When I was young, my mom taught me this wise saying: “If you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say anything at all.” I have tried to abide by this and have taught it to my children. It’s a good rule to follow. I have a new one to add to it: “If you have something good to say, say it.” Never make something up or in any way say something insincere, but if you can honestly bless someone by saying something nice, do it. Life is hard and a few kind words don’t cost anything, but have a whole lot of worth.
A dear friend who just lost her father told me that he had told her, two weeks prior to his death, that she was “such a good mother,” with emphasis on the word “such.” She cried when she told me this because it meant so much to be validated in her most important work by the first important man in her life. Even though he is no longer here, she will always have those words – that blessing – to keep as a treasure worth more than a roomful of gold.
This story pales in comparison, but whenever I can, I try to encourage young people. I frequently tutor high school students in writing and always try to find something positive to say in order to be an encouragement. The reason I like to do this is because I remember well how difficult it is to be that age, not really knowing where you’re going next or what you’re doing. Plus, you are at the mercy of so many different authority figures as your future is being determined. So, I like to try to lighten the mood a bit by saying something nice.
Whatever you choose to call it – paying it forward, bucket filling, doing unto others as you’d have them do unto you – it’s something positive in this frequently ugly and sad world, so that’s a good thing. The key is sincerity. If it’s not sincere, then don’t say it. If you can honestly bless someone with a true compliment, do it. You never know how much it might mean.