Spreading simple words of kindness
Feb. 8, 2016
by Jenni Sebora

I am on the Health and Wellness Committee at the school where I teach. Specifically, I am on the subcommittee of student wellness, which includes physical and emotional well-being – encouraging students to be moving, making healthy (at least relatively) eating decisions, as well as taking care of themselves mentally and emotionally.

This got me thinking.

My teenage daughter and a group of friends she sits with at lunch have started to share compliments, true compliments – “what I like about you” compliments with each other at lunch time, such as “I can tell you things and you listen and don’t pass judgement, at least before listening to my whole story.”

Some girls thought it cheesy, and others joined in.

I thought it was great. Sometimes we have to be very conscious, deliberate, and aware of engaging in such positive feedback, and not just the “no news is good news.”

Everybody needs to hear “good news” sometimes.

Those types of comments to each other can really boost someone’s mood and self-assurance, and we just don’t do it enough. Especially teenagers, and girls, in particular, who tend to pick at each other’s perceived negativities and don’t hand out compliments and appreciations nearly in the same dosage.

The last couple of years, I have started this same deliberate conscious activity.

I give each student a big sticky note to write their names on and then the sticky notes are passed around the group. Each day for about two weeks, each student must write something kind about the student whose name is on that particular sticky note.

We do this for two major reasons. For the giver, as well as the receiver.

Some students, as well as people in general, are more negative in their thoughts and words, so this practice forces people to think positive thoughts and pass out a kind thought to someone else.

We discuss that the words of affirmation and kindness should be specific.

It is easy to write, “You are nice.”

The giver must be more deliberate and thoughtful than that.

I explain, “Tell about a time when you saw them being ‘nice.’ This is a sincere affirmation.”

Dalai Lama said, “When we feel kindness toward others, it not only makes others feel loved and cared for, but it helps us also to develop inner happiness and peace.”

It is so much more fun to live with happiness and peace.

The sticky notes are placed on a wall where students can read them anytime. When someone needs a boost, he or she can go to the “giving wall,” find his or her sticky note, and read some encouraging words about themselves.

It is amazing what some simple words of praise, adoration, and kindness can do for your soul.

The cost of doing this is so low, but the gains are so plentiful. We should never take for granted that people know how much we appreciate them.

“Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but the echoes are truly endless.” – Marlene Dietrich

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