This week, my niece, daughter, and I planned a surprise party for my sister. It was a BIG birthday, and we had to work at a precision pace because life was crazy and we didn’t decide what to do until the last minute.
We made it simple with her likes in mind and gathered together a small group of her favorite people to wish her happy birthday. I am writing this before the event, so I can only hope she is thrilled and has a blast visiting with guests who could get away and drive the miles.
My point: doing something kind for someone can improve your mental wellness. I have had terrible allergies and pinkeye, but I was so busy trying to make a special day for my sister, I didn’t have time to whine and cry and feel woe is me. (I did find time for recruiting brief sympathy).
I also have a neighbor who is kind and helpful to everyone, always. If my theory is accurate, he must be exceptionally mentally healthy. He offers advice, help, and tools. Also, he is cheery. He enhances my mental wellness, so I would guess he too reaps benefits from his kindness.
The personal uplift comes more from the doing and giving than from the response or recognition. My sister might be disappointed we didn’t do something more elaborate. She might be feeling a little sick and not enjoy the party as much as we had hoped. Some of the special guests might not show up even though their RSVP was affirmative. It might be a windy, crummy day. We might not have enough food, etc.
None of those scenarios would feel great, but for two weeks I had an elevated sense of happy even though I physically felt like — awful. My sister is special, I don’t often get to collaborate with my niece, and it is stimulating to work with my daughter. My opportunity to give returned valuable rewards.
Not only did the process improve my mood, but I will also have many pleasant thoughts of the event for years to come. The benefits are not temporary.
If you are down or feeling low, plan and do something kind for someone else. It could be magic.
Until the next time: Live while you live
Jennifer Goble, Ph.D., LPC, is the author of “My Clients…My Teachers,” and the blogger and writer of Rural Women Stories: www.ruralwomenstories.com.
Powered by WPeMatico