We featured Nikki’s playful and fun Connected painting last month. We plan to feature her A-Z of Self-Care with Swiss & South specifically in mind.
A is for Altruism. Life is better when we live with concern for others and choose to be helpful. In the act of giving we distract ourselves from personal problems and encourage physiological brain changes linked to happiness. Doing something for nothing is thought to increase emotional well-being and reduce stress as we gain perspective in selfless actions. The rush that good deed-doers often experience is known as the “helper’s high.”
From the start of the UK’s first lockdown – an uncertain time of restriction and anxiety – the overwhelming response was people looking out for each other. Volunteering was common, we got more neighbourly, strangers passed me smiles on the streets and we remembered and applauded key workers. Many of us rediscovered our communities, supported local businesses and checked in more regularly with our families. We were reminded how much we need each other and compassion and consideration became key to coping.
I too got on that wave of being mindful of others because I had more free time and realised how I could pitch in. I gave to a food bank, offered life coaching sessions for free and learnt the names of all the staff at my local café where I got takeaway cappuccinos and they in turn gave me a feeling of belonging. I know my kindness served me because in my generous moments I forgot about what I was missing. Also I received kindness from others as if what goes around comes around. A friend would spontaneously cycle to my building to chat with me, a neighbour whom I met online lent me nearly-new jigsaw puzzles and I had uplifting conversations with strangers whom I came across when out walking, or waiting in queues like at Swiss Cottage Post Office.
I’m sure there are selfish and miserly people who receive love and support and experience success in aspects of their lives even as they have relationships based on how people can oblige them. Yet unkind types will be familiar with the anger and fear that is seeded in self-centredness and possibly do not know how life is sweetened by those true friendships which enable us to trust and feel secure. Mohammed Ali once said, “your service to others is the rent you pay for being on this earth.” Whether you’re just encouraging somebody that you know, or giving time and energy to better a stranger’s life, by heart-led actions you give yourself hope and in doing good we feel good.
You can email Nicola here.