“If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all,” was one of my Mom’s favorite adages. Credit for the quote is given to Aesop but Thumper, the bunny from Bambi made it famous in the scene in which Thumper is critical about Bambi’s walking ability. Thumper’s Mother scolds him for being unkind to newborn, Bambi, and reminds Thumper, “what did your father tell you this morning?” A chastened Thumper then recites: “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all.”
In a letter to her husband on February 1861, Lucretia Garfield came to Mary Lincoln’s defense. James Garfield (who would later fall to an assassin’s bullet just like Abraham Lincoln) had made unkind remarks in a letter about the appearances and personalities of both President Lincoln and his First Lady. Garfield stated that, “Lincoln is distressingly homely,” and that “Mary Lincoln is a stocky, sallow, pug-nosed, plain lady.” Mrs. Garfield’s response to her husband’s “catty” remarks was,” if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all!”
The Proverb, “you catch more flies with honey than vinegar” was used by my mother frequently when breaking up arguments amongst my siblings and me. It is basically saying that you can win over more people by being polite and kind. Being mean and unpleasant is like being full of vinegar. You will push people away by being sour or bitter. Nice, polite requests often work better.
These have become my mottos with my children and grandchildren and I can honestly say that everyone in my family is kind. I believe it’s always best to avoid aggressive, rude, or disrespectful communication. I don’t believe that we should always say nice things to avoid conflict or disagreements, especially If someone is disrespecting or attacking you. Staying quiet might not resolve the situation. I’ve had to make the choice to not say anything at all many times, because “this too shall pass.” I have found that rude people are lashing out from a place of pain and suffering. That being said, rudeness still hurts.
I began my journey of wellness twenty years ago when Western medicine wasn’t healing my darling husband. I completed an intensive year long, herbalism course which was my first step in the alternatives available for good health. I continued with certification classes on aromatherapy and Reiki. We changed our diet to 100% plant based and expanded our garden. I took a meditation course and added QiGong to my morning Yoga routine. As a kindergarten teacher, I am happy to add Mindfulness classes to my continuing education credits. I’m currently taking a class on Somatic Yoga and breathing. I’m on a path of keeping my family healthy and vibrant, and as a teacher, I’m excited to share what I’ve learned. Every course that I have participated in fosters positivity and kindness as an integral part on the path to wellness.
Every morning I am greeted by a sweet note from my husband, who is an empath, an artist, and the kindest person I know. Don’t get me wrong, he’s never been milquetoast, he’s a very assertive and outspoken man. I have boxes of these beautiful notes with colorful cartoons of our family and dogs. It’s just a little kindness to be greeted before school with a few loving words, it sets the tone for a happy day and I am very grateful for it.
The connection between health and positivity remains murky, but researchers from John’s Hopkins suspect that people who are more positive may be better protected against the inflammatory damage of stress. This study also found that negative emotions can weaken immune response. A University of Kansas study found that smiling reduces heart rate and blood pressure during stressful situations.
When you surround yourself with positive people, you’ll hear positive outlooks, stories, and affirmations. These positive words will affect your line of thinking, giving you the tools to overcome negativity. To bring beneficial changes and improvement in your life, a positive attitude must become your predominant mental attitude.
Humor can help lighten the mood and make positive thinking more approachable. As Oscar Wilde said, “some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go.” We can start a positive chain reaction by adding humor and friendliness to our interactions with others. By being appreciative, surrounding ourselves with positive people, concentrating on solutions, and being present, we may teach our brains to think more positively.
“There are three ways to ultimate success: The first way is to be kind. The second way is to be kind. The third way is to be kind.” Mister Rogers
“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.” Mister Rogers
Kate Emery General is a retired chef/restaurant owner that was born and raised in Casper, Wyoming. Kate loves her grandchildren, knitting and watercolor painting. Kate and her husband , Matt are longtime residents of Cambridge’s West End where they enjoy swimming and bicycling.