Sometimes a kind word makes all the difference in our day. It makes me realize again how much power resides in a compliment, and in the same way that something hurtful drags us down, an encouraging statement lifts us up so we can soar. I'm really trying not to worry about all of the petty things that happen to me anymore. Life is short, and if we want to enjoy it as much as possible, we have to let go of the little annoyances and grievances.
We all hurt each other, but similarly we can all make each other feel better, if we will take the time to be kind to someone else. I didn't see this as a priority when I was younger, but now I see my need for it the way I require oxygen or water. I wish I hadn't wasted so much time being competitive with people instead of looking for ways to be supportive, but there is no sense wishing for time to go backward. I can only go forward.
I worry about what people might think when I offer encouragement, because as a culture it is relatively foreign to support one another instead of compete and try to get to the top of the heap, but I've decided to stop obsessing about what I can't control, and err on the side of niceness wherever possible. Others might think I have an ulterior motive, and sometimes the desire to be counter-culture is a deep-seeded motive, but it has to be better than the way I used to handle encouragement, which was to grit my teeth and be secretly choked that someone else was getting ahead of me.
Is it our North American society which sets up these ridiculous levels of competition, or is it certain personality types, or the fact that I am broken and if I was healthier I would've been able to be supportive of others all along? I find this cutthroat competition everywhere I look, and I want to opt out of participating in it. I want to stop striving to beat someone else, and instead carry out my own goals and plans alongside of what others are doing, and stop to encourage where I see a place for it.
Being genuine matters here. I know I wasn't authentic in the praise I would offer others for a number of years, because of all that was churning under the surface which I wouldn't dare show to anyone, friend or enemy. But now that I have a little more balance in my life, I want to practice being genuine in these interactions with others. Offering a kind word, telling my friends regularly how much I value and appreciate them, encouraging my husband and kids when they feel low, and simply keeping my eyes open for opportunities to spread kindness instead of competition.
Anything new takes practice in order to form a habit. It would be great to see this spread far and wide, a kindness revolution where people feel satisfied with their own lives and are therefore able to encourage others to pursue their dreams. We are not actually competing with each other. We are all trying our best to make it through life, hoping to stay healthy and build strong relationships, and leave something good behind when our time is up.
It's healthier to walk through life shoulder to shoulder with each other, and not in a hierarchy where someone is at the top, and someone else is at the bottom. I've tried that route and don't find it works very well, especially when it's your turn to be at the bottom. A kind word can change the entire flavour of your mood and your day, so giving that feeling to someone else whenever you can, over time, makes a big impact on your relationships.