I woke up this morning with these three words on my mind. It's very rare that something like that happens to me, but it did today. And with those three words were many other ideas about the concept, mostly centered on the idea that every positive contact that someone has with someone else helps that person to grow in positive ways, and that our characters and principles are developed by the number and type of contacts that we have with other people, and that the more positive contacts we experience, the more positive we grow as human individuals and as members of the human community.
We all follow this principle in our lives, whether we recognize it or not. If we want an animal to accept us, we generally don't try to make it like us immediately; instead, we walk up to it slowly, trying to pet it at first, and we don't worry if it shies away or walks away. Then, the next time we see it, we try to add another positive contact to our relationship with it, until eventually there are enough positive contacts built up that the kitten or puppy or lizard trusts us, and will allow us to be close to it.
And while people certainly aren't animals (though some may argue with the statement), we often follow similar principles in our relationships with others. As a teacher, for example, I never try to get my students to like or trust me during the first class--I just try to be genuine and sincere and do my job well. If they're going to trust me, that's a dynamic that has to be built over time.
There are other people in my life with whom I don't have as much contact, or with whom contact tends to be negative if they're negative people or if I get angry or upset with them. In these cases, it really is up to me to start adding positive contacts with them, slowly but surely, if I want to repair a relationship or establish a positive one. There have been times when I've had arguments with people, and it's taken quite a bit of time to re-establish the positive side of the relationship. When I try to accomplish this, I simply try to build the numbers of positive contacts--simple "hellos" or kind acts or compliments or asking favors--until the scale tips back over to the positive side.
If we could keep a tally of the positive contacts that we initiate over the course of our lives, it could be something that could show us just what kind of impact we can make in this world. Each encounter to which we contribute in positive ways is a contribution to the peace and love and hope of the world, even if in a very small way. But as we add ten, twenty, one hundred, one thousand such contacts over the course of months or years, we'll know for sure that we have made contributions to the lives of others that have helped them to feel confidence, hope, peace, or balance, or that have helped them to learn important things about themselves or the world.
What positive contacts can you make today? When you have contact with any other person in your life, whether they're people you like or don't like, what kind of positive things can you contribute to the world, be it a small compliment, a sincere thank you, or a piece of encouragement? The world is in need of positive energy and hope and love, and the best way for us to contribute to those elements of the world is to consciously add something positive to each encounter, to each contact. The more we do so, the more natural it will become, and the more widespread the ripple effect will be--our contributions will grow further than we can imagine, and all we have to do is start somewhere.