The Fit Student—Nuzzling Noses

What if you spend months writing an A paper, but get an F?  What if, instead, when you saw your grade, your eyes blinking tears, a dove gently perches on your shoulder, startling you, nuzzling soft feathers against your neck?

I used to crumble with criticisms.  They crushed me, kept me small, snatched away my dreams of a math PhD.  A week or two ago, one new Voice writer wrote about pain stemming from others’ stomping her dreams.  I sympathized—deeply.

So, encourage others—always.  Weeks ago, I discovered that a barista wants to run a marathon.  So, I cheer her on—every chance.  I promised a gift, pointed out marathon apps, beg to hear about her gym routine.  I relish in her win.

Not only do I celebrate baristas, I befriend bank reps.  I phone banks for Christmas credit increases—and other fun stuff.  Whenever I hear friendly voices, I pass on praise to supervisors.  Even Timothy at dreadful Revenue Canada—of all places—got kudos for his kindness.

But sometimes I slip.  Sadly, we all do.

At my last visit to the optometrist, I bit my tongue.  I stopped myself from complaining about an optometry assistant.  She seemed off kilter, strange, unsure of herself.  I feared her.

Months later, when I returned, the assistant told me her name: Katrina.  So, I broke out singing “Walking on Sunshine” by Katrina and the Waves.  As we laughed, she turned on Spotify, and “Walking on Sunshine,” to our surprise, played.

I saw it as a sign.

At the end of the session, Katrina shared that I had been her first patient at that clinic.  Oh, first day jitters!  If I had complained, I could have crushed her spirit—at least lingered as a bad memory.  I vowed to withhold criticisms.   Besides, Katrina tests eyes like a Kimble A-student.

The moral?  Do less complaining, more cheerleading.  Cheering on others fends off foes.  I dreamed last night that FBI agents swarmed me, ready to pounce.  I crumpled, cowered, on the ground.  But a bunny hopped up and nuzzled my nose, followed by a kitten, and then a chipmunk.  Now I was ready for the FBI, a grin widening on my face.  We handle life’s worst easily with nuzzles and smiles.

Glenn R.  Schiraldi helps you build up yourself and others in his book The Resilience Workbook:

  • Act in ways that bring you and others happiness: “What we regularly think and do accounts for 40 percent of our happiness…. We can actually program the brain for happiness…”  (p.  98).
  • So, how should you act?
  • First, encourage others: “To waitresses … say, ‘Thanks for your help.’ … If service is especially good, tell the supervisor.  This makes three people feel good: the appreciated worker, the supervisor, and yourself” (p.  103).
  • Second, avoid criticizing yourself or others: “Difficult experiences, such as living with constant criticism, can change the way we view ourselves. Restoring … self-esteem then is an important part of the healing process” (p.  107).
  • Third, encourage yourself, build yourself up, heal yourself, with self-talk: “People with self-esteem talk to themselves differently than those who dislike themselves” (p. 114).
  • Fourth, “learn to love unconditionally. If you did not learn how to do this from you parents, you can still learn to unconditionally love yourself” (p.  109).
  • By doing all the above, you grow: “Growing … is the process of … elevating both self and others” (p.  109).

So, build up yourself and others.  Why?  For anything you say or do, one person can judge you favorably; the other, harshly—and both hold some truth.  So, choose the bunnies, kittens, and chipmunks walking on sunshine, nuzzling a nose.