February 20

Today's quotation:

Praise is like sunlight to the warm human spirit; we cannot flower and grow without it.  And yet, while most of us are only too ready to apply to others the cold wind of criticism, we are somehow reluctant to give our fellow the warm sunshine of praise.

Jess Lair

Today's Meditation:

Praise is free.  It's really quite simple.  Unfortunately, constructive praise is also quite rare, it seems.  We seem to have an aversion to praising someone else's efforts, especially if we perceive there being some sort of competition between us and them.  Did a co-worker do something very well?  Well, that's just his or her job.  Did our child do very well at school.  Well, that's what kids are supposed to do at school, isn't it?  Our world is full of people criticizing and judging people, but not full of people praising others.  It's really quite a shame, because praise can do so much to make the experience of life more positive for those people whose lives we touch. 

Of course, there's the problem of giving too much praise, which is more destructive than constructive.  And there's the problem of praising mediocre or poor work, which is also counterproductive when all is said and done.  But these things are going to happen no matter what, and we shouldn't withhold our praise of something well done simply because someone else praises too much, or praises something that doesn't really deserve praise.

Some of us withhold our praise because we don't get praised much, if at all.  We may do a great job at work, yet receive only criticism for the few things we may do less well at.  But this philosophy only spreads discontent and frustration--we can be those people who stop the chain of negativity and turn it into something positive.  As a teacher, I get almost no praise, ever, from anyone.  I get people coming into my classroom intent on finding something that they can put on an evaluation that I need to improve.  But I know how it feels to be on the receiving end of such attention, so I want to praise my students as much as I can, as long as the praise is warranted and sincere.

Spread praise.  If you have a hard time finding something to praise in someone, dig deeper instead of giving up or criticizing.  We can contribute to the positive energy of this world with a few simple words now and then, and that's a contribution that's desperately needed, by all of us.

Questions to consider:

What keeps us from praising others?  Why is it sometimes difficult to praise someone?

How do you feel when you receive praise?  How do you feel when others withhold it?

How might sincere praise affect another person's feelings?  Their job performance?  Their school performance?

For further thought:

The French believe that kids feel confident when they're able to do things for themselves, and do those things well. After children have learned to talk, adults don't praise them for saying just anything. They praise them for saying interesting things, and for speaking well.

Pamela Druckerman

more on praise



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