look for the good

I just found this while cleaning up some archived emails. I wrote it back in 2005 ...

I am all aglow this morning, having just spent 30 minutes over at the middle school with my son.

Each month, the teachers there are encouraged to nominate a student who quietly, day in and day out, makes the school a more positive and fulfilling place to be. These students receive an award for their leadership at a celebratory breakfast, which their parents also attend.

I think it's common knowledge that I'm a sap, so it will come as no surprise to hear that I always have to bring tissues to these things. It's very gratifying to hear that others recognize wonderful qualities in my son, but warm little tears were trickling down my cheeks long before it was his turn on stage.

What gets me is things like this:

A slouching, acne-afflicted teenage girl shyly straightens up and smiles as her teacher tells us story after story about her positive attitude and eagerness to help...

A tall and beautiful girl is recognized for her deep compassion and trustworthiness, rather than for her physical attractiveness and popularity...

A gangly snowboarder kid stands up there next to his choir teacher, hair all spiked up, pants halfway down his bottom, parents in the audience, and hears her tell us all that she witnessed him comforting a classmate who was crying outside the music room.

It just chokes me up. Few people passing this tough-looking kid on the street would have suspected that he had such a kind heart. (In fact, his teacher winked at us and told us to keep this info confidential, or it might ruin his reputation with his peers!)

so what's fresh in my mind is this: please, please, please make a huge effort to find something that you appreciate about your child, and tell him or her about it, EVERY SINGLE DAY.

and hey, while you're at it, why not do this with your mate, your coworkers and even yourself, too!

I could just see the wheels turning in those kids' heads up there - someone had noticed their inherent goodness and their positive action, and the recognition felt so good. And now, they want to do and be more of that. When we see the goodness in others, they usually try to prove us right by living up to it.

I'm not advocating shallow or manipulative praise, or suggesting that without external reward these kids would stop doing good deeds. I'm simply observing how nice it feels to notice and appreciate kindness, as well as to be noticed and appreciated for your kindness. And I'm wanting to remind us all of the magical power of our attention. Shine it like the sun on the things you want to grow!


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