I want to start out with an experiment. Wherever you are, in your room or wherever, for the next 20 seconds I want you to look around and find all of the things that are blue. Any shade of blue, any object, piece of clothing, decoration — I want you to make note of all of the blue things. Keep looking, find everything that’s blue. A few more seconds … aaaaand stop! Now close your eyes! Good work. Even with your eyes closed, I bet you could list off all of the blue items around you!
But that’s not the experiment — keep your eyes closed! What I’m really curious to know is, without looking, can you list all the things that are yellow? Eh?
Maybe you already know what’s yellow from memory or familiarity, like you know a banana is yellow. But it might be hard to recall all of the yellow items around you since you were only focused on what was blue. And what if there wasn’t anything yellow where you’re at? I bet you know where to find something yellow in a cupboard or drawer. (by the way, you can open your eyes now)
Shifting gears, there’s a saying I’m sure you’ve heard before, it goes,
“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”
or my cold weather version:
“When life gives you cocoa powder, make hot chocolate!”
Have you ever tasted a lemon? Or tried a tiny bit of baking cocoa or raw cacao? Lemons are sour! And cocoa powder is bitter. There is no sweetness to either of them. But thankfully, someone figured out a spoonful of sugar changes how they taste, even though there are lemons or cooca powder in the recipe, it can turn out sweet!
In previous episodes we’ve talked about working through things you can and can’t control, as well as practicing gratitude. Those are a great place to start and I recommend revisiting those episodes or those show notes posts on EmpowerfulGirls.com. Building on from there, here are more tools:
First, choose your focus.
In life there is no shortage of disappointments, disruptions, challenges, change, conflict, worry, loneliness, illness, pain, etc. And like the blue and yellow experiment, you can either focus on all of those blue, negative things, or you can recognize they exist while choosing to focus on the yellow, the good, positive, uplifting, enriching things. Even when it’s cloudy outside, the sun is still shining behind it. You can choose what you notice, what you pay attention to, what you focus on. Will it be blue or yellow?
Next, be the good.
Sometimes good, positive things aren’t as noticeable or are actually hard to find. But you can choose to change something sour like a lemon, something bitter like cocoa powder, into something a little better and a little sweeter like lemonade or hot chocolate. You can make your own good, do something good, be the good. You don’t have to wait around til good opportunities find you; you have the power to make change. If you can’t see the good, then be the good for a change.
There are countless ways to be the good, and you’d be surprised by how many of them are FREE! Here are some ideas you could do right away (PS —Coffee Cups and Crayons has a list of 100 acts of kindness just for kids!):
- Smile! You don’t even need a reason, and it usually makes others smile back! Like Elf, make smiling your favorite!
- Give a family member a hug that’s at least 8 seconds long — you’ll both feel better
- Be the first to say, “I’m sorry” even if someone else is more at fault
- Play with your sibling, let them choose the activity
- Write a kind message or draw a picture with chalk on the sidewalk for others to see
- Look your parent in the eyes and say, “I love you.”
- Leave a Thank You note on your front door for people delivering packages
- Share your toys, craft materials, or something special of yours with your sibling
- Make up a joke and tell it to a friend
- Do a chore, or someone else’s, without being asked
- Leave a little note in your parent’s bag or car for them to find later
- Make your sibling’s bed or clean their room
- Put on a sock puppet show for your family
- Help make a meal for your family
- Bake a treat for someone else and drop it off at their door
You know what’s even more fun and feels really great? You could even do some of these anonymously, which is doing something without the person knowing it was you! It’s not about the thanks you get, it’s about what you give someone else!
Here are a few more ways to be the good. These ones need a little planning but will make a big difference:
- Tie pictures of happy faces to trees around your neighborhood, and tell your neighbors to go on a scavenger hunt to find them all
- Call or video chat with a grandparent and ask them to tell you a story about their childhood, or sing them a few songs
- Have your friends choose a book they’re finished reading and do a book swap
- Go through your clothes, games, and toys, donate what you don’t use anymore
- Collect canned and non-perishable food from neighbors and donate to a food pantry
- Ask your friends to draw happy pictures and deliver them to an assisted living center to hang on the walls
And if you see a need in your family, in your school, in your community, talk with a few adults about what you can do to help. You are not too young to make a difference.
Remember, regardless of what’s going on in your life, your family, your community, the world … you can choose your focus and be the good.
To help you remember all of this, I created a “Be The Good” poster for you to print out, personalize, and post on your wall where you’ll see it, remember it, practice it, and believe it — that’s the important part.
A few of my favorite books that illustrate this are
Pout Pout Fish, by Deborah Diesen
Too Many Mangos, by Tammy Paikai
Movies that explore this are
“The BFG” (the book is great, too)
“A Christmas Carol” — the Muppet and animated ones are my favorite.
(Yes, it’s a holiday movie but the message is good all year long.)
If you have favorite books or movies to add, I’d love to hear from you! Ask your parent’s permission to share your favs by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also check out :
Random Acts of Kindness Foundation — 2021 calendar loaded with kindness ideas for every day of the year!
Coffee Cups and Crayons — list of 100 acts of kindness just for kids.