’t have to do that for me, you’re barely making it yourself.”

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As usual, his blunt and sharp tongue response tumbled out of him: ” John! You need something to get around, to get to work, to spend time with your children. You can pay me back anytime. I will bring the car down tomorrow.” .

“Well!” I said to myself, ” I guess I have little say in the matter.”

Defeated by his generosity and insistence, I relented and replied, “Thank you so much! I don’t know how to begin to thank you, but I will pay you back.”

It was then he displayed his typical go-to response in matters of the heart. A reply with one simple word: “Whatever!” Then, the line fell silent.

A defining moment.

I learned one of the most important lessons I have ever learned in my life. Within the words of our back-and-forth over the phone, my faith in humanity had been restored.

And from there, I decided that, while it’s true there is certainly a lot of hate in the world, there’s certainly an equal amount of love too.

While my man pride was screaming “No, no, no!” to his generosity, I decided to do the opposite of what it was telling me. I decided to fully embrace his generosity.

Man, I never realized just how caged my soul was, how guarded and suspicious of the world I had become. For me, there was no question that I was bitter and cynical.

Amazingly however, in this one moment, with this one amazing act of kindness, I was set free. And in that moment, I decided that this now-freed spirit, would seek to pay my good fortune forward to others.

And despite my battles with post-traumatic stress disorder, major depression, and an anxiety disorder to boot, I have made my mission since that beautiful spring day.

Small ways to make the world a better place.

As far as I’m concerned, nothing illustrates my commitment to making the world better, thean the release of my book, The Road To Mental Wellness.

From my perspective, there is no better way to both help others. A book can, for instance, resonate with the reader, while at the same time reaching a huge audience.

Front and back cover of the road to mental wellness - 8 sings your relationship is hurting your mental health.
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In other words, it becomes an intimate experience for individuals while simultaneously making a difference in the hands of many.

Amazingly, this is a fact that I never quite thought of before until I completed the laborious task of writing, editing, and publishing a book.

The results? They have been very helpful for the readers and very humbling for me. Read the reviews here

So, my book has touched people’s lives in different countries around the world. I can’t think of a better way to make the world a better place.

Other than of course, those one-on-one, intimate acts of kindness. Nothing better for the soul.

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Don’t fret, your gestures of kindness don’t have to be monumental, they simply have to be impactful. So, get out there and help your fellow human beings, one person at a time. Intimate acts of kindness are great for your mental health.

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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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