Work ran late, getting me to the childcare center after closing. The scowls from the staff did nothing to assuage my stress. I stuffed two grouchy toddlers into winter gear and buckled them in their car seats. Love those car seats—the boys could kick and shout all they wanted, but I knew they were secure. The snow was piling up; clearly I was not going to the grocery store on the way home as I had planned. The dreaded drive-thru was calling my name.
Ordering at a faceless box, with the little one crying and the older one yelling that he wants his brother to hush, pulled up to the window and pushed some money through without paying much attention. Reaching for the bag of food, I barely glanced at the worker. I thought I was hearing things when she said, “Oh, that’s a beautiful scarf! Did you knit it? I want to learn how to knit.”
It was a passing moment many years ago, but I still remember it clearly. There were many other drives home in snowstorms, many rounds of restless children, late work, and countless other challenges. But that simple comment about my scarf changed that day. I made eye contact with the young lady. We smiled. I sang along with the radio all the way home. The kids were still having a bad day, but it rolled off me like water off a duck’s feathers.
June 1 is Say Something Nice Day. It says so on a calendar of holidays and recognition days. That’s a nice sentiment. Saying nice things can make you feel good and inspire kindness. But more importantly, people need to hear something nice every day—not the cliché just “Have a nice day,” but a thought that is shared with sincerity, with eye contact, perhaps even a smile.
If you have gotten out of the habit of saying nice things to students, coworkers, friends, family, and strangers, why not use Say Something Nice Day to get back into it. If you’re already pretty good at saying something nice, take this opportunity to do it even more. Compliments are fine, but a shared thought that connects you, if only for a passing moment, may be even better. Notice the little things. Show that you are paying attention. Smile, look at someone, and try some of these on for size:
- Will you show me how to do that?
- Your laugh always makes me smile.
- Look how excited you are, you can hardly hold still!
- That book you recommended was great.
- That was hard, but how cool that you did it anyway.
- Let’s have lunch on Friday.
- This is going to be fun.
- Oh, sweet—you drew a bee on that flower!
- Thank you.
- I like grasshoppers, too.
Make sure the people in your life get a chance to hear something that connects them to you, to their work, or to the people who mean a lot to them. Make every day Say Something Nice Day.
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