Take Time to THINK

Do you want to know what terrifies me? The thought of 350 children in a gym with me in charge.

That is exactly the scenario I was faced with a few weeks ago at Longfellow Elementary in Fargo.

The principal called and asked if I would be willing to speak at an all-school assembly on the importance of kindness. I was so excited and flattered when he asked that I honestly started screaming on the phone. “Oh my goodness! Oh my goodness. Really? I would love to!”

That poor man probably still can’t hear out of his right ear.

My two oldest kids go to Longfellow, and I cherished the idea of being able to share with them what I actually do for a living while they’re gone Monday through Friday. I thought of it kind of like “Bring Your Kid to Work Day,” only they wouldn’t have to miss any school.

The whole idea of speaking to the students was surrounded by rainbows and butterflies until I realized that I actually had to come up with a message that 1) would be meaningful and 2) would hold the attention of 350 kids ages 5 to 12.

The panic set in.

Thanks to the effort of my entire family, a little help from the Internet, some duct tape and a bag of balloons, I eventually came up with a presentation that was both fun and appropriate for kids.

The day went off without a hitch. The students were incredibly quiet and attentive. No one threw anything at me, and only one child asked if the principal was my boyfriend. I call that a success.

My message for the day was “T.H.I.N.K. Before You Speak.” As I was talking with the kids, I couldn’t get over the thought that we as adults probably need to be reminded of the same thing.

Many people tell me they are too busy, don’t have the money or aren’t creative enough to follow through on a daily act of kindness. The truth is, we have the opportunity to be kind every time we open our mouths, and we do that thousands of times a day. We just need to T.H.I.N.K. before we speak.

I’m sure you always think before you speak, so just go ahead and pass this column on to someone you know who could use a friendly reminder.

I found a beautiful acronym on the Internet using the letters T.H.I.N.K.

The T stands for “thoughtful.” Before you say something, ask yourself, “Is what I’m going to say thoughtful?” Many times we go about the day thinking of our own needs. We do what is expected of us, but are too self-consumed to even notice that our answers are short and brittle instead of loving and compassionate.

The H stands for “helpful.” Again, ask yourself, “Is what I’m going to say helpful?” When you see someone who looks lost or confused, take the extra moment to ask if there is anything you can do to help.

The I stands for “inspiring.” Use your words to tell someone about a hidden talent you see in them or a job well done.

The N stands for “necessary.” When someone around you messes up, and you respond with “How could you do that?” or “What were you thinking?” you are adding to that person’s already low attitude. We usually know when we mess up; we don’t need someone to remind us. What we need is someone to say, “It’s OK. I’ve been there.”

The K stands for kind. This one is of course my favorite. Taking just an extra moment to make sure you are finding the kindest way to say something can make a huge difference in another person’s day.

So, there you have my elementary lesson that I believe pertains to adults as well.

Someone once said, “Everything I need to know I learned in kindergarten.” I agree. Sometimes we just need to refresh our memories and T.H.I.N.K.

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