Chestnuts, sticks and stones

05 February 2019 | Opinion

Justicia Shipena



According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), health is “a complete state of physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”.

If one accepts this definition of “health”, as I assure you I do, then there are a lot of behaviours that have the ability to affect a lifestyle that is by definition “healthy”.

Something I have noticed over the course of the summer as a friend, sister and journalist is the power of my attitude in contributing to a more “complete state of mental and social well-being”, which is so intricately connected to my physical well-being.

The sarcastic side of my brain doesn’t really agree with what my many observations and experiences demonstrate. Sure, when I’m snarky, it doesn’t really make my day better; and sure, when I treat people with openness and good humour, my day does go better.

But I’m sure that’s a coincidence. After all, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”, right?

Wrong. Words have unimaginable power and as we all learned from the sage Uncle Ben in the movie Spider-Man, “with great power comes great responsibility”.

Is this cliché? Yes, definitely, but clichés, adages and proverbs are the oft-repeated, pithy statements that we know and love for a reason: they’re salient observations about the human condition, at least the adages that keep up with current best practices on health and well-being, are. No more “sticks and stones”, please.

In this reality where the way we treat each other has the power to affect emotional health, which is really just “health”, we should pay better attention to what we say to each other. Simply asking someone how he or she is or offering a seemingly minor compliment or note of gratitude makes an immeasurable difference in that person’s day.

I’ll pause for a moment to refute possible naysayers before I forge on. I’m not saying that we should be the “politically correct police” and jump on people every time they say something insensitive, and I’m not saying we should treat each other with kid gloves and avoid having conflict of any kind.

Policing opinions stifle productive conversation rather than encouraging it; conflict is part of a functioning society. No, what I’m suggesting is paying attention to the routine and the trivial and adjusting the ways we treat each other to reflect the way we ourselves would want to be treated; the golden rule is truly an adage worth repeating.

The routine and the trivial can sometimes be confused with the insignificant. First, I’d like to counter that with another excellent cliché, this time from Aristotle: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

What we habitually do, the trivial niceties we undertake each and every day, are important. Treating others excellently should extend beyond those that we know and like; we must make a habit of treating those we don’t know or those who test our patience, excellently too.

When we ask for something at a store, we should do so politely, taking into account that that person on the other side of the counter is a human, and that showing a bit of kindness will go a long way toward making his or her day significantly better. Treating everyone with this same respect and kindness, when it’s a habit, becomes excellence.

What’s exceptionally noteworthy about making kindness a habit is the way it feels to the person being kind, based on my observations. When I treat someone well, I feel good about it, and it’s something I carry through to the rest of my day. When I can look at my behaviour with pride, or on some days without reproach, I feel general goodwill and excitement about life. I have energy, and I want to keep the happy feelings going.

By contrast, when I’m rude and I can see how I’ve affected someone else intentionally or not, I am annoyed with myself and the feeling lingers. Where I once had positive energy, I instead feel tired and pessimistic.

To me, it’s clear: the reward for treating others with kindness, or failing to do so, is always twofold. Treating others well is good for both parties; treating others poorly is bad for both parties.

I know what’s right and I know what’s better for my well-being, so kindness even when it seems inconsequential, is of the utmost importance. After all, according to Aesop, “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”

[email protected]

Similar News

 

Let us tread carefully

4 days ago - 17 July 2019 | Opinion

When expectations are not met, citizens wronged in this regard should have channels, means and ways to air their grievances and have them addressed effectively.In...

When accountability gathers dust

5 days ago - 16 July 2019 | Opinion

In August 2014, just months before the election that swept President Hage Geingob to power, commentators bemoaned the fact that outgoing head of state Hifikepunye...

Shedding light on the crime battle

6 days ago - 15 July 2019 | Opinion

Nored’s intervention, which saw two high-mast lights being installed at Rundu’s Ndama location, should be commended. Rundu is among the country’s towns that are dangerous...

Swapo does Hage no favours

1 week ago - 12 July 2019 | Opinion

Much has been said and written about Katrina Hanse-Himarwa’s corruption conviction and her subsequent resignation as education minister.For now she remains a Swapo MP in...

It’s time to smell the coffee

1 week ago - 11 July 2019 | Opinion

In December 2015, then Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) director of elections, Paul Isaak, told Nampa in an interview the commission would be using electronic...

A birthright for a song

1 week ago - 10 July 2019 | Opinion

Like the proverbial biblical Esau who sold his birthright to his younger brother Jacob for a bowl of steaming hot lentil stew, Namibia still finds...

We should make every effort

1 week ago - 08 July 2019 | Opinion

We are in full agreement with the Namibia National Farmers’ Union that government should open up all the closed water points in the communal areas....

An open letter to the Municipality of Windhoek

2 weeks ago - 05 July 2019 | Opinion

By Festus U. Muundjua I am writing to respond and to correct the wrong information fed to the New Era of Friday 3...

Are we reforming the United Nations or maintaining the...

2 weeks ago - 05 July 2019 | Opinion

By Alexactus T. KaureReforming the UN is a topic which is on everybody's lips nowadays. At the centre of the debate is the UN Security...

Healing the African family

2 weeks ago - 03 July 2019 | Opinion

International Organisation for Migration (IOM) regional director for west and central Africa, Richard Danziger, describes migration as the defining issue of this century. One billion...

Latest News

Making employees feel at home...

2 days ago - 19 July 2019 | Business

Jonell Malan Human resource management is essentially the management of human resources (HR). It is a function in organisations designed to maximise employee performance in...

Fascinated by consumers

2 days ago - 19 July 2019 | Business

Evany van Wyk Rozanne van der Merwe comes across as being the epitome of female empowerment and friendliness. And this is exactly who she is....

No dazzling half-year for Namdeb

2 days ago - 19 July 2019 | Business

Jo-Maré DuddyNamdeb Holdings recorded its worst first half-year since 2016, with diamond production for the six months ended 30 June plummeting by nearly 22% compared...

Vulnerable and alone

2 days ago - 19 July 2019 | Social Issues

After an initial projection in 2008 that there would be 250 000 orphans and vulnerable children under the age of 15 by 2021, President Hage...

Zero cattle on offer at...

2 days ago - 19 July 2019 | Agriculture

The Oshana Regional Livestock Marketing Cooperative suspects that livestock prices have dropped so low because of the drought that farmers are no longer willing to...

Hope rekindled at Linus Shashipapo

2 days ago - 19 July 2019 | Education

Hope has been finally been rekindled that Linus Shashipapo Secondary School, which is currently in a sorry state, will be renovated.This comes after a tender...

Resilient and strong

2 days ago - 19 July 2019 | Business

Mariselle StofbergWith her tenacious attitude, collaborative nature and desire to always learn and draw from other people’s knowledge and experience, Leorine Waggie is clearly on...

Being unapologetically you

2 days ago - 19 July 2019 | Banking

Mariselle Stofberg Adriano Visagie went from playing in the dusty streets of Katutura to becoming a powerhouse in the entertainment industry and has created...

The great unwind and calls...

2 days ago - 19 July 2019 | Economics

Lazarus Shigwedha - Balance sheet recessions are the toughest to manage when they occur simultaneously with distressed debt conditions in the wider economy. During balance...

Load More