Vol. LII No. 11
November 2017

Putting your best foot forward regularly pays big dividends


There is an old proverb most people of my generation have heard at some time, probably from a mother or grandmother.

“You can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar.”

Translation: if you want to get along in this world, and you want to achieve some things, including happiness, you will be much more effective if you take a kind and considerate approach.

That is easier said than done in some cases! Each of us deals with many people and situations throughout our lifetimes. Some of those people can be challenging, even aggressive and rude. Some of the situations we deal with are not entirely pleasant. But taking a calm and measured approach is the surest way to achieve the desired outcome.

NBC recently conducted a “kindness poll.” The poll of more than 2,500 Americans sought to measure how much value we place on kindness, and how likely kindness was to help us achieve our goals. 

Almost 90% of respondents agreed kindness begins in the home. If we practice kindness among our family members, it is most likely to become a habit in everyday life. Of course, families normally have their squabbles, but making the choice to react with kindness is a big step forward. If you are not doing it already, try it in your family. You may be surprised by the positive reaction you receive!

The workplace is also an excellent venue to practice kindness. Over 70% of poll respondents said they would forego a 10% raise in exchange for a kinder boss and co-workers. We all encounter workplace challenges, and lots of different situations arise as we do our jobs. The key is to be prepared ahead of time for the challenges we know will come. Reacting to co-workers, customers, supervisors and others with kindness and patience almost always puts you in the driver’s seat and leads to a positive outcome. We spend a big part of our lives at work. By starting with your own attitude, you can make it a much happier place.

And doing good deeds for others can be incredibly fulfilling! Again, almost 90% of respondents said they were really happier helping others than being helped. The act of being kind to someone and doing something positive for them will lift you up and put a skip in your step. When the opportunity comes along to help someone, a kind act will go a long way toward building happiness in the recipient – and you!

Where we live and how we function as a community are both very important to Americans. A total of 88% responded they would rather live in a community with friendly and nice neighbors rather than one with large, nice homes. It feels good to have neighbors who are friendly and caring. It gives the community a sense of safety and security in the common good. A cold, antiseptic neighborhood just doesn’t feel right. We are at heart social creatures who need positive interaction with others. Good neighbors start with acts of kindness.

Kindness is a choice we can make, no matter how difficult the situation. It is an emotional state of attentiveness, empathy and warmth that can work with virtually any person in any situation. It’s a good choice and raises spirits and helps everyone attain his or her goals.

The proverb’s “honey” is a kind attitude; the “vinegar” is a negative, uncaring approach. It’s a critically important distinction and one worth our attention and preparation. Practice each day on putting your best foot forward and approaching everyone and everything with a kind attitude.

You will be amazed at the “flies” you will attract!