You is important

Columnist Shannon McKinnon relays a few words of inspiration from the Kathryn Stockett novel The Help.

I just finished reading Kathryn Stockett’s novel The Help.

It came out three years ago so I’m a little late. In fact, it has already been made into a movie starring Emma Stone, Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer, which I haven’t yet seen. The book gives a telling account of life as an African American maid in Jackson, Mississippi during the 60s. It is always gut wrenching to read about the horrible things humans have done to one another out of ignorance, fear and blind acceptance of so called social norms. It makes you wonder what the hell is wrong with us. And yet it is also uplifting to read about the flipside of humanity and our equal capacity for braveness, love and compassion.

Whenever I finish a really well written book there are bits and pieces that flap along with me long after the book is gathering dust. They ride along like sticky notes stuck to my temple. In this case it’s the words, “You is kind, you is smart, you is important.” These were the words Aibileen spoke over Mae Mobley, the little white girl she cared for. They were delivered daily as a sort of soul balm to make up for how Mae Mobley’s own mother delivered only fault and blame. Aibileen would gently encourage Mae Mobley to repeat the mantra back, “I is kind. I is smart. I is important,” wisely knowing how these words would eventually etch a groove in her brain to help in the dark times ahead.

What a beautiful, powerful thing to be told every day that you is kind, you is smart, you is important even if — especially if — your own mother believes you’re nothing of the kind. We all carry a mantra inside us whether we are aware of it or not. For too many it goes something like “I am stupid, I can’t do it, I never get it right.” Well dropkick those mantras to the curb and throw them under a bus. How do you do that? By taking the time every day to say I am smart, I am kind, I am important. Heck, say it 50 times a day. Does that seem excessive? It shouldn’t. Studies have shown we entertain up to 50,000 thoughts a day and 80 per cent are usually negative, which means 40,000 times a day we think along the lines of “I am stupid, I can’t do it, I never get it right.” Surely we can make the effort to stop ourselves at least 50 times to say something positive instead.

“But it’s not that easy,” you say. It is that easy. Nine little words aren’t that difficult to say. Write them on cards, pencil them on Post-it notes and stencil them on bookmarks. Tack, sprinkle and frame them all over your house as evidence of your worth.

“But I didn’t have someone like Aibileen telling me I was kind, smart and important every day. When I was a kid it felt like I couldn’t do anything right.”

Well, you’re not a kid anymore are you? There’s no future in the past. Quit adding to those 40,000 negative thoughts and get busy subtracting from them instead. The kicker is that positive thinking is almost always based on truth while negative thinking is usually based on lies. Think about it. You’re stupid? You can’t do it? You never get it right? Never? I doubt it. In fact, I bet you’re kind, smart and important.

If you were following a person out of a store and they slipped and fell down would you A) help them up or B) rush over and kick them. If you chose A, you’re kind. If you chose B, well, stop it.

Just the fact that you’re reading this means you’re smart enough to read, though smart comes in so many different guises. You might be smart at cooking, listening to friends or fixing things. Or maybe you’re smart at working with animals, growing a garden or putting a puck in the net. But trust me, you are smart. Everyone is smart at something.

And for sure you’re important. Like Jimmy Stewart’s character in It’s a Wonderful Life you would be shocked at what the world would be like had you never been born. Consider people you have loved who are no longer here. Think about the things they did that made a difference in your life. Well you make a difference too. Every person makes a difference even if it’s simply the time you smiled at a stranger on the bus and unknowingly launched a chain reaction of goodwill that averted a suicide. So say it loud, say it proud and say it often. I am kind, I am smart, I am important. Say it because it’s true.

Shannon McKinnon is a Canadian humour columnist. You can read past columns by visiting

Just Posted

Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Lorne Doerkson
MLA’s CORNER: Rural B.C. needs help now

We only have one shot at lifting the B.C. economy out of the pandemic, so we have to get this right

As a former reporter and editor at the Tribune, Diana French carries on sharing her ideas through her weekly column. (Photo submitted)
FRENCH CONNECTION: Cheering on the Habs

Many westerners were biased against French Canadians years ago

Email letters to
LETTERS: Congratulations to Romeros on JUNO Award win

Fame has not made them more aloof, as it does to some

Jim Hilton pens a column on forestry each week for the Williams Lake Tribune.
FOREST INK: Agroforestry alternative to some commercial forest practices

We do need to seriously look at some of our practices

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

A portion of the George Road wildfire burns near Lytton, B.C. in this Friday, June 18, 2021 handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, BC Wildfire Service *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Blaze near Lytton spread across steep terrain, says BC Wildfire Service

Fire began Wednesday and is suspected to be human-caused, but remains under investigation

Blair Lebsack, owner of RGE RD restaurant, poses for a portrait in the dining room, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. Canadian restaurants are having to find ways to deal with the rising cost of food. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canadian restaurateurs grapple with rising food costs, menu prices expected to rise

Restaurants are a low margin industry, so there’s not a lot of room to work in additional costs

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Fort St. John man arrested after allegedly inviting sexual touching from children

Two children reported the incident to a trusted adult right away

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

Most Read