As a young boy Mister Rogers’ television program was a personal favorite of mine. His greatest gift was in making everyone feel welcomed in his charming, make-believe neighborhood – an asset for any child feeling a little lost in their own. And while many of his teachings were geared towards the younger generation, I’ve come to discover how appropriate they truly are for everyone – especially the act of one kind word.
He once said, ““Imagine what our real neighborhoods would be like if each of us offered, as a matter of course, just one kind word to another person. There have been so many stories about the lack of courtesy, the impatience of today’s world, the road rage and even restaurant rage. Sometimes, all it takes is one kind word to nourish another person. Think of the ripple effect that can be created when we nourish someone. One kind empathetic word has a wonderful way of turning into many.”
Over the course of his lifetime, Rogers’s words of enlightenment were infinite – touching the lives of everyone he came in contact with. But I believe the above paragraph is truly one of his most profound – serving as testament to the influential power one kind word can have on another human being. Sadly, it seems a practice which has all but disappeared from today’s landscape. Instead society seems lost in a sea of negative and self-serving behaviors that leaves little room for courtesy and kindness.
We all possess the power to influence the lives of our fellow neighbors with something as simple as one kind word – even “hello” can brighten someone’s day. While Fred Rogers of course was human and not without his share of hardships, ultimately he knew how to treat people with the kindness and courtesy he hoped one day would be contagious.
Author Kent Nerburn writes, “Before long you will discover that you have the power to create joy and happiness by your simplest gestures of caring and compassion. You will see that you have the power to unlock the goodness in other people’s hearts by sharing the goodness in yours.”