My husband is notorious for writing notes to remind him of tasks, as well as affirmations to keep him on target. There are yellow sticky notes on the wall in his office, on the panel of his dashboard, on the door of his mancave, and on the bathroom mirror. Even though they are personal to him, I find myself reading all of them. I’m not sure if the yellow sticks out and draws my attention, or if I’m just nosy. At any rate, I see the value and I often pick up a helpful tidbit of information for myself. Perhaps more of us should adopt this practice.
As I watch the news and listen to various conversations among my friends and foes, I wonder if we need some of those sticky note reminders to help us to cope with change and differences of opinion. You know like a note that says: “Be a good listener!” or “Empathize with others!” or “Don’t Sweat the small stuff!” Life is too precious to spend our time on a constant flow of negativity. Perhaps we need a Note to Self that says: “Look for the positive!”
This past weekend I had an opportunity to work with some young adults (ages 16 to 22) who were part of a Department of Juvenile Justice program. We were helping them create vision boards which included short term and long term goals, both personal and professional. At the end of the time, some of the participants were asked if they wanted to share their visions. The young man that I worked with decided to share his board with the group. He had written several things that stuck with me, especially after he explained their significance to us. One of his notations said, “Be the Best Me I Can Be Everyday in Everyway.” Another said, “I’m a Man in Motion to Help Myself and to Help Others.” When he explained these to the group, he told us these were notes he wanted to write to himself to help him look forward to the future and stop dwelling on the the mistakes of his past. He said, “I can’t change my past, but I have an opportunity have better future, that’s why I’m here, and that’s why I wrote this.”
I was so impressed with this young man’s attitude and perspective. He had been in trouble with the law, he had failed his senior year in high school, he had overcome neglect, and grew up in a group home through DFACS. Yet, he had volunteered to be in this mentoring program which offers tutoring, job training, internships, and counseling in order to better his life. Note to Self: “Your Past Does not Have to Define You.
I couldn’t help but think about how the good influence of one or two people could change someone’s life. (That’s definitely my testimony, as describes in my book, Our Voices) It also reminded me of my former student. (See blog: Time Passes) Each of us have opportunities to make a difference everyday. It may only take a smile, a genuine greeting, a hug, a positive attitude in the face of disappointment, or patience when things aren’t going as quickly as we may wish. Sympathy and empathy may paved the way to unity and peace in the workplace, as well as the school yard. Note to Self: “I Can be the Catalyst for Change.”
I used to make fun of my husband and all his reminder notes, but now I find that I can use a few reminders from time to time myself. Just to be different I use multi-colored sticky notes to remind myself that comradery and joy can spread just as fast as confusion and indifference. Note to Self: “Don’t Use Sarcasm as Your Go-to.” Note to Self: “Think Before You Speak.” Note to Self: “Walk Away from Turmoil.” Of course there are some positive affirmations as well: Note to Self: “You have Experience and Wisdom.” Note to Self: “You can Connect Generations.” Note to Self: Creativity is on Your Side.”
I certainly don’t expect everyone to paste sticky notes all over the place, but it would be good for all us to make some mental notes to our selves throughout the day. What would your notes say? Could you make some positive changes with a few notes to yourself? Could you make the small corner of the world you occupy a better place? Note to Self: “Brighten the corner where you are.”