August 27, 2018

The Incredible Power of Positive Affirmation To Change Lives


Affirmation is very powerful. We know how good it feels to be affirmed by someone for something we have done or said. The person affirming us is making a statement about our worth or competence.

I have a friend who is a world class affirmer. He can find something to praise  about anyone at any time. Importantly, he is completely sincere. He doesn't say something just to make the other person feel good, but because he truly believes the affirmation he is offering.

He got me thinking about the amazing power of positive affirmation and how easy it is to make someone else's day. I try to emulate his example whenever I can. I will be the first to admit I have been a poor affirmer in the past. My family sometimes jokes that my empathy was removed at birth. But, I have been working on getting better. Trust me, if I can do it, anyone can do it.


Adding Positive Affirmation to Your Day


I happened to be at our neighborhood park not too long ago, walking our dog, Bailey. It is a large, busy park and usually very clean. I wandered by one of the fellows who was emptying a trash can and straightening a picnic table. I remarked how well maintained the park is and we appreciate his efforts. The smile I received in return was as bight as the noon day sun. You would have thought I'd given him a winning lottery ticket. A simple heartfelt comment cost me 5 seconds but probably made his day. I imagine a park worker rarely gets complimented, but for a job well done, why not?

Engaging in pleasant conversation with a checkout clerk is another way to affirm someone who rarely gets that type of positive stroke. Rather than treating that person as invisible, say something pleasant or compliment the store's selection or.... it almost doesn't matter. Being treated like a fellow human being by acknowledging his or her presence in a positive way is painless  and has tremendous power.

Betty and I will go out of our way to interact with a particular clerk at the grocery store we frequent. Even if another line is shorter we will almost always spend the extra time, just because it seems to make her day. We are on a first name basis with each other. She tells us about her problems while we share ours. She enjoys bantering with me as I give her a tough time about almost everything. She beams when she sees us each week and always says she will see us next week. Besides affirming her, we enjoy our time with her each week.

Of the hundreds of people each day who watch her ring up their food purchases, can you imagine how good she would feel about her job if even a few dozen of those customers talked with her and complimented her with a simple "thank you" and wished her well? 

Have you ever said something to the person who picks up your trash? If I am outside when the truck comes by I make it a point to simply smile and salute the driver with a quick wave of my hand. A library worker who is re-shelving books deserves a quick thanks for how well the library is run or how glad you are that the book you placed on hold is available.

One of the worst jobs has to be an office worker or receptionist in a doctor's office. All day long they deal with people who are sick or in pain. They have to hear horror stories about insurance companies and rising premiums. Of course, it isn't their fault. Treat them with respect as professionals doing the best they can in a broken system. Heavens, even many doctors would benefit from a little affirmation. They didn't design the system that forces them to see 10 patients an hour just to stay in business.

It comes with different names, like random acts of kindness. But, in its simplest form it is treating another person the way you'd want to be treated. Affirmation and recognition of a job well done are powerful weapons in the war against incivility.

Our society needs all the warriors we can muster in this battle. Maybe a dedication to positive affirmation is one way each of us can make our world a little more pleasant for everyone.



How's this for an affirmation: to my darling, love of my life, two months ago we celebrated 42 years of marriage. I have never been happier or more convinced that we are so very good together.

I love you, Betty.




25 comments:

  1. I guess I do this. However, I never think about thinking about it or doing it. I just do it. When I taught GED, these people needed daily affirmations. People sat up straighter and actually worked looking less stressed.

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    1. Doing it without thinking about it shows a nicely developed sense of affirmation and support.

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  2. Another thing I love to do is pay for something unexpected. A bit different, but the same. Our Christian radio station encourages people to look at the car behind you and think about buying their meal. Last week there was a man counting out ones for his daughter's school clothes. The total has been said out loud. I could afford it. I slipped in my card and said this was in exchange for working hard in school. I don't know who was shocked more- the man or the clerk. The kid was ecstatic.
    Cold water bottles to the Post man, construction sign holders and Garbage men given on extra hot days. Making eye contact with clerks (the ones who want it) and thank them for their help. Housekeepers at hotels, people wrangling children, dockers at the grocery everyone could use a verbal high- five. My day goes better when I thank them.
    Thank you Bob for writing a great blog that I come to and remind myself that I am normal and human :)

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    1. Paying for the car behind you in the drive-through or at the checkout counter is something I have always thought about but never done. I guess I have been worried about embarrassing the person in line. But, the way you turned the payment into a reward for the little girl was brilliant. You have inspired me to give it a try.

      Thank you for the nice affirmation about the blog, too!

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  3. Love this post! Little affirmations can definitely make someone else's day. But, on another note, when I do affirm someone else....it makes my day as I see their smile. So, I see it as a win-win....as long as I am sincere. To me, I am repaying all the times people took the time to affirm me when I was working.

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    1. That's a great way to look at it. Also, this is a reminder that affirmation rarely involves money. Rather, simple recognition, a smile, and a thank you are all that is needed.

