As you read the title of this piece you may be wondering why exactly I decided to undergo this activity. It was pretty simple, all you have to do is look at the statistics. If you are reading this as an Australian teenager aged between 18-24, you are now in the age bracket that has the highest probability of possessing a mental heath problem. So much so, that 1 in 5 adolescence are said to be affected by mental health issues (Black Dog Institute). It doesn’t take an expert to acknowledge that those statistics are extremely alarming. In addition, that statistic is likely to be even higher if you come from a community or group that is actively or formerly discriminated against. For example, Indigenous Australians. Men’s mental health is also significantly underrepresented in media, due to a very low percentage of men actually speaking up due to a number of reasons. In turn, leading to a very toxic cyclical pattern that is difficult to break. However, every individual has their own set of circumstances and mental heath is not discriminatory, and can affect absolutely anyone no matter the status, age, colour, creed or ethnicity.
Therefore, after thoroughly taking in those statistics, I decided to do what I believe needs to be done far more often (and not necessarily publicly). I chose to ask people to heart react to my Facebook status if they would like a compliment sent to them privately. It was something I could do as a way to say ‘I acknowledge you and I appreciate you’. I had no motive behind it, I simply came up with the idea in the moment, after another Facebook friend of mine had done something similar a few weeks back. Meaning that this blog post was not planned, and I had no intention of writing it until now. And while random acts of kindness will always trump those which are requested, I knew that my time would not be wasted by making others feel just that little bit more appreciated. Expecting 20 or so reacts, I went about my night, not checking Facebook until quite the hour later, to be flooded with an overwhelming response of over 90 people. Some I knew very well, some I had met once or twice, others mutual friends and some who I really didn’t know too much about at all. As night became morning, I had over 110 reacts and by the afternoon over 120.
It took me far longer to reply than I had anticipated, but alas I did send a personalised message to every single person who heart reacted my status. All 125 of them. What I learnt from this experience was more valuable than any classroom lesson. As I read through each reply back I was pleasantly surprised. People saying that their message “Made their day” or “Made them feel so much better”. Just hearing those words, and even a “Thank you” acknowledging that my message was appreciated and worth while, brought on a feeling of overwhelming joy. To know that my words had impacted someone else’s life, even just in a minor way, was incredible.
Now, what clicked to me. Usually I hear a lot of celebrities, youtubers, public or important figures get asked what they want to achieve in life or what their purpose is, and most of the time their responses includes a mention of wanting to help others. I have always been extremely skeptical of this, always questioning if they said it just for the publicity or to look like a “Good person” to their fans and followers. Sure, some people probably do have poor motives such as that. However, it has only been with this small task that I have gained an understanding as to how an individual could say that their purpose in life truely is to ‘help others’. It really is something so special.
Now if I am correct, if something “Changes you”, then you should likely have a response to that change. My response is that I have set myself some additional goals for the year that I had not already previously intended to prioritise. One of which is to put money into donating to causes that I believe in. I am ashamed to say that I have never truely donated to a cause properly, in a way I would like too (not counting the forceful donation to a Cotton on cashier for a cause I know nothing about, that I have been guilt-tripped into). Partly, because I never know how or where to donate to get the desired results and partly because It just never really crosses my mind. Another aim of of mine, which I have seen a few people do recently is to create a birthday fundraiser this year, for my friends on Facebook to donate too if they can or would like too. It will likely be something related to animals or the environment, as my passion for these areas trumps most others. It is important to me that I not only be a voice for change, but take an active part in it physically.
While I think if you are helping others for your own personal gain or satisfaction, you are not doing it for the right reasons, you should still feel a sense of joy and pride when you do do something that has impacted someone in a meaningful way, because you are essentially making the world a better place, one act at a time. It is when you crave acknowledgement and an audience to do good deeds, that it becomes a toxic act.
Overall, I truely believe that spreading love and appreciation, especially without request, is the best way to make someone feel a sense of belonging or happiness that they may have not had before. Words are so incredibly powerful and if they are utilised in the correct manner, they can make all the difference in this world. While I never set out to write a blog post from this, I am glad that my own experience is something I can share to show people exactly how rewarding it is. By showing people that they are always appreciated and always have a friendly face to turn to if they ever need it, you can change someones day or night so dramatically. It is exactly what we need more of in this world. So please spread some more love, there is plenty to go around!