I Have Plenty

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By: Lindsey Ungs, Certified Prevention Specialist

I have plenty. In fact, just to be clear about how much I have, I looked up my non-profit, part-time income (not including my spouse’s income) on the global rich list.  I’m in the top 1.8% of the richest people in the world by income.  Other than income, I have so much to be thankful for that my heart is overflowing. So to start this New Year, I’ve asked myself who I can give more to.  There are needs of all kinds surrounding us every minute of the day, from the coworker that needs surgery, to the student that is failing, to the family that can’t afford food.

One of the ways I plan to give is via my tongue. Everyone needs a compliment. Whether you are complimenting a highly acclaimed doctor, a lonely prisoner, or a struggling child, a specific compliment will always build someone up.  When I compliment others, I wind up feeling like I have “plenty”.

But why is it so difficult for us to compliment others?  In this very sarcastic and negative world, it can be a very vulnerable place to give a compliment to someone.  They could “bite” you back, leave you hanging, or they could make you think what you said was stupid or out of place. I would suggest that being vulnerable is worth it, but then again I’m a risk taker. The risk is worth the reward in my opinion. By being vulnerable enough to give a compliment you might see someone’s heart melt a little. You might see the sweet smile that crosses their face as the compliment sinks in. You might find a child who is willing to try again. The other benefit is that you get to think about that moment again and again. It’s like unwrapping a present each time you think about it. When you go to bed at night you get to reflect on the joy you handed someone that day.

If you ever want to try this for yourself, start by complimenting a child.  Too often children are dealing with far more than we imagine. These same children are often struggling at school and with friends and wind up hearing negative words at every turn.  That is the exact reason they need to hear something positive.  If all you ever hear are negative comments, you will consciously or subconsciously start to feel like those comments are true.  Many children in our community live with adverse childhood experiences (ACES). Substance use, divorce, abuse, violence, and other difficulties are literally changing the way children’s brains are forming from infancy on. Luckily, we are all capable of doing something. In this case it’s free, simple, and a benefit to you as well.

Want to make this a year of “plenty”?  Start by bringing joy to a child’s life with a simple compliment.  Cheers to making this year your year of plenty.