Mark Ballard

The power of words and positivity

Words are so powerful! They’re just letters grouped together that can give someone a smile when they need it most, or slice like a knife leaving egos bruised and hearts broken.

We need to be careful how we use words because once uttered, they can’t be retrieved.

Just the other night while having dinner at a restaurant, my wife, Debra, used words in a positive and successful way. “You have the prettiest skin. It is just glowing,” she said to the waiter when he approached our table. Totally surprised, you could literally see the expression on his face change into a broad smile.

It was a wonderful thing to witness. With just a few words, Debra made our waiter’s day. Humble and kind already, those words gave him a little spark that ignited his spirit. We all know that feeling. Everyone loves a compliment. It puts extra pep in our step and lifts us a little higher. The benefits of a compliment linger much longer than the words.

Each of us has the power to make someone else’s day and sometimes words are not needed. Debra and I were dining at a nice restaurant several months ago celebrating our anniversary when our special night became even more outstanding.

At the end of our meal, I asked for our check. “It’s been completely taken care of,” the waitress told us. The person who paid it chose to handle it anonymously, which in many ways means so much more. When someone wants no credit or fanfare for their actions, then you know their gift came from a sincere place.

Not everyone can pay for an expensive meal, but we can easily offer a compliment or share a smile. It’s amazing how positive words and actions affect more than just the recipients. They have two-fold benefits, which leave the giver of positivity receiving more.

Every one of us knows the special feeling that sweeps over us when we choose to brighten someone else’s day. It is both magical and heartwarming.

Just as powerful — if not more so — negative words and actions leave lasting scars on the people in their path.

At the gym the other day, a conversation began about weight issues. A lady shared with us a recent incident where someone told her she was fat. She said she hung her head and cried all the way home. Having had weight issues my entire life, I can still remember hateful comments made to me. Unfiltered words hurled at others are like bullets that not only pierce the heart but leave lasting scars.

The other day, I decided I would try a simple experiment. I smiled at everyone in my path — in the grocery store, in line at the post office or just stopped beside someone at a red light. When our eyes met, I offered a smile. Most people returned smiles; some kept their stone faces and looked away.

As I thought about the results of my smile experiment, I had to remind myself that I didn’t know what issues the people who didn’t smile were having. We certainly all have days that a smile just doesn’t come even when it is invited by someone else. Still, we must try to make a positive impact on others

Recently, I passed a man sitting on the grass next to his bicycle. The way he had thrown his bike down, he appeared to be distressed. I wondered if he may be overheated as I have been before during my bike rides.

I looped back around to where he was, rolled down my window and asked if he needed any help. “No!” he exclaimed as he dismissed me with a swish of his hand. I drove off a little dismayed.

Later that night, I read a quote that summed up all of this for me. I don’t know who initially said it, but it is a very powerful and positive group of words: “Better to be the one who smiled than the one who didn’t smile back!”

We should all keep smiling and spreading happiness even when it is not reciprocated. It is the little gestures that sometimes make the biggest differences.

Always choose positive over negative. Always offer a smile, a word or a gesture. Always think before speaking. You never know how your positivity will affect someone else’s life.

Mark Ballard’s column runs each week in The Telegraph. Send your questions or comments to P.O. Box 4232, Macon, GA 31208; call 478-757-6877; email; follow him at; or become a subscriber to Mark’s Facebook page.