I’ve recently been obsessing over the British pop band One Direction. I just can’t stop listening to their music! Now don’t get me wrong, I haven’t been living under a rock. I’ve known about 1D for some time now, but if I’m being completely honest, I previously only paid attention to their looks (mmm…Zayn), and since Zayn is no longer a member of the band (#7monthswithoutZayn), his departure has given me an opportunity to focus on what really matters: their musicianship and lyrics. From “Perfect” and “Steal My Girl” to “What Makes You Beautiful” and “Moments,” these five (now four) talented guys have devoted five studio albums to serenading their screaming, swooning fans and professing their deep, passionate love. While most of these songs describe a romantic, requited love, “Diana” explores another, more important kind of love—a selfless, unconditional love. A love that promotes self-love.
What happens when you don’t recognize your beauty or talents or value? What happens when you feel hopeless and listless? “Diana” doesn’t answer those questions per se, but it does raise important ideas that link directly to one’s mental health and overall well-being. In beautiful harmonic symphony, the boys sing: “You’ve been lonely, you don’t even know me/ But I can feel you crying/ Diana, let me be the one to/ Lift your heart up and save your life/ I don’t think you even realize/ Baby you’ll be saving mine.” Sometimes we get so consumed by our lives and what we have going on that we forget about the millions of people who are facing their own physical, mental, emotional, and social battles every single day, and oftentimes alone. They’re angry, depressed, withdrawn. Sometimes they mask their feelings so it’s difficult or even impossible to recognize what’s really going on. That’s why it’s so important to step out of our shells, out of our selfishness, and pay attention to how other people are feeling. Check in. Often.
Ask someone how they’re doing, and really mean it. How many times have you asked someone how they’re doing and actually meant it? How many times have you sat down and really listened to your friend, colleague, family member, or even a stranger express themselves deeply, wholly, and unapologetically? Allow people the opportunity to tell their truth—as ugly and difficult as it might be—and assure them that you love them anyway.
Give free hugs (with consent, of course). We underestimate the power of an embrace. Whether or not someone looks down and out, hugs provide an unimaginable, indescribable amount of comfort and relief.
Celebrate the small moments. Sometimes when we think of good days, we have this lofty, unobtainable vision. We put pressure on ourselves and our lives to make perfect days come true, but feel like bigger failures when the reality doesn’t live up to the dream. Instead of quantifying or qualifying great moments, acknowledge them all. Whether it’s that you arrived to your destination on time, got an A on an assignment you worked really hard on, or that you made it through the day without crying, celebrate every small and large moment.
Be gentle with yourself and others. Writer Wendy Mass coined the now popular phrase “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.” Regardless of background and perception, everyone is riding the roller coaster of life. There are good days and bad days, cheerful days and sad days, and every other type of day in between. Don’t beat yourself up for those highs and lows, and don’t dismiss or judge others for feeling the same. Be gentle and patient.
It’s impossible to predict exactly how our words and actions impact others, but trust and believe that they do. Like 1D says, you just might save someone from feeling abnormal, despised, unworthy, etc. Do yourself and someone else a favor, check in.