Operation Beautiful is an initiative to create a better, more positive attitude for people through the use of simple messages on post-it notes. Years ago, a boyfriend I loved broke my heart and I was devastated. I didn’t know what to do with myself, and somehow, a stroke of luck, the universe looking down on me, something…I found Operation Beautiful. And I started making little post-its of my own and I plastered my school with them. Teachers and students seemed to notice them, but I didn’t tell anyone it had been me until the following year, when I asked some girls to do it when they had a hard time and were seeking ways to find their own positive self image.
In the second semester of the second year of this initiative at our school, one of my kids found out I had initiated the program. Now trust me, I wasn’t the originator of this idea, I only brought it to my school, but it had a larger effect than I ever realized. When that boy found out that I had written all of the notes the first time around, he pulled a ratty old note out of his wallet with my handwriting on it. He told me that one day, he was just kind of moping around, and as he walked out of the boys’ bathroom, he found the note that must have come from the girls’ room. He read it, and he said it made him tear up, so he put it in his wallet because it was just what he needed that day. He carried it for a year and a half after—at least long enough to show me that he had it on that day. He said that he often took it out and looked at it to remind himself of his own worth. That touched me, and I will never forget that moment.
We tried the initiative again this year, and some of the kids in the school community were very negative about it. They didn’t like it. They felt that it was giving trophies out for participation. But there have been moments where I know that some other kids have gotten a note about something they needed to hear. This year, in fact, has been so much more valuable for the adults on this campus to read those notes. I took one out of the blue to our Disciplinarian, and it just happened that at that moment she was embroiled in a heated conversation with a student where neither was winning. She stopped what she was doing and said, “your timing is impeccable.” She glanced at the note, and looked at me, then, “Really.”
I just smiled and walked out, well, because I didn’t have to stay, but really, because that little tiny note that said, “You are good at what you do” reminded her that she had the strength to help this kid, and that this, whatever it was, could be resolved.
It is amazing what a tiny little note of good vibes can do for a person. It is so fascinating how just receiving a bright pink sticky with a sharpied note can change the current in the room. I love to watch the kids read them. I have one a student wrote for me on my bulletin board. Those little notes can really change a mood. They are not to be underestimated.
Years ago when I split up with that man that I was so in love with, Operation Beautiful came to me and helped me through it by helping others. It reduced my pain by forcing my attention onto other people. It worked to soothe student angst in even just one case, and that makes me feel like I did something great.
If you want to know more about Operation Beautiful, go to www.operationbeautiful.com and see the initiative itself. Take it to your place of work, or your apartment building, or to your favorite place to hang out. Don’t be wasteful, but be optimistic. It’s amazing what it does for the self when we give to others.
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