Be of sound mind


RANDOM ACTS OF KINDNESS Small acts of kindness or self-compassion have a dramatic positive effect our mental, physical and social health – and they’re everywhere if you look for them.

Mental Matters

Jannah Walshe

We regularly hear about and talk about the ‘bad people’ in the world, for example, the robbers, abusers, internet trolls. We complain about political leaders, people who do us an injustice or family and friends that we don’t get on with. The news channels and online news feeds relay much of the negativity in the world and little of the good that is out there.
Without taking away from or lessening in any way the bad or difficult experiences that people encounter, sometimes it is worth stopping for a moment to take notice of the good around us in everyday life, so the bad does not overwhelm us or overly influence our perceptions of life.
Here in Ireland we have a phrase that is used to describe a person we consider a good person. We say ‘Sure aren’t they sound’ or ‘That was a really sound thing to do’. We also use it to say we’re happy to do something we’ve been asked to do, by responding with a simple ‘Sound’. Take a moment to think about the people in your life, and I’m sure you will be able to think of someone who you could describe as sound.
From my own life and drawing on my work as a counsellor I believe that most people are inherently sound, or good. Our basic nature is sound, and we operate as such. We help others when we can. We try to be kind. We do small acts everyday that make life a little easier for others. Things like making a cup of tea for someone, sending a text to say hi, letting someone ahead of you in the queue, walking your dog, buying the biscuits your partner likes, giving someone a lift, and so on, are all acts of pure soundness.
‘The Little Book of Sound’, coauthored by Niall ‘Bressie’ Breslin, is a pocket guide that shares ideas on how to use ‘being sound’ to help our minds and our society. The book grew out of last August’s successful #SoundEffect campaign, run by A Lust for Life and Pieta House.
The online campaign asked the nation to share examples of acts of soundness, no matter how small. The vision was to create a wave of positivity by getting people to use the social-media hashtag #SoundEffect to share their human stories, actions and gestures. The idea was not only to illustrate the overall soundness of the country, it was also designed bring people together positively, in a world that so often magnifies negativity and fear.
‘The Little Book of Sound’ takes this idea one step further, encouraging people to be sound to themselves as well as others. It includes a little bit of the science supporting how being sound to others and to ourselves has a huge positive impact on our mind, bodies and the world around us.
When we are nice to others, we feel good. When we are nice to ourselves, we feel good. It is well worth holding on to and growing our peculiarly Irish ability to be sound to others, and now ourselves.

‘The Little Book of Sound’ is available in most bookshops priced at €4.95, or online at

Jannah Walshe is a counsellor and psychotherapist based in Castlebar and Westport. A fully accredited member of The Irish Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, she can be contacted via, or at or 085 1372528.