How are you and have you had a good week?
This blog post is the most personal yet. The topic is still raw for me but I decided I want to share the details because of the impact it has had on my energy and happiness levels. But to some extent, also because life isn’t perfect, we aren’t always happy and no one can keep all the balls in the air at any one time.
Over the last 4 months I’ve gone through a lot of waiting, consultations and tests, and have just been diagnosed with Temporal Lobe Epilepsy. It would be fair to say it has come as a huge blow to me and I’ve found this week really difficult.
I’d had “episodes” on and off for a while but this year’s difficulties meant they flared up strongly. I lost a member of my family in the spring to a stroke which was unexpected and a huge, painful shock to all of us. My boyfriend’s behaviour for a long time leading up to and surrounding that time caused me a lot of confusion and stress and led to us splitting which hurt me badly. It affected my eating and sleep and I guess our bodies and minds can only manage so far before they show signs of stress. I did my best to grieve for my uncle and to fall out of love and come to terms with the person my boyfriend had become (alongside my job and normal life) but it was too much I think and I had an unusually strong “episode” (of deja-vu type experiences) after which I blacked out. Two consultations and an EEG later, the diagnosis bomb dropped!
I’ve already started on medication and I understand much more now about what to expect and how to manage it. So in my mind, I know I’ll be okay. Emotionally, I’m somewhere completely different. What is interesting for this blog specifically though, is the effect on my energy this week. My mood dropped pretty low and getting through work was difficult. I want to cry all the time and the effect of this emotional tornado has left me absolutely exhausted. I’m going to bed earlier and earlier but still, I’m so tired.
Suddenly that 70% statistic feels real.
The idea of this post isn’t to make you all feel shit! But I realised I have yet more first hand proof of energy and happiness having different sources and different ways of being spent. It means that what I’ve been reading and learning so far IS REAL.
So this is maybe the perfect time to try out a new way of gaining energy right?
One thing that has repeatedly come up is kindness and the idea of it having a ripple effect on everyone who receives it. Worthy of its own blog post entirely is the importance of being kind to yourself and self-compassion. But for now, I’ve been trying to find out more about how kindness to others actually benefits us as well as them.
Psychological research has shown that being kind to other people activates the striatum; an area of the brain associated with reward and reinforcement. This will be motivation enough as it produces plenty of warm and happy feelings in us afterwards. There is a theory that it could act like smiling in the sense that it’s contagious. Experiencing something positive is thought to enable us to feel the same, as if we had also done it… spreading positivity far and wide.
Putting something right for someone through a small act of kindness can be just as powerful. Making someone feel better on a deeper level makes us feel proud of ourselves and boosts our own mood. Many people argue that humans never do anything solely for
someone else without some benefit to themselves, but I’m sat here wondering if that even matters? Kindness is kindness! I am not about to turn away a doughnut or a smile because I think the person giving it to me wants to boost their mood! I’ll take it thank you very much. In the end of the day, if we are all feeling a little better and happier, what can be so wrong with the motivation behind it?
So following this, I realised it would be the best time to try out this idea of kindness and its ripple-like behaviour. At a time when I’m struggling, how does being extra kind affect my mood and happiness levels?
Do people tend to have the generosity to be kind to others when they are struggling themselves? How do you cope?
How will I do it?
This week, I’ll compliment people, smile at a stranger, text something nice to a friend, help someone who needs it, put something in a charity box for someone, buy someone who is sleeping on the street a hot drink…
I’ll be trying this out and will let you know how it changes my own mood and my own feelings right now. More on kindness next week!
Here is something else I read which could be useful to you:“I’ve also found that being kind is a useful approach to take to my own anxiety; if I am ‘kind’ to it and myself, it generates a cycle of positivity. This is the thinking behind my little self help book on anxiety, which explains that if we ‘make friends’ with anxiety, we will increase compassion for ourselves, whereas if we battle anxiety and get angry with it, it will spawn panic and grow”Sarah Rayner – http://www.psychologytoday.com