About just being nice.

I’m enjoying The UEFA Euros, the women’s football competition at the moment and the camaraderie of the teams is a joy to see, on and off the pitch. The England women are a great example of how pulling together as a cohesive unit develops friendship and trust and promotes success. Being part of a supportive community is so important, it is the centre of our lives, and it is great to see these women playing, laughing and working hard as a team.

Teams are all around us. I am blessed with a wonderful family, fabulous friends, neighbours, professional associates, groups that I love belonging to, such as writers’ groups. My publisher, Boldwood Books, has the most amazing network of editors and writers who have a special glue that creates a really strong network. Last week, many fellow authors met at a conference and there were photos of smiling faces, laughter, hugs and linked arms. There’s no mistake about it, being pleasant and kind is a reciprocal thing that helps us be healthier and enjoy life more. It’s a positive circle: sharing the love really works.

I saw a post on social media last week that urged people to be nice to the person standing next to them, because we don’t know what problems they might be experiencing. People are taking mental health very seriously nowadays, and I’m very happy about that. We all need to be able to reach out and connect with others, to support and be supported. Isolation, the sense of being alone, is a bad place to be. As the post said, there isn’t always visual evidence that people are going through hard times; we have no idea of the loneliness, anxiety and low self esteem a smiling person may be feeling. The cheery exterior of a person may hide a cry for help.

But social media is a place where people can hide behind nastiness. One of my children was abused on Twitter last week – I was horrified by the venom of the words used to insult. Fortunately, my twenty-something offspring was able to shrug it off, say ‘That’s what happens, Mum,’ and report and block the offender as if it was simply a small spring-cleaning exercise. Not everyone would be feeling so strong at that moment.

The next day, I read posts from several authors on Facebook who’d received the sort of review of their books that went beyond an honest ‘not really my sort of novel’ comment. There is no need for spite and cruelty, but some people seem to relish any opportunity to diminish someone else. I don’t understand it. But there are so many kind reviews so many fair, clever words. Let’s not listen to a few voices who think they can shout loudest. They aren’t important – let’s not give them our ear. Let’s listen to the choirs, the harmonies, the good music.

We live in a world where there are wars, poverty, hunger, homeless people, global warming. There is enough anxiety and loneliness. Finding solutions isn’t easy, but we can be pleasant and reach out to others. Like the women’s football team I mentioned in the opening paragraph, someone in our team will have a bad moment in the game and fall over at some point and they’ll need our support to get up again. And we may not see it happen, so we need to provide positivity at all times. Isn’t that what humanity is about? We take turns at being up and down; we need to be there for each other during the hard times and we celebrate others’ successes as our own.

This blog post is to offer you all a smile, a hug and to say that we are all members of the same team. Let’s smile and laugh and cry together, help one another, take the opportunity to be nice.

Is there really another alternative?

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