Yesterday, Laurel told us about an activity her teacher led them through in class. It was called One Great Thing, during which the kids wrote down one great thing about each classmate. We asked Laurel about her responses for various classmates (admittedly, I was especially curious about what she wrote about the kid who taught her the f-bomb or another boy who annoys her to no end) and all agreed how hard it can be to think of one great thing for people you don't know very well or who bug you. I was impressed with the descriptors Laurel came up with; for example, "great power words" for the annoying boy who constantly yells things like "sick!" and "rad!"
And then -- almost as if Laurel was reading my mind -- while I was thinking about what a brilliant (and challenging) exercise this would be for grownups, she said, "Let's do this for people we know!" and proceeded to create three worksheets (for her, me, and Jon) listing various people for whom we had to conjure one great thing.
Now, suffice to say, my relationships are not perfect and at this very minute some of them are downright crappy. There were a couple of people on Laurel's list for whom it took me a solid 10 minutes to think of one great thing.
Sad but true.
And it made me realize, damn, that's a sh*t ton of baggage lodged in the neural/emotional pathways that would enable me to conjure one redeeming quality for a person. But I'm hoping it's a start. For finding the positive even in people who have treated me poorly. For letting go of anger and expectations. For reminding myself that even if I don't understand people's behavior, the world needs all types of people and people are perfect just as they are.
Because then I'll have more degrees of freedom for, and more to give to, the people for whom the One Great Thing exercise is a piece of cake.