Raise your hand if you ever had someone tell you the importance of flossing your teeth. A teacher, your parents, grandparents, certainly a dentist have all stressed the importance of flossing your teeth. It has to be consistent; daily, is what everyone says. After eating popcorn it’s pretty obvious that flossing is important. Those darn husks get stuck in our gums and between our teeth and it’s annoying. However, it’s the daily action of flossing that keeps plaque from building up on our teeth, strengthens our gum tissue, and keeps our gums from receding and causing even more difficulties for us (and even long-term health issues). Flossing, a simple act, has profound impact on our overall health and well-being.
Something so simple, yet so profound in its benefits, is how I think of Little League affirmation. Like flossing, consistency is key. Exercised daily and repetitiously is the most effective way to gain maximum results. I’ve heard it said that doing something for 28 days in a row is the best way to break a habit or to develop a new one. Many in-patient treatment centers for addictive behavior include an initial intensive period of concentrated, focused routine for 28 days. Breaking old habits and/or developing new ones does not come easily. Notice, however, that it doesn’t take forever to break an old habit or to develop a new one. It just takes consistency and focus for a period of time. I would add that it also takes a heart to do so, a willingness to want something else, a dissatisfaction with the current state such that the individual “does what it takes” to get to the side of health and wholeness.
The fact that something is so simple, so easy to do and only requires a little bit of daily focused activity to create long-term health benefits ought to be a “no brainer.” Yet, the number one thing dentists and other health professionals wish people would do is floss. I have often wondered why that is the case. Laziness? Indifference? Aren’t convinced of the health benefits? How is it that so many people do not floss? A simple answer perhaps is that they have never gotten into the habit. Likewise, with Little League affirmation.
Many people simply have not developed the habit of saying “atta boy,” “atta girl,” “you’ve got this” to their families, co-workers and others in their lives. People either don’t consider Little League affirmation that important or they just assume it’s so simple that no one needs to remind them to keep exercising it. If it’s so obvious and so easy to do, why don’t we experience more of it? Why don’t we see more evidence of such affirming human interaction in our daily life? We know that it takes seven positive comments just to neutralize the toxicity of one negative comment – even among those who simply witnessed the negative comment and were not its target. Like flossing, it takes a heart to exercise Little League affirmation, a willingness to want something else, a dissatisfaction with the current state such that the individual “does what it takes” to get to the side of health and wholeness.
Here are some very simple, easy-to-start approaches to consistently exercising Little League affirmation with all your interactions. Recognize and appreciate the actions of others. You don’t have to be fake about it (no point, for example, in praising my horrible golf swing). But even the smallest task, like emptying the dishwasher, can bring an “atta boy,” “atta girl,” “thank you” to the kid who completed that task. Recognize and appreciate the staffer who made a fresh pot of coffee in the break room or brought donuts for a colleague’s birthday. Encourage a family member who is undertaking a new task at work with “you’ve got this.” Don’t do for kids what they can do for themselves – you can ask if they want help, but don’t automatically assume that they need it. And recognize and appreciate that their solution of the task may not be done exactly the way you would have done it. Recognize and appreciate the grocery worker who bags and carries your groceries to the car – “nice job. Thanks.” …and so much more.
You’ll think of other examples and add to this list. I welcome your feedback: what did you do? What did you say? How did you feel? What was the reaction/outcome of your Little League affirmation experience? Remember: you’ve got this! Atta boy! Atta girl!