Our Future Health and Happiness – an essay by Andy Bradley

Is dependent on our ability to evolve into kindness.  At this time in our evolution we more easily and naturally default into fear than into love – we jump back into our reptilian threat state more than we jump forward into our human loving state.

So, it is difficult for us humans to be human – when we behave badly it helps if we forgive ourselves – this doesn’t mean we have to condone the kinds of dreadful and harmful things we are capable of doing to each other but it does help to step back and to understand – without this stepping back the cycles of hurt and violence will continue.

The good news is that we are wired to co-operate and to be kind – some wonderful breakthroughs in our understanding of what happens when we are empathising with each other – and when we are moved to act to care for each other are showing that it is natural for us to be kind – to alleviate each other’s suffering – natural when we are conscious – when we are cultivating the conditions to live more peacefully, with gratitude and humility – when we are seeking the wealth to be found in caring relationships as opposed to the grasping, clinging and comparing that is inevitable when we are driven by the forces of competition and greed.

We all contain within us good seeds and bad seeds – we are all capable of being unkind and wicked towards each other – and we are all capable of growing our capacity for goodness. So we must decide what to focus on and grow our personal and collective goodness – our capacity for care.

A good place to focus our energies is in pre-schools and primary schools as children who are pointed in the direction of kindness and co-operation will embody a brighter, healthier and happier future. Children who are aware of their bodies, who are grateful to be alive, who can calm their minds, who naturally look out for each other and celebrate each other’s differences.  Children who have space to be who they are meant to be – who are the authors of their own lives.

A primary school teacher I know has recently returned to the classroom (year 1 so the children are 5) after a 10 year break – the pressure on the children and the teachers has grown significantly at this time – it is difficult to find space in the school day to relax, connect and create –the mind-set of the teacher is dominated by APP – assessing pupil progress – this is a violence against our children and our way of life as these little humans need space to play, to create, to flourish. As an antidote to the pressure the teacher has introduced a chain of kindness – the children are encouraged to ‘catch each other doing something kind’ and to share these moments with the teacher and each other; when a kind moment is witnessed, the class takes a pause whilst the story is written and then added to the chain which is beginning to snake around the classroom. The chain has become heavy in the doorway and the children have to duck as they enter the class – sometimes the tops of their heads brush against the paper chain – the teacher smiles when she notices this as she realises they are being touched by kindness.

Imagine if every year one classroom adopted this simple practice. If every school cultivated a consciousness of kindness. If every care home and hospital and GP surgery, every prison, every business was moving in the direction of kindness – creating the conditions in which people feel like they matter, that their unique contribution is valued, that they can be forgiven for what they have done that has hurt others.

We must laugh, we must sing, we are blessed by everything. Everything we look upon is blessed

From a dialogue of self and soul by William ButlerYeates


My sincere belief is that we can write a new chapter in our shared story of care – where we recognise what a blessing is it to be alive, living this precious life and we learn to care for ourselves and each other.

I said something like this a few years back during a radio interview – I was talking about the need for a shift from separation to togetherness and a friend and I were hosting monthly togetherness walks at the time – walks where we would invite local people most at risk of not receiving any invites– the interviewer said that she understood, that she ‘got it’….and then she said it’s all a bit utopian though isn’t it?

My response-

Help me find another position – who should we leave out?

Of a vision in which we all feel like we matter.

I asked Martin in the pet shop this morning about his connection to dementia – we are developing some ideas for a community experiment called dementia space.

At first he looked blank then he started to talk about his connection to music and how that has led him to be a DJ at saga gatherings in Worthing where the youngest dancer is 70 and it rises steeply from there – he lit up as he remembered Lucy who requested a Frank Ifield track – and Lucy abandoning her zimmer frame as the music of her youth began to play.

And then Martin told me that his dad was in hospital.

And then he told me he had been the DJ at a retirement party for nurse – who had been in the profession for 40 years – he started to laugh about the cake – it was brown as the nurses friends had made a cake to look like poo – with different kinds of poo the nurse was used to seeing which would help her to understand what was happening inside the bodies of the people she was caring for.

And now I am thinking about Casper – he is 4 – I asked him the other night to tell me a story about his lego model he had just made – it was the fastest model in the universe –he had put a little piece of grape skin into the fuel area – he told me that it was a piece of poo and that the model would explode into tiny pieces of poo. We both fell about laughing.

We are all just passing through; we may as well enjoy the ride!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s