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  4. i decided to "camouflage" all my wrinkles by keeping a smile on my face. LOL...people smile back and I've been told my "wrinkle camouflage" has brightened a day or two.
    Yes, positive affirmation can be powerful and a wonderful connection with the human race. It transcends language barriers and ethnic cautions.
    On an entirely different note, condolences to Arizona for the loss of Senator John McCain. Though I have different political stances, I admired his integrity, incredible courage, and big view of our nation and its position in the world. He is/was a true patriot and war hero.
    Charlene H

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    1. I like the wrinkle camouflage phrase...perfect!

      Yes, John McCain loved country above all else, including party, which is very rare today. I didn't agree with many of his political views, except his thumb down vote to protect Obamacare. He was a hero and is worthy of our respect. His beloved ranch is about 2 hours north of us...we have driven by the entrance road before and felt a connection to him then.

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  5. I'm an expat living overseas. I made a real effort to talk to and sometimes compliment the women working in the grocery stores I frequent. Now they greet me when they see me and wish me a good day. Great way to 'feel at home' in another country...

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    1. Absolutely, Lynn. You are making 2 people happy: them and you.

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  6. Sometimes I'm all in my head, even when I'm out in public, and pay no attention to anyone else. But, when I do, like at the grocery store or on my walk, it makes me feel better. Sometimes the simplest smile and kind word can make someone else's day better, too. It's not hard to do! Congratulations on your 42nd anniversary! We're coming up on our 50th in Oct. That seems impossible to me because, I'm just not old enough for that! ;)
    b

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    1. I remember the time before marriage but it seems to be part of a different lifetime.

      Yep...the biggest problem with gratitude and affirmation is just remembering to do it.

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  7. Thanks for the reminder that treating "a fellow human being by acknowledging his or her presence in a positive way is painless and has tremendous power." Most of us mean to do it; but in the rush of daily life we often forget or just don't bother. But in reality, this is often the best 5 seconds of our day.

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  8. Great reminder. I try to make a point to acknowledge the efforts of others. The cashier at the grocery store the other day seemed nervous and confided to me that it was her first day. I told her that I could not tell that at all, that she was doing a great job. I stopped a supervisor on my way out to compliment her. Like you said, it cost me a few extra seconds, but it made a difference to her. It's so easy to say thank you, to notice something specific to compliment, or in some way acknowledge someone.

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    1. It takes so little time, doesn't it. I am sure you made that cashier's day.

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  9. I would put a plug in for self-affirmation as well. Too often we play negative tapes in our minds and we need to be our own best friend as well.

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  10. This was a lovely post, Bob, made even better by the very last paragraph. Congratulations to you and Betty for sustaining such a rich relationship for over four decades!

    It seems to me that common courtesy, respect for others and positive attitudes are all missing to a great extent in today's society. I won't go so far as to call it a personal mission, but Alan and I do make it a point to engage store clerks in conversation, wish people a good day and compliment the people who make our days better by providing good service and a friendly attitude. We have happily asked to speak to managers in both restaurants and service/repair stations so that we may compliment a staff member in front of the very person who should be made aware of a particular employee's contribution to the company. To the same end, I'll often write a letter or take the time to respond to a survey on a receipt in order to compliment outstanding service.

    Many of us are quick to complain when things don't go our way, so why shouldn't we extend our gratitude and compliments when they do? As previous commenters have pointed out, positive affirmations result in brighter days all the way around!

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    1. You are summarized things well, Mary. Just a quick example of how easy it is to be nice to someone else, I just returned from some shopping errands. I noticed a car driving toward me with a big, pink, trash bag stuck to the front of the car. Of course, something like that could cause a car to overheat.

      I flagged him down and asked if he knew he had a pink bag stuck to his grill. He was quite happy when I offered to pull it off and throw it away. It took me 20 seconds.

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    2. Can you imagine what a wonderful world this would be if everyone acted with kindness like that?!

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  11. A great reminder. I've told myself that especially now in retirement I do have the time. I am very conscious with clerks and store personnel and try to smile and thank them or engage in a conversation in the store if it's empty. And you're right, I do feel better after that.

    I appreciate your example from the park - being specific. I always disliked a generic "great job" comment. This gave me a concrete example of how to make appreciation specific! Thanks for that. :-)

    And happy anniversary!

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    1. We are on our way this morning to the airport for a week in Portland. Can I smile at the TSA agent who wants me to remove parts of my clothing?

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  12. It is not part of my natural inclination to automatically offer positive affirmations to people; criticism or suggestions about something additional to be done come first to mind. (And I am equally self critical.) But I have worked really hard to change this habit because of how it makes people feel, and now I intentionally strive to give positive and authentic feedback.

    On the other hand, by inclination, I notice and acknowledge people, including those whom many seem to consider “invisible” - the server refilling a glass, the person sweeping the sidewalk, the security person directing crowds, hotel housekeeping staff, the homeless person. Eye contact, a smile, and maybe a nod. One human recognizing another.

    Jude

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