Image: © PBS from Flickr

Welcome to the Neighborhood.

A few weeks ago, I was browsing through some videos on YouTube — and I saw something that caught my eye.

A clip of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. Remember that show? It was classic childhood program that featured Fred Rogers — an icon in children’s work for over 60 years.

A comforting nostalgia washed over me. Fred Rogers was a man who dedicated his life to teaching children how to live the right way — with confidence and kindness and care.

His calm, endearing style touched everyone around him — even seasoned TV show hosts!

Mr. Rogers stood for so many good things, so I wanted to explore some of his words and actions that still make a difference today:

On Strength

Confronting our feelings and giving them appropriate expression always takes strength, not weakness. It takes strength to acknowledge our anger, and sometimes more strength yet to curb the aggressive urges anger may bring and to channel them into nonviolent outlets. It takes strength to face our sadness and to grieve and to let our grief and our anger flow in tears when they need to. It takes strength to talk about our feelings and to reach out for help and comfort when we need it.”

Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood was the first show I saw as a child that talked openly about emotions. He empowered children to embrace their feelings with respect — including tough, complicated emotions. His secret? Do it in the safety of kindness and warmth. Fred Rogers mastered the ability to listen with love and speak with care — which in turn helped his young listeners think and feel at their own pace.

My takeaway? Have courage to face the full range of your feelings — both good and bad. Explore their weight and complexity, and use that introspection to find ways to manage them. If it gets tough, lean on your loved ones to help you in a warm, safe space.

On Service

“Who in your life has been such a servant to you … who has helped you love the good that grows within you? Let’s just take ten seconds to think of some of those people who have loved us and wanted what was best for us in life–those who have encouraged us to become who we are tonight–just ten seconds of silence…I hope you’re proud of yourself for the times you’ve said “yes,” when all it meant was extra work for you and was seemingly helpful only to someone else.

All of us have a village that played a special part in our lives: friends, parents, teachers, partners and mentors. Mister Rogers, in his acceptance speech into the TV Hall of fame, focused his entire speech on this village. We all stand taller because our village holds us up. Remember that. This commitment of paying it forward creates a powerful system of love that benefits everybody.

My takeaway? Continue to give with your heart and appreciate the love that surrounds you. Helping others — even just a small amount — lifts everyone up.

On Love

“Love and trust, in the space between what’s said and what’s heard in our life, can make all the difference in the world. In the external scheme of things, shining moments are as brief as the twinkling of an eye, yet such twinklings are what eternity is made of — moments when we human beings can say ‘I love you,’ ‘I’m proud of you,’ ‘I forgive you,’ ‘I’m grateful for you.’ That’s what eternity is made of: invisible imperishable good stuff.”

The invisible stuff binds us all together. Fred Rogers believed in that concept so deeply that he practiced it every day in his life. His message? Pour yourself into your relationships — and try to verbalize your love from time to time. And the moments you can’t say it with words, show it with simple actions. Why? Because others can feel it in the spaces and pockets between the words.

My takeaway? In our busy days, remember to take a breath. Sometimes we forget to give our love to the closest around us. Spend a moment to remember and cherish them with a thoughtful word or meaningful action.

Mister Rogers was such a calm, powerful presence in my childhood. And his words still ring as true today as they did all those years ago.

So remember to focus on your strength, service and love — because then it will always be a lovely day in the neighborhood.