June first is a big day. Did you know it is “Say Something Nice” Day? It’s also Donut Day, World Milk Day, Go Barefoot Day, Leave the Office Earlier Day, and Fish and Chip Day.
It wouldn’t be hard to observe it all. Just order fish and chips, a donut, and a glass of milk for lunch, then leave the office early and spend the rest of the day barefoot. For many of us, it’s saying something nice that creates a challenge.
Say Something Nice Day began in Charleston, South Carolina, when the mayors of Charleston and North Charleston came together with church leaders to create a day to be kind to the special people in our lives. It can be a day to remember and celebrate people who provide us with a variety of services such as bus drivers, healthcare workers, and teachers. It’s also an opportunity to apologize to people we have wronged. The aim is to fight against unkindness, bullying, and the lack of politeness dominating society. Its creators hope this one day of pleasantness will grow until people are kind to each other every day. They hope parents will lead the way and set an example by encouraging their children to be nice to each other.
I’ve heard teachers say they can tell how children are spoken to at home by the words that come out of their mouths and the tone in which they are delivered. Like most parents, I could have done much better at encouraging my kids when they were little. Still could. But my heart felt warmed recently when my daughter told me a story about her two-and-a-half year-old, Linus. His little buddy was struggling to walk through some tall grass when she overheard Linus say, “Wow, you’re doing a great job!”
Linus was repeating the words and the tone he hears from his mom every day. He has no reason to choose any other sort. Lots of kids hear “the other sort” all too often, and sometimes to exclusion. Can they learn to say kind and encouraging words? Can YOU, if you were not blessed with this type of heritage?
Anything can be learned, with practice, at any age. But it won’t come easy.
The Bible says the tongue is the hardest force to tame. “It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire. A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that. By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it, smoke right from the pit of hell.” (James 3:5-6, The Message)
These days, we are more likely to say things through our written words on social media where our words—helpful or harmful—can be seen by the whole world. Permanently! I have a long way to go in this area. Caustic sarcasm is right there, especially when I’m miffed or not feeling good about myself in the moment. Jumping in to express a less than well thought-out opinion or to get a laugh can be so tempting.
On June first, let’s practice together, shall we? Kind and encouraging words only. And whether we succeed on that day or blow it, let’s start again on June second. And so on.
Maybe we could even reward ourselves with a donut!