Can you think of 6 words to describe yourself? I first did this as an assignment when I gave my TED Talk. Speakers were introduce simply by their 6 words. This 6 word assignment, not too hard to do. So take a minute. Have some fun. I hope you come up with lots of positive adjectives! If not, practice a little self compassion and try again. Nobody gets to see the list so why not brag a little, about yourself to yourself. Take a minute to come up with words that tell about the best of you. An occasional pat on the back from yourself is a good thing.
Now here’s a trickier assignment: Can you think of 6 words you wished you could use to describe yourself? Trickier, but a fun challenge. Maybe some of the words you thought about putting on the first list, but in all honesty knew you hadn’t quite earned. Think of these 6 adjectives as your TO DO list. I thought of ways I could describe positive feelings I had and then turned those into goals. I have my 6 words and I’m starting right now!
I’m thinking this is a pretty cool exercise. Maybe try to do it once a month…then at month’s end check in with yourself to evaluate how you’re doing. Might some of the words still need to be on the next month’s list? Seems pretty likely that many of our goal words might take a lifetime to become the words others use to describe us. Merely by having the intention of trying to earn those adjectives we will grow in that direction.
You know I’m always writing about adults talking through the specifics of what it takes to have a happier life and to be a kinder person. We can’t just hope our kids turn out to be happy well adjusted adults. We have to give them to tools and help them practice until the lessons are learned and the behaviors come to them like second nature. So many kids are instructed about manners until the “thank yous” and the “yes, sirs” come reflexively. An equal focus should be made ,so that kindness is also automatic. Imagine having had the 6 adjective exercise as a part of your childhood. Imagine having talked to an adult about choosing the type of person you wanted to be. Imaging if that adult had helped and encouraged you as you consciously chose ways of behaving to reach your stated goal.
Whoa! It’s really interesting to think of the “self help” things we adults do, as possible curriculum for kids. But, why not? There’s no reason self help has to be confined to adults attempting to undo old hurts and unlearn bad habits. I think kids can start at a young age to learn behavior strategies to be spared the hurts and never develop the bad habits.
Back to the 6 adjectives assignment. Can we as adults lead our children through such an exercise? I think we can. I love the idea of talking to kids about the lovable people in their lives and figuring out why they are lovable. With a little help I can imagine the following:
I like Jared because he always shares his trains.
People who share are really great.
Let’s put: be a sharer, on your TO DO list.
I like Teacher Stacey because she’s always happy to see me.
People who remember to say a great big HELLO are really great.
Let’s put: smile and say HI to people you know and do not know, on your TO DO list.
I like grandma because she never gets mad or yells at me.
People who don’t get mad and yell are really great.
Let’s put: don’t get mad and don’t be a yeller, on your TO DO list.
I like Alan because he lets me hug him and he always hugs back.
People who let you give and get lots of hugs are really great.
Let’s put: be a hug giver and getter, on your TO DO list.
Here’s to a world of people (grown ups and kids) with TO DO lists that address the truly important work of our lives!
Smile. Be happy!
A couple of Train Smileys for this post
in salute to Jared who always shares his trains
AND to talking to yourself with that vice in your head about your 6 adjectives.: I think I can!