The Power of Kindness
Lollie McLain

Kindness is a healing balm for improving health and happiness that I've seen my friend Deanna Cummins use on everything from starved stray animals to her grandparents, who are in different stages of Alzheimers, and even on suicidal friends (me included at one time). Deanna is a Doctor of Divinity, and kindness is the subject of her doctoral thesis.  When she gets time to build her own web site, kindness will be the primary focus of her site.

Rule number one:
Whether a plant, an animal or a person;
If it's alive it's much more likely to thrive
when you give it lots of loving attention.

Rule number two:
Isolation kills.
You don't have to believe me or Deanna, just check the statistics on death rates of babies in orphanages versus in homes and the death rates of geriatric patients in nursing homes versus home health care. The numbers speak louder than words.

A person who is depressed may be unintentionally pushing people away. Everything they see and hear and everything they think, say and do is being filtered through that depression. Anytime information gets filtered through a negative emotion it gets distorted some. You can see their depression, when you let them talk about it sometimes it just depresses them more. They may withdraw. They may become stickery or irritable.

What can you do to help them want to come back and enjoy life again? These suggestions will sound too simple. They are simple and they can be profoundly effective. Although Deanna applies kindness to plants animals and people, for now I'm only going to apply it to situations where someone you know and care about seems depressed or down in the dumps. As you read these you may think but this goes without saying doesn't it? Unless you're doing these things already, then no, no it doesn't go without saying. 

What if we all did more of the following with more people from this day forward?  Imagine what our world would look like then....

  • Visit them often.

  • Looking into their eyes, smile at them more.

  • Pat their hands and their shoulders more.

  • Listen to them more.

  • Entertain them more.

  • Tell them things they've done that impressed you, made you think, made you feel better, made you change for the better.

  • Get them up and moving towards pleasure, a walk, a movie, a drive, a pretty or unusual restaurant, a petting zoo.... get them moving.

  • If they won't budge, bring in the cards, the monopoly, the chess game, rent a hilarious video.... don't force anything, but a little gentle loving nudge doesn't hurt.

  • Get them touching things, bring in various textures and colors of materials and ask their opinions, borrow a puppy or kitten for a few hours, cook something they'll eat that's beautiful and delicious, bring simple healthy pleasure into their present moment more.

  • Tell them aloud: You are important to me. I care about you. I'm not giving up on you. I miss you. WE miss you. WE want you to come back and have fun with us again. Say: You know what I love about you? Then tell them.

  • Do things you only do to people you enjoy and feel comfortable with like: give their arm a little nudge with your elbow or bop them lightly on the head with a rolled up piece of paper. Basically, in the ways you normally do it, express your camaraderie with them.

  • Rather than ask how they feel, ask what they want to do today to have fun. Get them to having fun. Tell them they look like they're doing better. (They do now!) Then.... ask them how they're doing. Really listen.

  • If they're embarrassed or ashamed, tell them an embarrassing story on your self and follow that with the most embarrassing stories you've ever heard of, get them to watch Bloopers and practical jokes. This by the way is one of the few situations when even the tabloids can have a healthy value.... So far nothing I've ever encountered reduces the pain of embarrassment more than seeing others embarrassing moments. It is an immediate perspective adjustment.

  • If they're depressed then they're experiencing overwhelm. The problem may appear hopeless to them. After you've helped reduce the intensity of their depression.... If they're open to talking about it, help them see how they can break the problem into separate pieces... figure out which piece of the problem is the most important, focus on coming up with healthy solutions to that one problem.... so they can resolve the difficulties rather than continuing to suffering them.

The important thing to remember is that most people who commit suicide are ambivalent or undecided or rather "teetering" between doing it and not doing it. They are teetering between the pain of living and the pain of dying. If we increase their connection to pleasure in living and we increase the pain they connect to suicide we can make a difference. You can make a difference.

Remember the rules, remember there are exceptions to every rule. Remember the instructions, adjust them to your specific situation. Play it by ear. We can't prevent every suicide. We can help prevent a lot of them. get educated in the standard advice and get help.

Do your part, and don't try to do it all alone.


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