I reflected recently, with the students of Stages 2 and 3, about the different sorts of ‘good’ feelings that come from unkindness and kindness. There’s no point denying it, sometimes people feel ‘good’ from being unkind. We can feel powerful when we exert our will over others. We can feel big by making someone else feel small. We can feel popular when we get a laugh from a group at an individual’s expense.
None of these ‘good’ feelings amount to something as deep as joy, though. In fact, feeling good in these ways can often be used to mask a lack of joy and a lack of a sense of one’s own value. These unkind and destructive ways of feeling ‘good’ do nothing compared to the incredible power of kindness, consideration and compassion. Caring for others, considering their needs and helping them meet those needs – these things move us past a simple, fleeting ‘good’ feeling, and into something much deeper, much richer.
I do hope our experience of meeting with and hearing from Campbell Remess from Project 365 sticks with our students (and indeed us as a staff). I wonder if there is a 14-year-old in the world with a depth of joy like his. The daily habit of making a gift for someone else, the daily reward of knowing one has brought light into dark times, and the heartfelt thanks and love he receives from families doing it tough – I am certain this amounts to something that flows from and feeds into something deeply good in his character. I am certain that despite the sickness and sadness Campbell encounters, he would experience a deep, ongoing joy.
It seems a good time to reflect on how we in our families and in our school go about actively, consciously contributing to the wellbeing of others, even as doing so contributes to our own wellbeing.