We are all editors. Daily we walk around and edit what we say. We think about what will go over best or what might be offensive, and those evaluations, and others like them, dictate how we speak. Generally, the old rule, “Unless you have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all,” is the filter through which we run our speech through—or should at least.
But I’ve noticed another type of editing that goes on by my little brain-publicist. It often keeps me from saying a kind thing because the receiver would think I am weak or creepy or nosy or whatever else. Seriously, several times a day I catch myself internally being like Michael Scott from the television show The Office:
Michael: I would never say this to her face, but she is a wonderful person and a gifted artist.
Oscar: What? Why wouldn’t you say that to her face?
It is staggering the number of times I see someone with a good-looking new haircut, a great smile, an infectious laugh, or any number of other joy-producing things, and I just walk on by them, looking down at the floor and trying to avoid being a “suck-up” or “too kind” or “weird” or whatever.
This is tragically silly.
We always use the term “brutally honest,” but what if we committed to using another term? What if instead of being “brutally honest” we were “fantastically honest” or “encouragingly honest” or “winsomely honest”? What if I don’t pass by the good I see in passersby, but instead notice that good and compliment them on it before strolling away?
Sure, they may deem me weird or nosy or whatever else, but I also know that I have never received a compliment I didn’t like. Never have I scolded someone for being too encouraging in my life. When someone says they love my shoes—and I sense they really mean it—I notice I walk a little lighter on those particular shoes. When someone says it is great to see me smile, I smile all the more. When I’m told I have a friendly way with people, I find myself attempting friendliness. Encouragement somehow makes me feel an increased gratitude about what I have in my life. It makes me so much less worried about what others people think and seeking their approval because they freely, in their compliments, admit that I already have their approval. I can just be me and that’s okay with them! The technical breakdown of the very word “encourage” itself is to put courage inside someone! How nuts is that? Someone can actually put a sense of courage inside of me through their kindness!
So why don’t I give that to others? What makes me a behind-the-back-boaster when it comes to other people?
Whatever it is, it needs to stop. I’m going to go tell a friend he has a great sense of humor; he does, and I’ve never told him before! I’m going to make sure to remind my wife how much she inspires me. I’m going to appreciate those around me unabashedly in whatever ways I can, and imagine my world as it takes shape when all those around me have courage—a courage that I helped them to grasp and then to give! Now, that is a better world, and now to start living in it . . .