Could you go an entire week without uttering one negative word to another? Not one criticism, sarcastic comment, or complaint? How would it affect yourself and those around you if you used your words to only speak praises to people? Life giving words. Edifying words. Sincere Compliments. Sincere words of appreciation and gratitude. Letting people know how you feel about them while you can, instead of keeping it to yourself and regretting not telling them later.
This was the concept behind “The Praise Project” that Tonya and I did this week. What is this “Praise Project” you ask? Click HERE to catch up if you missed Monday’s article on that, and click HERE to read how my friend Tonya did during her one week challenge if you missed Tuesday’s article. The goal was to spread a little love and sunshine around, with a hope that maybe it would positively effect general morale in the environments around us.
What were the things that were challenging for me?
- The first 2 days I kept forgetting about the project. I discovered it is difficult to be mindful of what you say 24/7! However, by Day 3-4 I was starting to form a new habit, and the mindfulness (or enhanced awareness) set in more.
- Of all weeks to do this, I had to pick election week! I didn’t think about that at the time. I tried being positive and complimentary to those around me on election day for example, but I don’t think it had an effect on my environment because everyone’s mind was elsewhere. I also noticed more tension, grumpiness, and negativity that day- but hey, what’s to be expected on such a big election where people are getting all tense as they wait to see who wins?
- There is always the challenge of other people’s attitudes. It can be difficult to be positive when those around you are using their words in a non life giving , non edifying way. Some people are very pessimistic by nature, and that was one challenge I knew would arise at some point during this project. I also knew potential conflicts could arise (which they did), and when that happens, let’s face it- it’s hard to want to say nothing but words of love back!
- Stress. Just day to day lack of sleep or stress can make a person a bit grumpy and not as apt to respond to the world around them in a chipper way. Our “stuff” can get in the way of our own attitudes or words.
So those were the challenges. So how did I do?
The first 2-3 days not so well. I caught myself slipping some. Either in the form of forgetting, or feeling down/out of sorts myself (throw in catching myself complaining some too). Also a couple times when others acted in a non loving way, I got caught up in wanting to be defensive, or ignore them, or even be sarcastic or grumpy back. Just being real! However, I caught myself pretty quickly and bit the bullet (even if I felt justified) and moved on to showing kindness to them instead.
While I didn’t notice any positive changes those first days, one interesting thing was that with the new mindfulness I had of the words we speak over people, I was more aware of not just my own words, but others’ as well. A couple of times I started to get caught up in the negative vibes going on by contributing, but then sat back as an observer and listened to the words around me. There was this snowball effect going on where if one person responded in a grumpy, annoyed, or even just a disinterested way, it sort of trickled down to the others as well. Before you know it, everyone in a room (myself included) starts getting caught up in this and it can change the mood. You may want to try observing words for a day or so yourself! It is really quite enlightening just how many complaints, criticisms, grumpies, gossip and what not you will hear around you or even -gasp! coming from yourself…
Kicking it up a Notch! What things did I do to spread some sunshine around and use my words to bless others?
- I started my own little Thanksgiving thing on Facebook, but with a twist. I kept seeing people post 1 thing they were grateful for each day. Instead of doing that, I brought up my friend list and starting clicking randomly on the names so I could write a comment of gratitude directly on their wall. I thought this would be nicer than posting my gratitude on my own status each day, because the person would have that on their own wall to save , and others can see it as well. I told each person what I appreciated about them, how grateful I was for them, and left a compliment too. i.e. “You are so funny and always make me laugh” or ” You are such a pretty , talented person and I am grateful for our friendship”. Ok , this may seem cheesy, but all of these compliments were 100% sincere and things I may think, but keep to myself out of feeling shy or awkward. Think about it- how often do we tell people the nice things we really think about them (like how pretty or smart or talented we think they are)? People love to hear it! It’s nice to share it with them while we can…
- I sent some notes of thanks with a compliment to a couple of people via email (one being my realtor’s secretary that is always so nice to me).
