“The Goodness That Surrounds You”
4 minute read
I’m guessing that at some point in your life you’ve felt alone.
And I’m sure that even though you have family and friends that you can call upon, you don’t always feel able to do that.
Maybe you’re too proud. Maybe you don’t want to worry them. Or maybe you feel like you should be able to handle all this shit by yourself.
Whatever your reasons, it’s a common feeling to believe that you’re alone.
And sometimes, when you look out into the world and see the people that are out there, you can end up feeling more alone than ever.
Today though, I want to challenge that.
From a mental and emotional perspective, 2022 was one of the most difficult years of my life.
I’d always been somebody that handled all his problems independently and I saw the receiving of support as failure, like it somehow made me weak.
But last year was different and the overwhelm was too much.
For the first time in my life, I began to accept the support of family and friends; but even then, I still put a limit on this because I never wanted to become a burden. I didn’t want to become the proverbial broken-record.
I also started to re-shape my inner world, ensuring that my time spent alone was positive, constructive, and I learnt how to make myself happy again.
I now had a healthy social network, supportive family, and I was happy in my own company; yet something was still missing.
Despite the positive moves that I’d made, everything felt too insular.
It was as though I’d got this incredibly strong bubble to live in, but everything on the outside was too scary to deal with.
The many aspects surrounding the pandemic certainly hadn’t helped; multiple lockdowns, fear of illness, and questioning whether daily news was actually propaganda. We didn’t know what to believe or who to trust.
But at some point, last year, I realised that if I was feeling this way then perhaps other people did too. I’d always believed in the good of the world, and so I decided to look for it once again.
Throughout the second half of 2022 I started engaging with strangers again. It was scary at first, but I soon got back into old habits.
I’d smile and say hello to passers-by, I’d ask open-ended questions, and I started engaging in random acts of kindness.
When I bought my groceries, I’d speak to the checkout assistants.; one lady telling me about her grandchildren, another about her dogs, and the young guy at the food hall telling me he was about to head off on an archaeological expedition with university, his face beaming with pride as he spoke.
I began to feel a shift.
Maybe this new old-habit began to change how the world was seeing me too. Before all this I believed that people no longer cared and that the world had turned cold, but now I’d have a complete stranger looking at me and asking, with a smile…
“Are you okay?”
What you put out into the world, is exactly what you get back from it. It’s a mirror, and if you project warmth and kindness, then that’s what you receive. If you give love, you receive love.
I realised that the world hadn’t changed at all. The only thing that had changed was me.
My mum has a massive heart. She’s a true lady that carries herself with dignity and grace.
She comes across as delicate on the surface, but underneath she’s a strong woman. When things turn to shit, she rolls up her sleeves and gets stuck in. Yet she’s too humble to need any recognition for this.
At the tail end of 2022 there was an unexpected event which meant she had to get to the hospital, quite hurriedly; first as the driver, and then as a lone visitor. (1)
She was understandably upset, and this was compounded by the usual overwhelm of a hospital car park; having to fight for a parking space and then figuring out the pay system, all while under incredible stress.
My mum politely asked a passer-by for assistance, and, knowing her the way that I do, she’d have done this in a dignified way, all while attempting to keep her distress hidden.
But any person with a big heart will always struggle to do this, their emotions normally visible in their eyes at the very least. And the passer-by picked up on this and took her under their wing, arranging the parking with her, and ensuring that the parking fee was covered.
My mum was so grateful that she hugged the other lady, their kindness and generosity having made a huge difference in a horrible situation.
Yet they didn’t want anything in return.
All they wanted was to help a stranger.
I’ve often spoken of the kindness of strangers when travelling, but it doesn’t just apply when we’re on the road. It’s all around us.
Maybe it just feels harder to see because we’re all so caught up in our daily lives and routines; we’re living on auto-pilot. Yet it’s out there.
The world is full of good people, but we have to be willing to see them.
Do you need further convincing? Then try this little test.
Grab your phone – or whatever device you have for listening to music – and then head out somewhere public and put your headphones on.
First, put on some loud and aggressive music, and then take a look at the people around you. I can guarantee that you’ll perceive faces to be angry and you’ll believe that threats are everywhere.
Then, change the song and put on some heart-warming and uplifting music, and then take a second look around. I’ll make a bet that it now seems like a different place and you’ll perceive faces to be kind, you’ll see smiles, displays of love, and you’ll spot friends that you’ve not yet met.
It’s all about perception.
It’s all about how you choose to see the world.
Now, in 2023, whenever I’m feeling lonely and I don’t plan on seeing family or friends, or if my own pleasures at home aren’t quite doing the trick, I head out into the world; and I smile and say hello to everybody that I see.
By the time I get home, I’ve had enough interactions to make me believe in the good of the world again, and of the people that are in it.
I believe that goodness can be found all around us.
And while ever I believe in that, I know that there will always be hope.
(1) I didn’t find out until afterwards because, bless her, she didn’t want to risk bothering me while I was at work because she knew I’d want to leave work and help. Instead, she just dealt with it all alone.
Did this article resonate with you and do you know of anybody that would appreciate reading it? If so then please do feel free to share this article wherever you can.
Do you have any thoughts or opinions on anything you’ve just read? How does it apply to your life? How do you tend to view the world when you’re hurting or feeling alone? Are there any ways in which you’ve been able to recognise the good in the world? Do you have any techniques that you’d like to share with the rest of us? Or do you perhaps need a little help in this regard? Do you have any other related thoughts about this article that you’d like to share with other readers? Or do you have any questions of your own to ask that either myself or my readers can give an opinion on? Please feel free to leave a comment below and we’ll begin a conversation.
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I’m off a dog walk round the local park and I’m going to interact with new people after reading this, no head phones in listening to an audiobook.
I love that! Yes absolutely, head out there and say hello… 🙂
Oh man – what an amazing article! The authenticity and vulnerability of this post truly touched my heart.
Loneliness is like one of those giant human-sized hamster balls. You climb in and move around by pushing the monstrosity all over, knocking people down and tripping over yourself.
After feeling wronged by people I thought were there to protect, love, and care for me, I caught myself being hesitant to let others in, fearing that I would face the same troubles if I opened myself up. I had these thoughts but what I really wanted was to give the world a chance again.
When we realize we aren’t alone, we have nothing to prove and we don’t need to be fixed; we cut through the noise getting in the way of truly living our best adventure. How easy it is to lose sight of all the good in the world and within ourselves. We have so much power in shaping the world through our interactions with others and with ourselves.
There is goodness in this world—beauty, innocence, kindness, joy, and laughter. Like I always say: joy is all around us, IF you choose to see it. I try to be positive and open-minded about people but I do get my intuitions! Definitely trying to focus on the good. And, you never know what someone might be going through.
PS. Any list about combating loneliness that doesn’t involve a dog, is incomplete. Said by a biased dog owner. 🙂
Loved this blog! I agree that we tend to get back the vibes we put out. It is so interesting how friendly chit chat with strangers can lift one’s spirits…but it does!
Loved this article. Yes, your mum is an amazing person, though she doesn’t see it. She’s a true giver and I love her for that. I’m a great believer in positivity but agree it is sometimes difficult to see in this forever changing world. Thanks for your direction as always.