Anxiety. Depression. Mood disorders. Those are just three of the types of mental health issues. People suffering from them show signs of excessive paranoia, sadness, changes in moods, and social withdrawal.
Issues with mental health played out on big stages in the last few months, especially in the world of sports. Tennis star, Naomi Osaka dropped out of the French Open, in May, after stating she would not conduct interviews with the press. She said the interviews were stressful and she was concerned her mental health was at stake. Osaka decided not to compete at Wimbledon for the same reason.
Gymnastics legend Simone Biles dropped out of four of her scheduled competitions at the recent Tokyo Olympics. She said she wasn’t ready to compete. Biles was afraid that going on in her mental state could cause a major injury.
The words used in response to these champion athletes and their decisions were harsh. ‘They lack mental toughness.’ ‘She’s soft’ was another phrase frequently heard.
In many of these situations, it’s so easy to show kindness and be sympathetic, but it rarely occurs. I came across the following story of kindness, told by rock star Alice Cooper, about other music legends, John Lennon and Brian Wilson.
“I was sitting backstage after the 1974 Grammys with Bernie Taupin (Elton John’s lyricist) and John Lennon. This was when Brian was really having some mental issues. During the course of the conversation, I kept seeing Brian out of the corner of my eye, just kind of staring at us from different angles.”
“Finally, he came up to the table, bent down and whispered in my ear ‘Hey Alice, introduce me to John Lennon.’ I couldn’t BELIEVE that these two men had never met! They were virtually neck and neck in the 60’s as the greatest bands on the planet, and I’m SURE they must have crossed paths at some point. But then I thought to myself, ‘Wow, if they REALLY have never met, I’m going to be the one to introduce them and become a part of rock history!’”
“So I merely said, ‘Brian Wilson, this is John Lennon. John Lennon, this is Brian Wilson.’ Lennon was very cordial and polite, saying things like ‘Hello Brian, I’ve always wanted to meet you. I’ve always admired your work, and Paul and I considered Pet Sounds one of the best albums ever made.’ Brian thanked him and walked away, at which point Lennon went right back to his conversation like nothing had happened.”
“About ten minutes later, Brian came by our table again, leaned down and whispered something to Bernie, and all of a sudden, Bernie was saying ‘Brian Wilson, this is John Lennon. John Lennon, Brian Wilson.’ Lennon was just as cordial and polite as the first time, saying essentially the same thing about always wanting to meet him. As soon as Brian walked away, John looked at both of us and casually said in his typical Liverpudlian accent, ‘I’ve met him hundreds of times. He’s not well, you know.’”
While ‘you never know what another person is going through’ and ‘it’s easy to be kind’ are cliches, they still are true. The next time you encounter a situation like Osaka, Biles or more likely someone in your life, remember how John Lennon treated Brian Wilson.
It truly is easy to be kind,
Related Post: I tried to take a mental health day…and failed.
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