- I sent a couple of text messages out with a compliment or thanks. One was to my guy, telling him how he was strong and looking good with all the working out he’s been doing. (He responded back with a heart and a “you are prettier than me!” comment hahaha)
- Tried to make a few phone calls, but only was able to reach 2 people. I am much better at expressing my kind thoughts via writing (for the people I am not around as much), so that was a bit out of my comfort zone ( I can get shy or feel awkward to be “mushy” ) I told each of these people something that I appreciated that they have done for me, and also gave some encouragement/kudos to a friend who deserves it!
- My best friend Becky’s birthday happened to fall during this week, so I made a special birthday email for her called “What I Like About You”, with a list of 61 things I like about her (duh to the like part, since the title says it all! ) . 61 one things -one for each year of her life.
- I also made sure to leave nice comments on other bloggers posts (something I do anyways)
- Left a surprise note for each of my parents letting them know the things I appreciate about them and what I am grateful for (compliments included of course!)
All in all I felt I did a good job with the week long challenge I did. One thing that I do want to point out is that I went to an extreme here to see what I would learn from the experience and to make a point. It would not be practical or possible to NEVER let one negative word out of your mouth forevermore, because we are all flawed and imperfect! I for one believe in being your authentic self , and don’t think it’s good to be fake or not talk about stuff that bugs you, allow yourself to vent, etc.
However, what I did learn from this experiment is this:
- There is a right way and a wrong way to deal with conflict-we can still speak out of kindness and love even when confronting things or “talking it out”
- We are not in control of other peoples actions-only our own. We really can’t do much about it if the people we come in contact with are not giving off positive vibes or speaking words of kindness/love to us. What we can do though is be mindful of ourselves, and spread our own positive vibes around. If negative actions and words have a snowball effect on the mood of a room, then so do positive words and actions! Sometimes we may just have to be the ones to break the bad chain going by leading by example.
- Whether you think so or not, people NEED to hear words of encouragement more often. People have so much stress, hurts, self esteem issues, maybe they are lonely or having a bad day, etc..and our words have power! Power to build people up or make them feel badly about themselves. Even the people you know who can be “difficult”. Sometimes I think the most difficult people need to hear these things the most. You could totally make someone’s day (you know what they say-a little compliment goes a long way!)
- The best way to “give” is to give freely without any expectations or ulterior motives. In being selfless and not expecting any kind words in return-but giving freely to others with a heart of thanksgiving, you will see that it comes back to you.
Conclusion: I agree with what Tonya wrote on her experience this Tuesday. It may not have gone like a Disney movie where people started bursting in to song and dance all around me, but I know for a fact that it did make a difference. I received love and kindness back in the responses people wrote or in the nice conversations we had. And while the point was to make a difference to others, it made a difference in me as well. It just makes you FEEL good to spread love and gratitude around. Speaking positive words to others is healing and happiness producing to both giver and receiver. Think about it-How awesome would the world be if people reached out with words of love and praise to one another instead of in negative ways?
I used to do this stuff a lot more often, but as I said…we all get caught up in our own “stuff”. I am going to continue on with the gratitude and praise posting for the rest of November (on fb walls, emails, phone calls, etc) in honor of Thanksgiving. I didn’t have time to get around to everyone yet!
Are you up for the challenge? What are some ways that you spread a little love and light to those around you? Whose life can you make a little better today? You can leave your answers in the comments section at the website (below the article) start a discussion via email, or join our We Live Inspired! Facebook page and talk about it there.
*If you are a blogger who is interested in doing your own “praise project”, please provide a link back to one of the praise project posts at weliveinspired.com (in your post), or drop me a line so I can see what cool things you have done to spread some sunshine! I would also be honored to have you guest post your experience here if you would like to share what you did to spread joy to others. Just fill out the contact me form HERE if interested.