“Never Suppress A Generous Thought” – Camilla Kimball
When I heard this quoted in General Conference years ago it made total sense to me but it wasn’t until later that it really hit home. I was teaching relief society at the time and after church one Sunday as I was walking out to my car a sister came walking from her car across the parking lot to tell me that she appreciated my lesson. She said, “you know, I think it but rarely do I actually say it and I just wanted you to know that I’m thankful.” Then she walked off. As I got in my car to head home I thought about what she said, “rarely do I actually say it” and it just struck me so strongly this time. How many times do I think a wonderful thought about someone and NEVER share it? It’s not out of being rude or not wanting to share. Most of the time it’s just bad timing! They’re in the middle of a lesson or talk or maybe I’m doing something and tell myself I tell them later and then I forget or I don’t say something because I don’t want it to come across as weird.
We think kind things about others but do we remember to share them too?
Can you relate? How many times have you thought something wonderful and good about someone and didn’t share it with them? Either because it wasn’t convenient or maybe because you weren’t sure if it’d come across as weird.
But…HOW WILL THEY EVER KNOW what you’re thinking and feeling UNLESS you TELL THEM. (I think that’s a song… “how will they know unless you shoooooow them?” – CSB p. 182)
We can’t know. We can guess, we can assume but most of the time we’re wrong. So it’s really a gift to share your kind and generous thoughts with others.
A new way of thinking
I’m going to offer you something today about why sharing is important and it’s not what you’ve been taught all growing up. We’ve heard several times over the years that when we share a kind thought it makes the other person feel good so we should do it more often, right? As kids we heard adults teach us that it’s not good to say mean things to others because it’ll make them feel bad and that we should say kind things because it’ll make them feel good, right?
I’m going to say NO to that. We don’t MAKE anyone feel anything…ever. We don’t hold that kind of power. What we can do is offer them our kindness (which feels good to us) and then they get to interpret that however they want.
We don’t MAKE anyone feel anything
It’s not a guaranteed given that they’ll feel warm and fuzzy inside because you complimented them. They have to think and accept those words themselves. Haven’t you experienced that before? Someone says something nice to you and you kind of roll your eyes inside because you don’t really believe what they’re saying? “They’re only saying that because _____________.” How do we know??? We don’t know the spirit in which they offered that gesture. Point is: THEY don’t MAKE us feel anything. WE MAKE US FEEL GOOD by our thoughts about what they said and how we’re choosing to interpret it.
Let me give you an example: Yesterday my youngest daughter was at a church group. All the leaders in her group are in the their fifties with similar hair styles. After the activity as we were leaving I asked her if she remembered to thank her leaders for providing such a fun activity. She turned to the first lady, a woman in her fifties with a short hair cut and thanked her. This woman looked at me and giggled a little because she was NOT one of the leaders. She just kind of looked like her leaders. I steered her in the right direction and off she went to thank her real leaders.
The difference was huge. When she thanked the non-leader, she just wrote it off because she thought, “This isn’t meant for me. I didn’t do anything. I’m just here to pick up my granddaughter.” BUT when she said the same words to the actual leader that woman hugged her and her cheeks went a little pink and she said, “Oh, Thank you! I’m so glad you came!”
We interpret others words and actions
See the difference? Both the SAME words but they each had their own interpretation of those words. For the one, it didn’t mean a whole lot and so it didn’t MAKE her feel good inside. She just wrote it off because it wasn’t intended for her.
To the actual leader she did feel good inside because my daughter gave her an opportunity to think more kind thoughts. In this leaders mind she may have thought, “I did a good job at my activity today. The girls must have really liked it. They like me. I’m awesome!” Or at least I hope they think they’re awesome because we sure think they are.
Share because it feels good for you and because it gives them an opportunity to choose to feel good too
Sharing your kind thoughts feels good for YOU. When you act on those thoughts and SHARE them then you’re not only thinking good things but now you’re acting on good things and giving your brain more of an opportunity to feel generous and kind and loving.
Sharing your kind thoughts gives the other person an opportunity to pause what they’re doing and now think good things too. “They like what I’m doing!”, “I’m a good person because this person thinks I am.”. “I’m so glad this person could benefit from what I shared.” etc. It gives them permission to believe themselves that they’re doing a good job, that they are a kind person, etc.
We can never MAKE anyone feel anything. Good or Bad. But you can make yourself feel good by thinking kind and generous thoughts. You can GIVE them and opportunity to see and think about themselves in a new light (which generally creates those warm fuzzy feelings).
SHARE, SHARE, SHARE
So SHARE those thoughts and get a double whammy of goodness because you feel good when you think it and you feel good when you act on it by sharing it. Why not give others an opportunity to think kind thoughts about themselves too. As much as possible SHARE, SHARE, SHARE. You will feel AMAZING!
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Never Suppress a Generous Thought – Julie B. Beck