In my daily life I aim to spread joy and happiness. Indeed, a small cartoon bluebird often sits chirping on my shoulder, metaphorically speaking. But, seriously, these days, when many people feel stressed and unappreciated, a word of praise or encouragement, or a simple thank you, can make all the difference to someone who really needs to hear it.
I am often in the town centre early on a Sunday morning and encounter the street cleaners who turn out to clear away the debris of a well-lived Saturday night. These guys pick up litter and unwanted kebabs, they clean up vomit – and sometimes blood – and make our streets spick and span again for the shoppers and tourists who’ll later be crowding the streets. I sometimes pass the time of day with these workers and thank them for doing a great job, a job that few of us would probably be willing to do week in, week out. I hope I’m not the only one.
I also know people whose Facebook pages are upbeat and cheerful, but who endure bouts of depression, self-doubt and unhappiness. They face a mighty struggle every day and on better days, just one small thing can be enough to get them through – even a pretty sunset can go a long way when you’re searching for hope or something joyful in your life.
How much better then is a kind word, an unexpected compliment or a thank you? Since we never know what difficulties lie behind other people’s behaviours, I’m all for giving people the benefit of the doubt. When you think about it, it’s not difficult to find something encouraging.
And, in case you think that’s all a bit pious and goody two-shoes, let me tell you that I am excluding the owner of the Dalmatian who, while her dog farted repeatedly and revoltingly throughout a recent pub quiz, failed to remove the animal from the scene of the crime. Not only was everyone squeezed into that tiny pub practically fainting from the horrific whiff, but the dog’s rear end was pressed up against my leg and, as I later discovered, initially everyone thought it was me.