For over 30 years, starting in 1968, Fred Rogers entertained and enlightened millions of viewers on his popular PBS television program, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. Even now, 50 years later, PBS still airs an animated show created and produced by the Fred Rogers productions called “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood.” The impact of Mister Rogers is undeniable and difficult to measure. Here are three tips from Mister Rogers specifically about love.
Tip #1: “You don’t ever have to do anything sensational for people to love you.”
This is a quote from Mister Roger’s commencement address at Dartmouth College in 2002. He was explaining the meaning behind a song from his popular PBS television program:
“It’s you I like.
It’s not the things you wear.
It’s not the way you do your hair
But it’s you I like.
The way you are right now
The way down deep inside you.
Not the things that hide you.
Not your caps and gowns,
They’re just beside you.
But it’s you I like.
Every part of you.
Your skin, your eyes, your feelings
Whether old or new.
I hope that you remember
Even when you’re feeling blue.
That it’s you I like,
It’s you, yourself
It’s you I like.”
Knowing that we are inherently loved–not because of anything that we have done or accomplished but simply because we are, is one of the most crucial concepts that we learn.
Tip #2: “Love isn’t a state of perfect caring. It’s an active noun- like struggle. To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now.”
I like you just the way you are does not imply that there is no room for change or growth. In fact, as Mister Roger explains, “I don’t think anyone can grow unless he’s loved exactly as he is now, appreciated for what he is rather than what he will be.” Love is the ingredient which allows for any and all positive attributes to flourish and grow.
Tip #3: “When we love a person, we accept him or her exactly as is: the lovely with the unlovely, the strong with the fearful, the true mixed in with the facade, and of course the only way we can do it is by accepting ourselves that way.”
Recognizing and accepting our own strengths and shortcomings allows us to appreciate and accept that the humanness of everyone else and to truly love them. Mister Rogers noted, “What interests me so much about the characters of the Bible is that they make mistakes but God uses them anyways, in important ways. Nobody is perfect, but God can even use our imperfections.”
Mister Rogers’ wisdom about love cannot be understated. Today’s Tuesday Tip is an exercise developed by Mister Rogers that within one minute will enhance your gratitude and cultivate the love that you feel.
Mister Rogers was an advocate for what he called the silent minute. During this minute he would ask that you think about those who have helped you become who you are today. Whether they were near or far away or even in heaven, if they’ve loved you and encouraged you and wanted what was best in life for you he asked that you honor them and devote some thoughts to them during one silent minute. Imagine how grateful they must be that during your silent times you remember how important they are to you.
Try the silent minute exercise and see if your gratitude and love increase. Those 60 seconds can easily end up being your favorite part of your day. In the words of the infamous guru of childhood programing: