As a young man, I met a girl who was beautiful but who lacked self-confidence. I could not understand that, but she explained it to me:
“No woman believes she is beautiful until she meets a man who makes her feel that she is.”
That was when I realized how powerful another person’s approval can be, and I also began to understand that many things can remain hidden below the surface. When someone looks as beautiful as this woman did it’s easy to assume that her feelings must match her looks, but what’s inside can be quite different.
Sometimes we only get glimpses of what a person holds within themselves and the conflicts that pull and push them. It’s at the moments when their hidden strong emotions leak out that we realise how important our words are, even the small and seemingly unimportant ones. The right words can make all the difference for someone if they hear them at the right time, the time when they most need to hear them.
We hold the keys to others’ happiness without knowing it, and with the right word at the right time, we can turn their weaknesses into strengths. I have written about this in my book 250 Laws of Love, so that we can all be stronger from within, and ready to share this strength with those we love.
Here are seven things we can say every day to help not just those we love but anyone.
1. “Thank you.”
My grandfather once gave me a pair of unfashionable, itchy, polyester trousers, and I threw them on the floor. I hated them! In my teenage rage, it didn’t occur to me that at some point whatever gift he might give would be the last one that he ever gave to me, but this was that time. He died the same month, and I still regret that I didn’t look him in the eye and say two simple words: THANK YOU.
Today, I thank everyone for their kindness. I am not thanking them for the gift, so much as for the thought that went into choosing it, and this goes for the gifts of thoughtfulness, concern, comment and suggestion, that people give me, and not just polyester trousers.
Anytime someone does you a kindness, however small, just thank them for it. You never know whether it might be the last chance you get.
2. “You can’t win every time but you can always learn.”
Life is like a jigsaw puzzle, and some of the pieces are cut out in very strange ways. Even so, they still belong in the puzzle of your life. If you were to throw away these ugly pieces and just keep the pretty ones, nothing would fit together. There would be gaps.
Every puzzle piece has its purpose, they are our strengths and weaknesses. The good and the bad both make up our uniqueness and individuality and though these difficult, ugly, trying bits are hard to get through at the time, they always teachers that we can survive and grow. Every experience, whether positive or negative can be useful in your life, and even if the only thing an experience teaches you is to avoid it at all costs in future, that was something worth learning.
3. “You’re good enough to love and respect yourself.”
How can you ever feel weak and unhappy when you’re part of the 10% of the world’s population which lives in luxury, the kind of luxury that means drinking-water flows out of your wall, electricity is available at the push of a button, food is available year-round and on your doorstep, and having a roof over your head is a matter of course?
You can and you do, and it’s because of the loneliness. Too often your environment gives you signals that tell you why you shouldn’t love and respect yourself, and the ways in which you are lacking as a person. This torments you because you can’t run away from such feelings. Wherever you go you take them with you.
You might turn to your friends, who you know can bring a bit of light and joy into your life, but they can never fill the darkness that you create for yourself. Yes, I said ‘for yourself’, because I believe that you don’t have to buy into the lie that you are incomplete. The media, social media, advertising; all of it is a circus that operates on the level of a school bully. The bully wants you to feel incomplete because then you’re more likely to buy into what the bully is selling.
I’m all for the affluent society that we live in. In some ways, our lives are easier now than they ever have been, but in other ways, they are harder. This new age of affluence has left many of us unable to cope with the constant reminders that we aren’t happy, we need to be happy, we can be happy if only we’ll buy this next thing which is guaranteed to make us happy.
It’s important for us to value ourselves and each other for the people that we are and not for the things that we have.
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