Tuesday, November 04, 2008

soapbox #4: let us oft speak kind words

When I was twelve or thirteen, one of my Personal Progress goals was to pay someone a compliment every day for a month (this was back in the day before they revamped the system). I finished my thirty days of saying nice things, and found that I'd formed a habit.

Isn't it kind of sad when you make a special effort to look nice, or you wear a new outfit, and nobody says anything? I hate that feeling. That's why I tend to compliment-gush. It always makes me so happy when someone says something nice to me, whether it's about the way I look or something I've done or something I'm in the process of doing. It makes me feel happy and bouncy for the rest of the day--or even longer. A kind word from someone can completely turn my mood around. It makes me feel appreciated. It makes me feel like people notice the efforts I make, whether it's Abigail thanking me for "dis nice dinner," or Neil commenting on the fact that I mopped the kitchen, or someone admiring a new haircut. Being complimented is the emotional version of endorphins; it gives you a little high. A little more zest. A bit more spring in your stride.

Sadly, I think all too often we keep our kind thoughts to ourselves. How often do you think something nice and not say it--whether it's because you don't know the person, or you feel like they would think you're silly for saying it, or because you're just out of the habit? I love paying compliments to strangers because it's so unexpected; it really magnifies what you're saying because you don't even know them and thereby have an "obligation" to be nice. On the flip side of this, sometimes we forget to compliment our families and closest friends because we take them for granted.

So there's my challenge for you--go out of your way to compliment those around you, strangers and spouses alike. Make it a habit. Spread happiness and confidence wherever you go.

And on that note, what is your all-time favorite compliment? The one that really made you feel special? That you still remember word-for-word? That lifts your mood whenever you remember it, and makes you resolve to live up to it?

Please share your comments--I'm going to take a hiatus from blogging for awhile, but I would really love to read what you have to say. I need a little vicarious pick-me-up.


Kayli said...

I'm afraid I'm much better (worse?) at remembering things people say that are offensive. Such as, once a YW leader who had a little girl named Kayli said to me, "I'm not sure I'm glad I named my daughter Kayli if she's going to act like you." Hmmm, I've always wondered what possessed her to say something like that.
And one time my 5th grade teacher called me an anti-social nerd, because I was reading a book again instead of hanging out with the other kids. That didn't bother me really, cause he was a funny dude and I guess being a nerd isn't too offensive to me. :)

But, I was going to say, my sister once posted about compliments too, so here's the link if you want to read her thoughts:

danielle said...

I really appreciate this perspective. Over the years there have been so many teachers that I have wanted to write a letter to and thank, but never did. One seminary teacher in particular. Thanks for this reminder.

Lindsey said...

Hi Rach. I totally agree. The best compliment I have ever received was last week... I am 34 weeks prego and feeling... well, you know how I'm feeling! I was getting ready for bed, and my husband (I swear someone paid him!) said, "You know you have the cutest pregnant figure. You could be one of those models." Yea! He was inspired. I really felt so much better for a few days. I don't think he even knows how much that meant to me. Silly little thing that now sounds like I am conceited or something, but I think everyone pregnant woman needs a little flattery sometimes.

Katrina said...

One of the best compliments I've ever gotten was from Jared when we were dating. He told me that my true genius is life is balance. There was more to it than that but basically it showed me that he really got me and understood me but he also saw how I wasn't perfect in many ways and he didn't have an unrealistic perception of me. I'm not sure if this explanation makes any sense but it was a great compliment. :-)

Meghan said...

I had a critique in a church education class, and the person commented on how much I cared about people and could adapt to their level so that they felt comfortable. I expected her to say I was really smart or confident, and to hear her instead observe my love for people & desire to help them made me feel that she had looked deeply into my heart, not just the surface stuff that intimidates some people.

danielle said...

Sorry this isn't a comment..more of a comment to your comment. I am going to make more sizes...I just kind of listed that one to see how the whole thing works. However, I am interested to hear if you have any particular size of interest, or other pointers for that matter. Like does your littlest girl still wear onesies? I don't know these things since mine is only six months old.

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