As I described in an earlier post, summer (sleepaway) camp was a formative experience for me. It was the first time in my young life I felt truly independent. It got me out of my sheltered world into a still-sheltered-but-not-as-sheltered place where vegetarians and musicians and people with dreadlocks and counselors with tatoos lived. But most importantly, it reinforced that much of life’s meaning and joy comes from people and relationships and communities they form. This focus on people wasn’t something we explicitly talked about; it was just one of the cultural norms of the camp. It was the way people showed up every day. One of the practical and concrete ways this manifested was overwhelmingly simple: every person in the 12-person tent taped a brown paper lunch bag onto her metal bed frame. The purpose of the bag was to collect “warm fuzzies,” or short notes from tentmates about what makes them so awesome. For example, warm fuzzies said things like “thank you for taking time to ask how I feel about being adopted,” or “I think you’re a beautiful singer,” or “I can’t believe you swam all the way across the lake this morning!”
I’ve thought about this exercise many times over the years, and wondered how this simple concept of proactive feedback could become more of a mainstay in our lives. Maybe because of the warm fuzzy experience or maybe because “words of affirmation” are my leading love language*, I’ve tried to carry this through in my personal relationships. Early in our relationship, I used to leave little handwritten love notes all over the place — in my husband’s suitcase, pocket, computer case, backpack, car, etc. He started doing the same (maybe out of guilt, but I’ll take it), and my heart would leap when I’d find a warm fuzzy stuck on the mirror or on a bottle of juice in the fridge. But as time has gone on and our lives have gotten more complicated, I’ve realized I barely ever do this anymore.
So in the spirit of wellness and connection and gratitude, I’m resurrecting it — for my husband and for my kids (what kid doesn’t like a love note in their lunch box once in a while). This practice — a short message scrawled on a post-it — is for me, an easy and meaningful way to tell people I care about how awesome they are. It can take less than a minute and can totally change someone’s day. So if you do one thing today to support your relationships in a new way, give someone a warm fuzzy. It might make their day — and yours — a whole lot better.
*If you’re not familiar with the concept of love languages, it can be a great relationship-building exercise. You can learn more here.