Get Shouty

The Power of Noticing
October 24, 2006, 6:46 am
Filed under: Get Friendly

 Sometimes doing research for my job I come across a piece of truth and beauty. One example is  this article “Kindness Counts”.

“It is vital that we use moments of kindness to help children learn how their behavior contributes to the welfare of others. Historically, we’ve done this very well with negative behaviors. We clearly specify what the child did wrong: “You have whined all week long: ‘It’s too hot,’ ‘The lines are too long.'” We share how it affects everyone: “You have made the vacation miserable for the entire family!” Then we add a tag line to drive it all home: “Are you happy now?” Yet, we toss off, “Thank you” or “Good job” when children are helpful.

The long-term impact of focusing on children’s negative behavior and how it affects others is apparent. It is one reason many of us are so clear about our own faults, undervalue our personal worth at times, and underestimate our value to others.

I give many presentations throughout the year to large audiences. Ninety-nine percent of their evaluations of my presentation are outstanding, but one or two attendees sometimes write a negative comment. I inevitably leave these sessions invalidating the positive comments and focus on the two negative ones. That is because like many of us, I have been systematically taught that my ineptness creates distress for others, and that my gifts simply benefit me. We devalue our strengths and helpfulness to others and punish ourselves internally over perceived mistakes.

By reversing this very powerful lesson, we can concretely teach the next generation the abstract values like kindness, helpfulness, and caring. These values are heralded by all major religions and spiritual traditions as essential skills that make a difference in the lives of others. Imagine a child growing up with internal guidance that says, “You are valuable, you make a difference, your gifts benefit others.” Noticing kind acts has the power to do just that.

Recent research shows that kindness counts in more ways than the obvious growth of morality. We are not meant to be completely independent nor dependent, but to give and receive in mutual interdependence. We all seek, on some level, to make a difference and live a life of purpose. As we give to others, we strengthen ourselves. As we receive from others, we allow them to grow. Every kind act, every contribution that we make, bathes our cells in a biochemical mixture of life-enhancing nutrients. The point is, being of service it is a biological necessity that is required for optimal brain development. Random acts of kindness foster the development of the higher centers of our brain.”

I love it for so many reasons, the most powerful for me today is as a result of a rant I indulged in over at CK’s blog. It’s just so easy to get really disspirited about the state of the world, but do we need a banner and a flag to wave to tell people about it? Sometimes definately.

Mostly I think that we just need to be kind to each other.
And notice each other.
And value the power we have inside of ourselves to make a difference- especially those who are blessed with the gift of being able to notice what’s going on in the world around us.


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“Mostly I think that we just need to be kind to each other. And notice each other.
And value the power we have inside of ourselves to make a difference- especially those who are blessed with the power of being able to notice what’s going on in the world around us.”

Pure poetry and spot-on. Brava. I loved your rant, but I wouldn’t call it that–’twas an insight. Generous because it’s advancing.

Btw, this reminds me of Paul’s post on how we needn’t scream–just get close enough to whisper. I think the “and notice one another” is what resonated with me most. It’s here if you’ve not yet caught it:

Comment by CK

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