The Power of Praise

Edward Grinnan learns that a positive attitude is a spiritual gift.

by - Posted on Apr 28, 2011

Edward Grinnan and dog, Millie

He hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God. . .  Psalm 40:3

My neighbor Lonnie is quite a character. Ask her what kind of day she’s having and get ready for an earful. Shopkeepers roll their eyes and neighbors sometimes avoid her. She has a good heart, really. It’s just that she can be so negative sometimes. I don’t think she even realizes she’s doing it.

So everyone was surprised a while back when Lonnie appeared walking a fluffy little dog by the name of . . . Fluffy. The dog had been given as a companion to a sick relative of Lonnie’s, but the relative had grown too ill to care for it. “So it looks like I’m stuck with him!” she said.

Fluffy was a good dog but not used to a leash, so there was a lot of pulling and tugging between Lonnie and Fluffy. Lonnie was frustrated, and the dog was confused. “Bad dog, Fluffy!” I would hear Lonnie shouting at him, with Millie, my golden retriever, looking on in disapproval. No, Lonnie and Fluffy were not a happy pair. Finally someone recommended a dog trainer to Lonnie.

The trainer joined Lonnie and Fluffy on their morning walks. “Lonnie,” she preached, “positive reinforcement is what’s most effective. Praise good behavior, ignore bad and never lose your patience or act negative. Never say bad and always praise.”

Praise? I don’t think I’d ever heard such a thing come out of Lonnie’s mouth. Yet soon enough, there she was on the street with Fluffy, saying “Good dog, good dog!” in the “happy voice” the trainer taught her whenever Fluffy complied with proper leash etiquette. Soon enough, Fluffy was walking like a champion.

Lonnie and Fluffy are now inseparable. There’s something else too: Lonnie’s not quite so grumpy anymore. She lights up when people stop to admire Fluffy, and she’s not so quick to go negative during a conversation. Giving praise has changed her.

Father, a positive attitude is one of the greatest spiritual gifts. Help me to remember: Praise! Praise! Praise!

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