A group of enthusiastic young girls approached me in Jansen Park recently. They were picking up rubbish, in the hope of encouraging others to “pay it forward” by doing something similar. I was happy to take home the recyclable items they’d collected and put them in my bin. Well done girls – great community spirit.
Being happy means spending more time focussing on the good things than the bad, and we spread ripples of happiness when we do this in conversation with others. Complaining about how bad your life is only brings other people down as well as yourself.
However, if something is weighing you down despite your efforts to be positive, remember the old saying: a problem shared is a problem halved. Talking with a sympathetic listener can make your burdens lighter.
Research shows that having even one confidante is an effective buffer against depression. Unfortunately, depression has been on the rise over recent decades as people have become more isolated from one another, with around a quarter of the population having nobody in whom they can confide.
We need to connect with each other a lot more and take better care of each other.
If you’re struggling with a problem, find an understanding person to talk to. If you’re not used to asking for help, start by letting the person know that you need their support – otherwise they may miss that point completely. If there’s nobody in your immediate circle, find a counsellor.
And if somebody comes to you with a problem – especially if they don’t usually – listen and show you care. Be aware that people who aren’t used to asking for help will back off if you don’t show concern, reinforcing their sense of isolation and making them less likely to ask again. If you feel ill-equipped to help, you can show concern by involving someone who can.
Let’s make a habit of halving each other’s troubles.