World Kindness Day: Positive Friends

By Cory McCoy

In recognition of World Kindness Day, the Sources of Strength team at Next Step is recognizing positive friends, and the impact they have on our lives.

With Sources we focus on eight strengths to help students build hope, help and strength. Over the next few weeks we will be highlighting these strengths, and discussing how they can help us build hope and resiliency.

“Positive friends lift us up, make us laugh, are honest with us and are there when we need them.”

Who comes to mind when you think of a positive friend? What qualities do they have? I bet kindness is one of them.

When I think of a friend who spreads positivity and kindness, one of the first faces I see in my mind is my friend Tashara Parker. If you’re from East Texas you’ve probably seen her. Tashara is an anchor on WFAA’s morning show, and spent a few years in Tyler anchoring for KYTX CBS19. She’s also a soror, mentor, role model, community leader and professor. But Tashara always seems to have time to make the people around her feel seen and valued.

Last year when she announced her departure from the Tyler airwaves, the City of Tyler proclaimed Monday, Oct. 28, 2019 as Tashara Parker Day in recognition of the joy and love she shared with the community.

That type of kindness is contagious, and it makes us more conscious of how we treat others in our lives. Whether it’s using your platform to advocate for those without one or simply checking in, these little things can have big benefits for our mental health.

Researchers at The Mayo Clinic found that Loving Kindness Meditation, which focuses on warm, tender thoughts of loved ones can help reduce pain and tension from migraines, reduce symptoms of depression and even help slow the aging process.

Those same researchers also looked how fast kindness can spread. One person picking up the tab in line for coffee in Winnipeg, Manitoba reportedly led to a chain reaction of more than 225 customers keeping it going.

There’s no single “right way” to spread kindness and love. Kindness can look like a lot of things, and manifest in many ways.

We asked the Mental Health team to tell us about their positive friends and how they spread kindness. Here are some of the amazing people they highlighted:

Mental Health Coordinator Haley Nguyen said her friend Libbria Moore is a joy to be around, and has been with her through the good and the bad.

“Libbria is a vivacious mom. She has a huge heart, and she will be there for people in any need. I can’t remember a time in my life that I did not call Libbria in a time of need. We have known each other since first grade, and our bond has grown stronger over the years. I know I can always count on her for a good laugh or just an ear to vent to. She is a great friend, and she is the positive person everyone needs in their life.”

Program Specialist Daniel Griffith highlighted his friend Justin Ruelle, who is always happy to lend an ear.

“Justin has been a great friend to talk with during tough times, and is always good for a humorous story to boost your spirits. He’s made a positive impact on numerous students as a high school teacher and is also a loving husband and devoted father.”

(Check out this Edutopia article about building your active listening skills)

Counseling Program Director Anna Crain said her friend Dami Adesina not only fills every room with joy, but also is the most intentional human she knows.

“Dami is not only the Vice Principal for a Public Charter School in Houston, but is also a Licensed Professional Counselor, small business owner, mom and wife. Dami is a proud Nigerian woman who deeply believes in social justice and caring for others. When Anna’s wedding was postponed earlier this year, due to COVID Dami used her skills as a baker(this is her small business) to create a beautiful wedding cake to help Anna and her husband celebrate despite the circumstances. She is caring, intentional and is always there for her friends. Feel Free to follow her small business on social media @Sweetlola_11.”

(Check out this post from Kindlab about the benefits of intentionality)

 

 About Sources of Strength

Our mission is to help people “recover out loud” and share the strength they used to get through difficult times in their life.

Sources of Strength is a strength-based comprehensive wellness program that focuses on suicide prevention but impacts other issues such as substance abuse and violence. The program is based on a relational connections model that uses teams of peer leaders mentored by adult advisors to change peer social norms about help seeking and encourages students to individually assess and develop strengths in their life.

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