Nobody truly exists in isolation. What you do affects other people, and not only that – what happens to you also affects other people. We need each other, and we feel it when once of us hurts. Much like the way we’re not separate minds, bodies, souls, and so on, in a lot of ways we are connected to other people around us and across the world.
No matter what you think of other people, whether you’ve been hurt one too many times and think that you’d rather be a hermit living in the woods, or whether you think that you can do what you want and it doesn’t matter what happens to other people, it doesn’t unfortunately work like that. Our actions affect each other in positive and negative ways. We can’t always know what effects our actions will have on other people but we can always try to make choices that we think would help rather than hurt.
The way you behave when you’re feeling hard done by or hurt rubs off on people around you. They pick up on how you are in lots of little ways, and it shifts their own mood. I’m not trying to make you feel worse. Just pointing out that even something as small as your facial expression or how you talk to the bus driver when you’re stressed has the ability to change someone’s day.
You can’t be Little Miss Positivity all the time. Even if you were, that might not have a positive effect on everyone anyway. But there are times when we know we have the strength to make a choice that will bring people up instead of down.
There are bigger examples, of course – the way that rich nations affect the climate or economic conditions in other countries, or how sometimes well-meaning groups fight for a social change that then has a knock-on negative effect on another group of people. The whole thing is too complex to second guess, and you’ll never really know what is going to happen. Don’t get too worked up about all the infinite possibilities. But do remember that your choices almost never affect only you. You might never see how, but nowadays, our reach can easily be global. Let’s aim for gently raising the global good rather than contributing to the general decay.