When we struggle with our mental health, sometimes it can feel like an impossible task to see the light on a dark day. Finding things to feel positive about, or increasing our own sense of self esteem can be incredibly difficult, and we are often consumed by feelings of worthlessness.
However, something that I have found always boosts me, and makes me feel better about myself, as well as giving me a more positive outlook on life is looking for opportunities to do a little bit of good, or show kindness to others. I have recently spent some time in Bulgaria, and wanted to speak about two small acts of kindness I engaged in.
The first was during a trip to small village in Bulgaria, which was a particularly poor area where people had very little. Whilst walking down a cobbled street on a very hot day, I could see that I was approaching a dead end, and should turn back. But before doing so, I noticed a lady sitting outside of her home crocheting. I approached to look at some of the beautiful pieces she had created, and she seemed a little surprised that anyone had come. She spoke very little English, and unfortunately I knew no Bulgarian at all. But I told her that her work was beautiful, and that I wished to buy a piece from her. The woman seemed incredibly pleased at my compliment, and was thrilled to sell me something. I chose a piece with a large flower design, which she asked me for 10 Bulgarian Levs for, (which is the equivalent of about £5). I handed her 20 Bulgarian Levs, and I could see her concern that she may not have enough to give me change. I told her that I wanted her to keep it, and that I was very thankful to her for allowing me to buy something from her. She was so touched that I had given her this extra amount of money, that she became very emotional. She held both of my hands and cried, whilst repeatedly thanking me. Both of us had tears streaming down our faces, and it was an incredible moment between two strangers, who did not speak the same language, who came from completely different places and lived totally different lives, but were coming together and completely connecting and understanding one another in that moment. The truth is, this act from my part was incredibly small, as it cost me very little and I had gained something beautiful from it. But seeing how moving the act was to another person made me intensely happy and was very fulfilling. Her crocheted piece now rests proudly on my dining table, where I can admire it and remember fondly how it came to be in my possession.
The second act of kindness I would like to speak about involved a little street dog, who had made her way into our hotel grounds. People were largely concerned that she was present, and mostly avoided her like the plague. Now, anyone who knows me will know that I love animals, and in particular I really love dogs. I feel at ease and peace in the presence of dogs, and feel a strong bond with them. So naturally, when I saw this little dog wandering around in the blazing heat, the only thing that crossed my mind was that she would benefit from some cool water. So I took a cup and filled it with chilled water, and I approached her. I sat on the ground beside her, and fed her the water from the cup, which she drank down fast. I then gently touched the side of her face, and she came in closer to receive more affection from me. I could see that this little dog craved affection and love, so I spent time sitting with her and tickling her tummy. For the rest of the time I was there, each morning I would wait for her to wander in, and would again give her water and spend time showing her the love she deserved. I noticed that a little boy had been watching me with her each morning, and so I asked him if he wanted to help. He was thrilled and came to stroke the dog, and the following morning he brought her the water and fed to her. When the time came that I had to come home, the little boy was excited to take over the responsibility for showing kindness to the little dog. Now this act made me feel really good for two reasons. The first was of course that I had been able to show kindness to an animal in need, and build a bond with a beautiful dog who only wanted to be loved. But the second, and in some ways even stronger sense of pride, came from showing a child the importance of kindness towards animals, and showing him how we can take care of struggling beings in our world. I feel like this is an incredibly vital and valuable lesson that all children must learn-to love and respect all animals in this world equally.
On my darkest days, beyond any therapy, any medication, or any kind words, the one thing I can rely on to remind myself of my own worth is reflecting on the kind things I have done for others, no matter how big or small. Go and spread some kindness everyone!
Until next time…