Just One Thing 11.27.2014
My little girl, Beatrix, has many unique and endearing qualities. But, one of my favorites is this: With almost everyone she meets, she will notice and pick out one thing she likes and then tell them.
"I like your dress."
"That’s a pretty necklace you’re wearing"
"You have a nice smile."
"You are very handsome."
We are currently on a trip that is partly research for a future book and part vacation. Because of the sorts and frequency of encounters we have with people we have not met or only deal with in passing, I’ve had the occation to notice how much she does this. And I am always giddy at seeing the delight of these people, completely disarmed by the perceptiveness and charm of a six year old. One who always finds something nice to say about everyone.
She does this on her own and without prompting from either of us. It is not something we have explicitly or implicitly taught her to do. Nor does she see us do it with such frequentcy. Especially not with complete strangers or during transactional interactions (i.e store clerks, wait staff, etc.) as she almost always does. It’s just who she is.
It has occurred to me how much better everything might be if we all found one thing with everyone we meet and said something nice about it or them. Even (or especially) those times it is most hard to find something. For instance, someone we disagree with or someone we don’t particularly like.
It also has occurred to me that, in order to practice this regularly one must be fully present in their encounters. You can’t pay partial attention to the checkout person while rustling for your credit cards. You have to be fully present with them to notice the nice earrings they are wearing or the spectacular color of thier eyes. And, if you are more present with everyone you meet, you are also more present in that moment with yourself.
That said, I aim to take a lesson from my daughter and do so more often. Not just to make the world a bit better and someone else’s day a bit better but to at the same time make myself a bit better too.