THE NEFF ZONE -- BY JIM NEFF
CADILLAC NEWS -- OCTOBER 2, 2021
Have you felt a bit drained lately? Have you experienced a diminished amount of energy? If so, you are not alone. “These struggles are not new, but they are intensifying.”
An article in Time magazine explained the cause for our exhaustion. “There are many reasons for our collective fatigue: a year-and-a-half-long pandemic, social unrest and democratic backslide—to name just a few. But even beyond these obvious drivers, there is something else going on: We are replacing excitement with anxiety. We thrive with some degree of oscillation in our lives. The pandemic has, by and large, taken these punctuated bouts of excitement away.”
Common diversions are not as straightforward as they used to be. Things like “...attending concerts, sporting events, movies, going to restaurants, and taking a proper vacation are still off-limits. And even for those who feel more comfortable partaking in these sorts of activities, they are not stress-free. Every night out is accompanied by some degree of decision stress on the front end.” In short: “There is a collective lack of excitement in our lives.”
Lifting ourselves out of this chasm is no easy task. “A chronic lack of excitement is challenging enough on its own. But it is even worse when we replace our longing for excitement with anxiety. Repeated bouts of anxiety lead to deep exhaustion. Put it all together and not only are we lacking many sources of positive and energizing excitement, but we are replacing them with negative and exhausting sources of anxiety. Viewed in this light, the question isn’t why are we tired all the time? The question is how could we not be tired all the time?” (https://time.com/6099133/why-you-feel-tired-all-the-time/)
So, is there anything that could bring us out of these doldrums? Could there be something to replace the negative with the positive? Well, I may have stumbled upon something that may be just the ticket – kindness. (Stick with me here.)
A British University is embarking on a project that has to do with kindness, “Kindness might once have been considered something of a soft topic, but it has begun to be taken seriously within academic research. When developmental psychologist Robin Banerjee – who is leading a new study on kindness in partnership with the BBC – surveyed past research, he found just thirty-five papers on kindness in psychology journals in the whole of the 1980s. In the past decade, there were more than one thousand.”
There was a lot of good information contained in those papers. They revealed that we know some specific things about kindness.
We know acting kindly makes us feel good. “Neuroscientific research confirms that the warm glow we experience when we do something nice for someone shows up in our brain’s reward system.”
We know kindness is contagious. “Kind acts can have a ripple effect. Just hearing that someone else has behaved kindly can motivate us to do the same.”
We know acting kindly can make you feel less anxious. “When people who experience social anxiety were asked to perform acts of kindness, their social anxiety and desire to avoid social situations was reduced.”
With this knowledge in hand, researchers are planning to find out even more about human kindness. “There is plenty that we already know about kindness from experiments conducted in the lab. Yet even some of those working in the field have argued that the whole idea of kindness still needs to be unpacked and that more research is needed on how individuals differ in their kindness, and how it impacts societies.”
To accomplish this task is a huge undertaking. “The BBC has just launched a huge online public science project called the Kindness Test, in collaboration with a team from the University of Sussex in the UK. It's open now and many thousands of people from all over the globe have already completed it. The hope is that this research will start the process of obtaining a fuller picture of kindness in today's world.”(https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20210921-what-we-do-and-dont-know-about-kindness)
This is where you come in. It's a great chance to focus on something positive and do something really interesting. You can participate by taking the Kindness Test. “The Kindness Test is designed to explore our everyday experiences of kindness in different settings. Most people would probably say they have a good idea about what it means to be kind and what it feels like to give and receive kindness. But there has been relatively little research into kindness -- what it is, where and when it is experienced, and what impact it has. We want to explore how people's attitudes and experiences might vary across different groups, and we also want to know how kindness might relate to health, well-being, and other social and psychological experiences.”
I took the test and it was interesting, thought provoking, and very enjoyable. Some of the questions asked what I would do in certain situations, so I learned some things about myself that I had not thought about before.
“The Kindness Test involves completing an online questionnaire which will take about thirty minutes. The Kindness Test asks for your views on kindness. There are no right or wrong answers. You can skip any questions that you do not feel comfortable with. You can fill in The Kindness Test on a computer, smartphone or tablet.”
To take part, go to thekindnesstest.org. There, you'll find a complete explanation of what the test entails. I found the test to be thirty minutes well spent.