04/07/2014 03:35 pm ET Updated Jun 07, 2014

Go Ahead -- Make Someone's Day

No one can make you feel bad about yourself, as the saying goes, without your permission. But other people can help you feel better about yourself, if you let them.

Here are three seemingly insignificant moments that forever changed how I look at myself. They helped me so much I'm constantly on the lookout for a way to pay those kindnesses forward -- one reason I'm sharing them with you...

Use word substitutions.

You know how when you go to the doctor or dentist she often gives you something to relax so whatever it is doesn't hurt as much?

A while back on one of those visits I relaxed so much I fell asleep. It wasn't a deep sleep. It was so light, in fact, I realized I was asleep -- and I knew the whirring I heard probably wasn't the equipment. It was me.

When I came to I was embarrassed at being caught snoring.

My doctor corrected me.

"You were purring," he said.


Can you imagine how many times we've smiled about that, since? It made me think no matter what happens, there's always a way to frame it that makes you feel a little better.

Talk about healing.

Show, don't tell.

One day my high school drafting teacher walked up next to me while I worked on a drawing. He held his thumbs out so I could see where he'd picked at the cuticles until they were raw. I was stunned by what I recognized immediately as compassion.

My nails were a mess.

But without a word, he made me feel a little less ashamed. So much less alone in the world.

See the whole person, not just what irritates you about her.

When we started doing the talk show our podcasts were hosted on our flagship radio station's web site. When there was a typo in those podcast headers, I'd have to bring it to the attention of someone at the radio station instead of fixing it myself.

"I wish I could remove the part of my brain that cares about this kind of thing," I told the point man at the station. I hated bugging him to fix the typos -- but I didn't know how to let go of them, either.

When I launched into my latest apology for it, here's what my friend said: "If we got rid of that, we'd also be getting rid of what we like about you."

Isn't that beautiful?

It took me hours -- really, hours -- to realize they guy had admitted my eagle eye for typos wasn't something he relished.

Imagine if he'd said instead, "Yeah, it's annoying. But what can you do?"

I know one thing. I'd still be sweating it!

You don't have to be careful with your word choices. But what could it hurt? It doesn't cost you a thing, and the mood lift you'll bestow is priceless.