There's something I've been thinking about a lot lately, something that's been prodding me, gnawing at me, a challenge I'm about to issue to myself (and anyone reading this.) And it frightens me a little.
See, I'm not what you'd call an optimist. In fact, I'd describe myself (sadly) as a glass half empty kind of girl.
It's not one of my better traits, but I'm working on it.
It's easy for me to see the negative. In myself. In my body. In my situation. How many gifts and blessings have I failed to see because of that? Answer: too many.
We're a society that loves to complain. Have you ever noticed that? We're full of entitlement and when our feathers are ruffled, we ask to see the manager, demand our money back, write letters to local goverment officials detailing what went wrong and why it needs to be fixed. Are we wrong? Sometimes. It's easy to put a spin on something that's offended us or challenged us in some way. Sometimes not. Sometimes we receive bad service or there's a hair in our food.
But the question is in our intent.
Last week, we spent a lot of time at the doctor. Various doctors, in fact, because our five-year-old decided to stick a plastic bead in his ear. We had a really terrible experience at Immediate Care. It was wretched. It made all of us cry. It was hard to recover from.
It was tempting to complain to someone. Whoever was in charge. Someone ought to know what we went through. Listen to me! I have something to say!
But then we had an amazing ER doctor who did everything right. She was so good, in fact, that Sam is still talking about her. And she didn't even get the bead out! But we loved her. Because she did everything the way we wanted her to.
It wasn't until I received a survey from the hospital that I realized I hadn't told anyone there what a good experience we'd had in the ER, but I'd seriously contemplated letters and tyrades to Immediate Care outlining all they'd put us through. (It's not my style, so I didn't, but this is all about intent.)
I realized something about myself, about our culture. We are quick to point out other people's mistakes and slow to point out the good. Meaning, when things go well, we rarely pass along the compliment, but when things go badly, it's the first thing we do.
Why is that? Why is it so much easier to complain than it is to offer praise?
It's easy to ask for a manager in a restaurant when we have terrible service or bad food. But how often do we ask to see the manager just to tell them how wonderful those things were?
It's easy to call up a teacher and tell them about something they've done (or not done) that we don't agree with and demand they get it fixed, thank you very much, but does it cross our minds to send them a note saying, "Gosh, I'm thankful my son/daughter has you this year"?
Why is it so hard to choose kindness? To spread love? To assume the best? Why do we not think to pass on those compliments to the people supervising the hairdresser, the waitress, the teacher? In a world where good service is rare, shouldn't we make a point to express our gratitude when something goes well instead of always looking for ways to point out what went wrong?
So here's my challenge. For a week (longer if you can), look for ways to bless people through your words. Look for ways to extend grace, to offer praise, to pass along compliments. If you receive good service. If you haven't told your child's teacher yet this year. If a coach makes a hard decision--even one you don't necessarily agree with. Pass along the compliment. To them. To their supervisor. To your children. Choose to be kind.
Because kindness moves mountains. And negativity digs holes.