There’s hardly a more clichéd statement than “I like to help people”. Even though I actually do, I don’t like to say, or even think, that. Not so much for lack of self-confidence, but rather for the absence of substance in such an affirmation.

What does it even mean? What do I like to help people with, specifically? Is it the process of helping that satisfies me, or the ultimate result I bring others to?

For most people it is a bit of everything. For me personally, it’s perhaps not so much the destination in itself. Perhaps it is the flicker in someone’s eyes when I show them that even now, regardless of what the next step is or what the future brings, there is something really cool about them.

Here the word “empowering” (even though quite cliché-laden as well) fits much better than the fairly empty “helping”. Empowering is helping people to help themselves. It’s about making people realize that there is much good in them, without asking them to change.

Empowering is making the other person see that wherever they are right now, whatever is happening right now, however they feel right now, they already have something to work with. Empowering people is about refocusing their thoughts on their own strengths and resources.

Just like everyone else, I often struggle to keep healthy habits. I go to bed late, even though I know for sure that I will feel exhausted in the morning. I’m terrible at following a regular writing schedule. Also, rigorous planning frightens me, as I tend to get asynchronous at times.

However, there is one habit I stick to:

I find one thing that I like about the other person. And I tell them.

I don’t lie. I don’t flatter. There is always something one can honestly appreciate. Even if I don’t have a chance to speak to them and I notice the marvelous shoes they wear, for example, I simply say “I love your shoes”. That’s how easy it is.

I like your…

I like how you…

I like what you…

I like that you…

Sometimes you make the person smile for a second. Sometimes you change their mood for the whole day. Sometimes you just make them feel noticed.

“Half of what I say is meaningless; but I say it so that the other half may reach you.”
~ Kahlil Gibran

A few words that shoot a streak of positive energy at an individual who then comes into contact with dozens of other individuals, and may, hopefully, share some of this energy further along. The multiplier effect of one such simple habit can prove to be extraordinary.

It doesn’t take almost any time and it certainly doesn’t cost any money. And still, I believe, it can change the world.

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