Today’s newspaper was filled with the usual stories of random and senseless acts of violence. Stories of kind and beautiful actions don’t sell very well. But I still wear my old sweatshirt that proclaims, “Practice Random Acts of Kindness and Senseless Beauty.”
Years ago a colleague of mine, Claude Steiner, wrote a fairy tale about Warm Fuzzies and Cold Pricklies. Warm Fuzzies make people feel good; Cold Pricklies make people feel bad.
The story pointed out that as long as we believe we have an abundant supply of Warm Fuzzies, we share them freely. If we are tricked into believing that our supply of goodies is limited, we hoard them, and give out Cold Pricklies instead.
Steiner wanted us to realize that supplies of random kindness and senseless beauty are unlimited, and giving them away freely will not use them up.
Sadly, old habits are hard to break. Many of us are taught from childhood that only negative things are worthy of comment. Sharing and being kind is simply expected, but praising someone for doing it is discouraged, since it can lead to a “swelled head”.
If we do something “wrong,” Cold Pricklies are showered upon us to teach us never to do it again. These practices are continued at school, and in the world of work, where far more attention is available for what people do wrong than for positive behavior.
The media, of course, reinforces this practice. Far more space is allotted to negative events than to positive ones. The front sections of the newspapers are usually filled with reports of problems. Most positive feature stories (not news) appear in the later, less important, areas of the paper or at the end of the newscast.
Psychologists know that the behavior that is acknowledged is the behavior that gets repeated. WHAT YOU STROKE IS WHAT YOU GET! By acknowledging negative things with Cold Pricklies, we teach people to repeat negative behavior whenever they need attention﷓﷓and we all need attention.
Most people will seek out whatever attention is available; feeling cold and prickly is better than not feeling anything at all (up to a point).
Can practicing random acts of kindness and senseless beauty reverse this long standing trend? I’ve seen it work! The more Warm Fuzzies people receive, the more freely they tend to share their positive feelings with others. When random acts of kindness and senseless beauty are publicly acknowledged, they tend to proliferate.
Join me in a mini-campaign. Remember to both notice and create the very important little things that make a difference.
Is this you? “I don’t need therapy, but I could use some advice about…”
[tags]Personal Growth, Relationships, Self-Improvement, Transactional Analysis[/tags]