Happiness tied to ‘connection, not collection’

They say that you never know what someone is going through, so you should always be kind. Given the recent World Suicide Prevention Day, I feel like basic kindness is a good place to start, including with ourselves. That said, if you asked me if kind is the first adjective that I’d like me or my teens to be known by, I’d pick bold over kind.

There is so much pain and suffering in the world, and so many of us don’t let on that anything is wrong. It’s important to give people the benefit of the doubt and react to them without malice at worst and with kindness at best. Some of us are dealing with health issues, heartache, financial woes, betrayal, or any number of professional or personal missteps. Even if we’re not the ones suffering, one or two degrees of separation from the epicentre can be enough to still have us in the emotional wake.

More of us than ever are one straw away from the camel’s back being broken. The isolation from a two week turned two year pandemic didn’t help. Can we be bold enough to address the world’s and our own pain points?

Happiness indices peaked in the fifties when we were converted by our governments into consumers instead of citizens. Since then, our role is to keep the economy going, so the messaging is: “Feeling down? Buy something, it will make you feel better.” Only it doesn’t for more than a moment or two.

Happiness is tied to connection not collection. We need bonds with friends and family and the planet. That’s probably why so many of us jumped on social media when it started, because it was supposed to help us stay more connected, or at least that’s the Kool-Aid that we drank.

Now we know differently, that social media has further eroded happiness levels as the world competes in a game of keeping up with or besting the digital Joneses. Teens are suffering the most under the pressure to conform and their levels of depression and anxiety is linked directly to social media use. Limiting social media, reflecting on how it makes us feel, to completely log off from it. Sadly, the fear of missing out keeps most of us linked in (pun intended).

It’s a terrible feeling, being uncomfortable in your own skin, which is part of the evil of fashion magazines and social media. We also feel “not enough” when we don’t have enough self-compassion.

When it is us suffering, we have the onus not to drag anyone else down, but for me the more difficult part is the kindness to myself. Self-loathing, self-doubt, guilt, insecurities, shame, and blame all come into play. Why is it easier to show compassion for others than for ourselves? Do we not think we deserve it? Why not?

Kindness for others and ourselves is critical to our wellbeing. Why let someone’s bad mood affect our day. Give them the benefit of the doubt and shrug it off. That said, I’d prefer a different moniker for myself and those I love than being “kind.” There are too many people out there that will take advantage of kindness, and it’s important not to fall prey. Being bold enough to try and address the problems of the world, have self compassion for ourselves and others, while chasing our dreams is more important than basic “kindness.” And frankly, sometimes it is a bold act to be kind to others.

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