After the car accident in late February that left me with a concussion, I had to focus on my own health. I have never in my life been so self-centred and self-involved. And I had to be. I don’t regret it. At times, doing anything other than listening to podcasts and mindlessly knitting set me back in the recovery process.
But as my brain came more and more out of the fog, I became incredibly self-conscious of how selfish I’d been.
Helping others is a big part of who I am. It gets me out of my own head and makes me feel like I’m contributing positively to the world, even when I’m too anxious to leave my home. Through Cockroach’s Stitching Hearts project–which I created and continue to run–I can even do creative things that I have a lot of fun with, which benefits me as well as others.
And just the act of doing something kind for someone else makes me feel less anxious and depressed.
A recent article by Amy Ellis Nutt, she writes about a study that showed anxious college students avoided social situations less when they consciously committed several acts of kindness per week.
In my weekly newsletter, I’ve been challenging people to strive to change one thing in their life each month (drink more water, eat more produce, connect with friends). In the next few months, I’ll be challenging everyone to find a few more ways to spread love. Join my list now to get weekly motivations for creatives who struggle with their mental health and to get in on the challenge.
Or join my Stitching Hearts group on Facebook where I’ll share the latest info about the helpful projects we’re working on, and offer support and inspiration to other members.
I’m a little beat this week because people can be really fucking mean. Here’s my guide to being a decent human being on the most basic level.
- If someone says something you’re doing is making them uncomfortable, just stop.
- Someone’s upset you? Tell them what the problem is and talk it out. We’re adults. An entire relationship doesn’t need to be dropped because you’re afraid of talking about feelings. If they’re not going to respect those feelings, by all means walk away. But to walk away because someone hurt your feelings by not showing up to an event is ridiculous.
- Don’t say anything about a person that you wouldn’t say to their face. Chances are they’re going to hear what you’ve said, or at least get the feeling you’re talking shit about them, and it’s just you who’s going to look like the asshole.
In the words of my wise co-worker, Thomas Pashko, “It’s really easy to not be a violent asshole, and yet some people still feel the need to.” That statement rings true to me even if you take the “violent” out.
Being a nice human being does take a bit of extra work, but it’s still not that hard.
- Help others out. Through Cockroach’s Stitching Hearts projects, it doesn’t take much time, money or effort. Even go through life with some Dollarama snacks to hand out to folks who are hungry, whether that’s co-workers or people on the street.
- Send a supportive message to someone who’s struggling, without demanding anything of them in return.
- Make the world prettier by picking up garbage and leaving gifts for strangers in random places.
I’m heading back to Montana where no one really knows me so at least folks can only be assholes to me online.
Photo by Beverley Goodwin.