I started thinking about this a couple of weeks ago when my friend Larry Lowe started the ball rolling on my Facebook wall with something he called R.A.P. That stands for Random Appreciation Post. Every couple of days Larry does a random post just to say “I appreciate you” to someone in his life.
It has become a contagious exercise. I started posting my own R.A.P. on Facebook and re-discovered a couple of things I knew but hadn’t thought about in years. First, these people are all positive influences in my life. And secondly, I’m a better person when I’m with them.
So how does that happen? How can simply being in the company of a friend make me a better person? It’s not like they knock on the door and hit you with some kind of zombie apocalypse mind meld that makes you want to be be better. It just happens because they are who they are.
So I wonder how can someone just ‘be’ and make your little part of the world a better place?
I’ve spent a considerable amount of time trying to figure this out. And I may have some insight. Every one of he people in my life that makes me a better person seems to have the following traits in common:
1. They are perpetually happy. Even on down days (yes, we all have them), they find something to focus on that makes them smile and the rest of the world seems to smile with them.
2. They treat everyone with respect. There is a difference between courtesy and respect. Courtesy, as they say, is common. Respect not so much. When you’re with these people you feel respected.
3. They lead by example, sort of. You will never hear one of these magical people say things like “it can’t be done”. And they don’t say “why don’t you try it and find out”. They say things like “let’s give it a try and see if we can make it work”. Their leadership style means standing by your side and not in front expecting you to follow.
4. They are positive thinkers but not in the traditional way people interpret that phrase. They don’t believe in absolutes, celebrating the positives and avoiding the negatives. It’s more like they look at things as they are realistically but choose to pay a little more attention to the good things, the small kindnesses, the small wonders in life. And they share those rather than the inevitable challenges.
I am blessed to have many people like this in my life. I won’t name them individually but you know who you are. And I spend as much time with them as I can because it just feels good to be with someone because you are a better person when you are.
And as always, something to make you think: “Keep your face to the sunshine and you can’t see a shadow” (Helen Keller)