I saw this image the other day and on an impulse, decided to download it to my phone. Today, I decided to put it up as my display picture on WhatsApp.
Now, I’m always very careful about what I put there because I’ve realized people (especially my younger friends and students – ex and current) do take the trouble of reading the words it generally contains. I’ve occasionally been told that the quote on my DP has been a timely message that helped someone to think from a different perspective, find a way out of a thorny issue or just served as a tiny source of inspiration. Having this knowledge makes me feel doubly responsible for what I choose to display.
It also strongly drives home the point that a teacher’s role does not end once she steps out of the classroom but spills over into every aspect of life – personal and social.
Coming back to the topic of the profile picture. Today was a rare occasion when putting up a picture set me thinking. I read and re-read the words, savouring the meaning of each sentiment it expressed. In so doing, I found myself moved with immense gratitude for having a sizeable number of people in my life who have been to me exactly what the DP describes.
What’s more important, it spurred me into concrete action and I immediately dashed off a message to all these people, thanking them for being so. Judging from the responses I got, this small action seems to have generated a significant amount of warmth and positivity in quite a few of the recipients. One of my friends even said it reminded her of how you don’t need a reason to make someone feel special!
From my own experience over the years, I know I’m more likely to be good to others when I’m feeling good about myself. So, I’m quite sure that this little act, performed on an impulse, directed to a few of my friends, must have sent off ripples of joy and positive vibes in their respective circles of family and friends. Which just goes to show how easy it is to spread goodwill when you make a beginning in your own interactions. And I hope this blog post inspires you to find ways of your own to make the special people in your own lives feel …well, SPECIAL.
As I let myself flow with these thoughts, as the next logical step in this exercise, I then asked myself – how many people would believe me to be deserving of the same words? How many persons would say I was to them what the DP described?
To be frank, the answer is – “I’m not really sure.” Even after discounting people with alexithymia and those who are really hard to please, the number may not be as large as I’d like to believe. Some of you may tell me I’m being modest but then, we all know ourselves best, right? At least, we ought to. And when it comes to self-improvement, there must be no room for complacency. I’m not advocating an obsession with self-perfection, nor am I in favour of running or winning a race in popularity. What I am suggesting is that we learn to look at our behaviour and interactions with clarity and humility because it is the first step towards growing into what Carl Rogers described as the fully functioning person.
Becoming a self-actualized person is not an end of life’s journey; rather, it is a process that involves constant becoming and changing into a better person from what I used to be.