Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Power of One.

At my daughter's school, they have a program called "The power of one." It is a program designed to show the kids what one person can do to make the world a better place. It is a good program and I really like it.

I was thinking about the power of one today as I was driving to work. But not in a good way. I was thinking about how one off-handed comment or one short remark can have the power to make our day miserable. Or how one small gesture can make our day great.

Think about that.

Say you are driving to work and in a hurry and someone cuts you off and perhaps gives you the finger. How does that make you feel? Certainly not good. It may have only lasted for less than a moment of your day, yet it has the power to cloud the other 23.99 hours. Amazing. What power! And you will most likely never encounter this person again the rest of your life.

Emotions are powerful. One gesture, one comment, one look can send us reeling. It really is the power of one.

But on the flip side, a kind gesture from a stranger can brighten our day. Good things can come from that power as well.

Think about how much time you dwell on things that happened in a moment past. Much of it is not even really about us. Someone else was having a bad day and we just got caught in the crossfire.

I have met people who are still not talking to a friend or relative because of a moment like that. A moment of nonsense and then a decade of divide. Most cannot even remember the incident. They just know that it caused a fission that has never mended. One moment. What power.

I think about moments a lot. Since I deal with the dying, I realize that anything I say or do at that time in someones's life will be remembered by the family, perhaps forever. That one moment has so much potential for either disaster or for comfort. It is daunting to even think about at times. I tread lightly. I speak thoughtfully. I am careful. I am never flippant.

But even I can make mistakes. And I have. And so have you.

We are only human. We all have bad days. It happens. We think, well, it was just a moment. It will pass. They will never remember. They will get over it.

Maybe so. But many times, maybe not.

I am always astonished at what adult children tell me about their parents. The small moments when something was said that stayed with that child forever. An innocent comment that had a long lasting effect. I usually think, "Uh-oh, what have I said lately to my own daughter."

Innocent jokes at the expense of others also have a lot of power. We may think they are funny, and the person to whom it was directed to may have laughed initially. But after it was over, they may have thought more about the cruelness of the joke. And that small moment may have caused more harm than anyone ever intended.

I know, some will say, people should just toughen up.

But most of us are not very tough at all. We may get hard, but that is different from being tough. Most of us are hurt by these things. It affects us. Even when we know that the person did not really mean it.

So, think about the power of one. That one comment, that one gesture, that one look. Think about how it can make or break someone's day. Perhaps even someone's life.

If you want to do good, use that power to do so. Hold open a door for a stranger. Tell someone standing in line that they look like they are in a hurry and let them cut in front of you. Send a lovely card that says, "I am thinking of you" to a friend or relative that you have not seen in a long time. Tell a co-worker how much you like working with them. Tell your kid that you think they are really neat and that you are so lucky to be their parent. Tell your spouse he looks handsome in that shirt. Let a stranger know that you love their outfit or their hairstyle. Tell a parent at the playground that their child seems like a really happy, nice kid. Pet someone's dog (after asking if it is okay) and say, "Wow, nice dog." Smile at people. Acknowledge them.

And then watch the smile creep over their face. Watch them look amazed that they were given a random compliment. Know that it will make them feel good about themselves most of the day, even though they may appear skeptical at first.

Think about how much power you have.

The power of one.

“Handle them carefully, for words have more power than atom bombs.”
~~~Pearl Strachan Hurd

"Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless."
~~~Mother Teresa

“A bad word whispered will echo a hundred miles”
~~~Chinese Proverbs

1 comment:

  1. I needed this post today. Thanks.