The power of positivity through compassion and smiles
February brings us Valentine’s Day. It’s a day that always makes me smile. I have so many positive memories about celebrating “happy hearts day” through the years. What is your favorite Valentine’s Day memory? Or what is your favorite moment at work this week? Imagine asking each of your patients, colleagues, or students, “What was your favorite moment during this office visit, this hospital stay, this event?” What would they say and why?
My favorite moments frequently are those in which I learn something new and can share it with you. I was recently introduced to a program called Classes 4 Classes. It’s a non-profit organization whose mission is “to teach children the power of kindness and compassion through their ability to create positive change for others.” The activities they promote made me think about how nurses do similar things everyday to bring smiles and positivity to colleagues and patients. In spite of our “busy-ness,” can we do more?
When you think about your “favorite memory or moment” question, what are the chances the answers involve someone complimenting you or thanking you for something you did for them. Did a patient give you a genuine smile that warmed your heart, or happily welcomed you with sincerity and kindness? The high points of our days can be the simplest moments when kindness touched us, and then we passed it on.
Consider this: The best moments for those we meet and care for can be determined by how we enter a room, how we welcome and greet them, and the kindness we share—all expressed with a simple smile. That’s the power of kindness, the impact of a simple smile, a signal of empathy and compassion.
When I’m having a challenging day, with lots to do and not enough time to get it all done, it’s easy to show stress on my face and impact those around me. I doubt that I made their day and lifted them up, even a little bit. The Classes 4 Classes lessons teach that we can consciously choose each day to make someone else’s day better, if not memorable. The rebound of kindness and smiles is exponential. As nurses, we all know that lesson, but do we practice it as much as we can? I don’t, and I appreciate the reminder.
Each month, I usually write this column about a serious topic covering the weighty challenges nurses face every day. Topics such as bullying, workplace violence, patient safety, nurse-physician relationships, advances in technology, and nursing education options. While we deal with those real world issues, let’s remember the little things we do for others on Valentine’s Day. You have your own traditions and I have mine. Together, we can create that same positive outcome for almost anyone we meet on any given day. In our profession, many of those we encounter aren’t having their best day. Consciously choosing kindness and smiling sincerely can make them feel like it’s Valentine’s Day every day.
Lillee Gelinas, DNP, RN, CPPS, FAAN
American Nurse Journal. 2023; 18(2). Doi: 10.51256/ANJ022304;