Earlier this week, I saw and shared a post on Facebook from a high school in Michigan about their way of honoring the 17 students lost in the Parkland, Florida school shooting a month prior. “They were each given 17 sticky notes to symbolize the 17 lives lost and were encouraged to leave 14 notes for students and 3 for adults that would brighten their day.

I loved this idea, and upon looking at the pictures and videos from the high school, I suddenly wanted to leave notes to friends and acquaintances in a similar way. I wanted to spread joy and encouragement like those students did for one another.

Now, my statement that I loved this idea is not meant as a dig against any other actions taken that same day. (Well, except the ones that included vandalism. I’ll never be able to get behind damaging other’s property to make any sort of point.) Nor am I saying I’m all hearts and roses that “love one another” is going to fix our issues with school violence. This is a much bigger issue that I think we’re only just scratching the surface of even trying to get a handle on.

What I am saying is that we all need a little encouragement sometimes.

I remember as a kid, we’d have Valentine’s Day parties in class. There was no choosing who got cards and who didn’t. When you brought cards, you brought for everyone in the class. Even that classmate who just didn’t quite fit in with the rest.

Now, let’s face it, your closest friends got the best cards. Everyone else got the rest. But I remember I loved getting those little cards! And it never failed to make me laugh how many ways “Denise” could be spelled. Especially endearing were the misspellings from the classmates that, frankly, I probably wouldn’t even remotely know today. But I remember the giggle and joy they gave me through those cards.

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel,” Maya Angelou.

We live in a world full of division, where everyone is ready to fight. We live in a world where it feels like everyone is ready to educate you as to why you are wrong. We live in a world where its always someone else’s fault.

I’m not putting my head in the sand towards all that is wrong today. But it makes me so sad that I am afraid to be positive some days. I’m sometimes scared to share an uplifting story for fear of being chastised. But I also refuse to let negativity win.

I want to lead with positivity and encouragement, celebrating moments of goodness. I want to learn from not only my mistakes but the mistakes of others. I want to point out the good instead of focusing on what is wrong. And I want to encourage others to do the same — to build up the positives with as much zeal and they may work to beat down the negatives. I want to encourage others to be kind to themselves and to others.

“Be the light in the darkness to inspire and to enlighten others,” Debasish Mridha

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