7. Tell people how you feel about them: For some reason, we hold compliments sacred, as if by giving out too many, we will somehow exhaust our resources and we will suck away at the amount of compliments available to us, and so we just don’t share them. It’s like the supply of velvet Elvis paintings–only so many were created, so whoever holds one must protect it. But, conversation, language, written words are not velvet Elvis paintings–language is infinite. We could talk, write, and spread language our whole entire day and still never run out of words (and, the great thing is, words cost no money). So, when someone wears something you think is cute, tell them. When someone says some you think is poetic, tell them. When someone does something that impresses you, tell them. Spread the love through compliments. Tell people how you feel.
6. Use positive language: In Maseru Emoto’s Japanese Water Study, the goal was to look at how positive and negative energies impact Human Consciousness. Emoto took pieces of paper and wrote either positive words (peace, love) or negative words (you fool, you make me sick), and then froze water around those slips of paper. In his results, he found that those with the positive phrases evolved into beautiful, ornate, unique water crystals, while those with negative phrases froze in chaos, disorder, and ambiguity. Thus, words matter.
In our speech with others, saying, “Don’t hunch your shoulders” could be easily rephrased as, “Pull your shoulders back”. Or, “Stop throwing the ball inside” could easily be rephrased as, “Please take the ball outside”. Or, “Don’t sing that song” could be said as, “I like it when you hum!” If, like Emoto suggests, the language we use emotes back into our collective human consciousness, then don’t we want that bubble to be as positive as possible, so that our thoughts are also beautiful, ornate, and unique?
5. Model the change you want to complain about: What I’ve learned about people is, when you plan a social gathering (unless it is a wedding), no one R.S.V.P’s until the last minute because usually, they are waiting to see if something better pops up on the calendar. Hey, I’m totally guilty of this too. Or, there is the situation when we are driving, and the person next to us doesn’t use a blinker and swerves into our lane, causing us to use our brakes, in what we perceive might “make us late for work”. Perhaps you met a guy, went out on a couple of dates, thought things were going relatively well, and then one day, you stop hearing from him, and you spend the rest of your weekend, complaining to your friends about what a P.O.S he is.
In all of these situations, we have the power to ensure we do not do the same things to other people that we say bother us. Sometimes, it certainly is about perspective–perhaps we thought we R.S.V.Ped to that party and we realized we never actually sent the message, or perhaps we though we turned on our blinker, but it turns out we are out of blinker fluid (in which case is another circumstance to practice understanding and offering forgiveness). But, if we are aware of the choices we are making, and how those choices might have one time impacted us, then we can make our best efforts to make sure we are not impacting others in that same way. If I know how frustrating it is to not get an R.S.V.P (because you aren’t sure how much chip dip to buy), then I can be diligent about making sure I R.S.V.P when I am invited somewhere. If I know how scary it is when someone changes lanes without signaling, then I can make an effort to make sure I am always signaling my intentions. Or, if I know how harboring it is to be ghosted, then I can try my best to make sure that I am always being honest and timely with someone I’m potentially dating.
4. Celebrate the goodness in people: We live in a world where there are certainly bad things happening all around us, but we also live in a world where good things happen as well. After the Brussels attack, I found myself so entrenched in the hour by hour, minute by minute coverage that I made myself sick. I began asking myself, “How is it serving me to constantly update and refresh my news pages?” The media knows exactly how to manipulate us. The media knows how to create fantastical and urgent headlines, where to post the most “up to date” information so that we keep going back for more views, and more advertising revenue. While I do believe it is important to stay up to date with current events, I had to ask myself, “How is stalking all of the victims repeatedly, waiting for more information to come out, and reading all of the various accounts of the event, anticipating a more devastating story than the last, and watching speculative news stories where no truth is actually given, serve me?”
Instead, I’d rather pour my energy into celebrating the goodness in other people, which can be as simple as a mere observation. On a day when I am exhausted, emotionally spent, and feeling rather introverted, celebrating the goodness in other people might just mean noticing the joy in other people–the dad who nestles both of his daughters on his lap during the presentation, the musician that is jamming out on her keyboard during worship at church, the dog that is so happy to be chasing the rabbit.
3. Approach conflict with love: Whenever I am mad at someone about something, I always have an impulse to fire back a mean text message, give them a quick jab in conversation, or be passive aggressive about my language. But, my dad always said, “don’t solve conflict when you are mad”. When I actually dissect the root of why I am mad, I usually find that it is some kind of personal wound, character flaw, or projected insecurity onto the self that has nothing to do with the person, and everything to do with me, and usually, the conflict with the person goes away because I know it is an issue that I have control within myself to resolve. Right, even the conflict of, “You don’t talk to me enough” has less to do with the other person, and more to do with your feelings of invalidation, feeling small, not feeling important. Maybe they don’t call you enough, but there are certainly things you, yourself, have control over to solve that conflict.
2. Be receptive: In yoga, we practice asteya–non stealing. Of course, non stealing certainly means physical things, like don’t steal someone else’s clothes or money, but non stealing also refers to stealing other people’s time, space, energy, happiness, peace. In school, in our churches, on our teams, in our families, we are taught the importance of charity, service work, and giving back to others, but we are often not taught the equally as important trait of being receptive when others want to give back to us. This could be in the form of a physical gift, a compliment, an act of service, an apology. I like to believe that I am a giving person, and if we follow the principle of ‘birds like a feather flock together’, then I would assume that those around me are also giving people, and if I refuse their gift, shut down their compliment, not accept their act of service, avoid their apology, then I, too, am stealing from their peace, their own internal needs. So, if I am going to lead with love, then I have to learn how to be receptive of love from other people.
1. Practice Self Love: Especially as women, when we talk about ourselves, it is often with such negativity: “I wish my legs were longer so that I didn’t have to hem my pants all the time”, “I’m really mad at myself for eating that extra French fry at dinner”, “I’m so dumb, I can’t believe I forgot to close the windows before it rained”. While we may be great at offering others compliments, and serving others, we often times suck at loving ourselves. But, above all else, if I am going to lead with love, then I first must start with the self, and I must practice self love–offering myself compliments when I think I’ve done something well, thinking in positive language about myself, allowing myself understanding and forgiveness when I think I have slipped up, because leading with love starts with the self.