This week two Facebook friends of mine lost 'things' of great value, specifically their gold wedding ring and their dog. In the 'real world community' I heard my aunt lost her purse.
The reaction on Facebook was immediate with people sharing the 'lost item' post. People giving words of support and encouragement and offering to help. Here is the good news, the ring, the dog and the wallet were all handed in and returned to their relieved owners.
Altruism is the word that means to do nice things for other people. Studies show that altruistic acts are inherent in us humans, we have inherent caring for one another.
I am not saying that is all that makes up a person or society. I am discussing here about this positive aspect of humanity and why it is so important. My examples are just a small personal sample within a short time period.
Here is more, that wallet was lost in a supermarket, the gold wedding band was lost at a concert. The dog was found by a stranger who brought it to a vets where it was re united with its owner the next day. Such acts of kindness!
Supermarkets, concerts and the like are anonymous almost, people in the the store you typically dont know. Yet if you lost something valuable, many of us, even though we are strangers, will find a way to return it to you. My stories prove it x 3!
Psychologically it is good for us to know and to feel stories like this. Sometimes we have to look for positive stories like this as the local paper and social media can voice more concerns than praises for what goes on in society.
I wrote the word 'feel' on purpose as what you feel can be different from what you know factually. I saw a study recently how people were statistically a lot safer in fact in their community than what they felt. Their risk level for being a victim of crime statistically was very low, though perhaps they felt less safe. There is a link to a Swedish economists article below that you may well find very interesting on this topic. I suggest you read it.
On the subject of how people feel about their community and the world at large you can positively contribute. You actually play a part and can help. When you speak with other people consider sharing more positive things that you heard happen than worrying things. Negative ways of thinking and feeling can become habitual. I say that to you as a professional psychotherapist.
Self-monitor, reflect a moment, has your way of communicating 'news' stories to friends and family become more negative than positive biased? Do you complain more than you praise? Let me tell you why you should care about this at all, you should care because angry or negative language use is clearly linked to heart disease. Studies prove it. Take a look at the links below if this interests you.
You are part of society. So, it is important to address how it is you are viewing it and the people in it and what it is you are saying about it all. You contribute. Take a quick 'attitude check' is it a balanced atttitude? Or has the worries and troubles of society slanted your view towards a negativity bias?
Not only is it good for your own mental and heart health to be balanced with your attitude in this way. It is good for the wider community of people connected to you. Whether on social media or face to face, you are still part of that community.
No longer hidden information, there is an amazing study of hate and angry language use on Twitter. The study shows that the communities with a lot of hate and angry word usage had higher heart disease rates. Not only that, this study was so amazing that it found it predicted heart disease occuring in that community better than statistics used by the CDC (Centre for Disease Control). The links to that are below, makes for fascinating reading.
So you see how important this topic is?
Doesnt matter who is reading this, even people with the strongest of biases. We all have some positive intentions and do altruistic things sometimes. We all want to be happy. We also all have temptations and weaknesses. We are not perfect, as humans we certainly are not, for sure we have flaws but that is not the whole picture.
The truth is, there is goodness to be found in all of us and we are 'in this together.' Societies health reflects our health. This is our world, our communities and we all have a voice and there is a personal responsility with that. A wider social responsibility. You get to choose what you do with that responsibility. I hope this article reminds and encourages you positively.
NOTES & LINKS relevant to this article:
I am a professional psychotherapist. That is my business card below. Currently (2017-2018) I am continuing my education online with the University of Pennsylvania and their Positive Psychology program.