When I hear the term “warm fuzzy”, I instantly think “soft”, “nurturing”, and “comforting”. It’s that freshly washed blanket, straight from the dryer that you wrap yourself up in. Its gentle embrace is the feeling of security and assurance and care. And it can be found in the simple gift of a kind word.
During the month of February at the school where I work, students are being asked to share warm fuzzies, kind and caring messages, with their classmates. Teachers are sharing messages with their students, too. Each student has decorated a paper bag to collect their warm fuzzies, and at the end of the month there will be a celebration and the opportunity to read the notes. It is not a Valentine’s Day activity, although the sentiment may be similar. With their teachers’ help, students will be learning to see the positive in each other and offer to one another the gift of their kind words.
A few years ago, while working in the Emotional Support program at another school, I participated in a workshop activity similar to “warm fuzzies”. In the activity, each staff member received an index card and was asked to put his/her name on it. Each index card would then be passed around to each of the other members of the group, so there would always be one card on the table in front of each member. As each card came to us, we were asked to write a short positive message. It was an opportunity to give acknowledgement to our peers and to recognize their positive qualities.
When all cards had been passed around and all messages had been written, the cards were returned to us, filled with kind words and affirmations. Some of the thoughts expressed were delightfully surprising, because they revealed a fondness or admiration that had never been shared. Writing our kind words on index cards allowed us to safely and thoughtfully put feelings into words and to confidently give affirmation without fear of rejection. When you work with a large group of people, there are bound to be times when you step on each other’s toes or when feelings get hurt. In participating in this exercise, we were given the opportunity to recognize that each member of the team had value and worth, even if we didn’t always like one another or get along.
Sincere kind words have power. Kind words can help us to replace negative thoughts that we, or others, are harboring. They can lead us to opening dialogue and creating better understanding, and the cost to us is really nothing.
In our school, students are addressed as “friends”. I like the use of that word, because the language paves the way to the reality. Everyone can be our friend; the potential is there. Our students are going to school with their friends, and our teachers are teaching their friends. The more we think in that way, the potential exists that we will make better choices in our use of words and efforts to support each other, our young ones, and ourselves. Knowing how good it feels to receive a “warm fuzzy” is a great motivator for giving one. It feels good to give a positive. And the best part is that, like a boomerang, the positive always has a way of coming back to us.