Understanding the power of our word.
I recently read something stating that on average, we smile 20 times a day. That’s 576,000 times in your lifetime if you’re on God’s green earth until you’re 80. Even more, a ‘happier’ person may smile closer to 50 times a day. 50! This got me thinking… what if by the simple act of being kinder to others, I could up someone’s smile quota?
So, how do we do this?
I believe that body language, eye contact, our voice, our word — are the most powerful tools. Maybe it’s just something as simple as sending a smile and a nod a strangers way. Have you ever decided not to avert your gaze with someone passing by and instead look right at them and smile? If you have done this, were you surprised at how their face lit up or how they even smiled back? I get chills just writing about it! What if we stopped speculating about who that person is, and just… smiled at them.
Now, before we dive into the art of compliment giving, let’s touch first, on the fact that there is a difference between a compliment, and a genuine compliment. Heck, I’ll take any compliment I can get, even if that person is yanking my chain and really thinks my new hair colour is atrocious. But, when it comes to compliment giving, I always try to remember the old saying, “mean what you say, and say what you mean.” Chances are, the person will feel the lack of authenticity, which tends to have the opposite effect. Whomp whomp… Of course, on the flip side of that, we could get into self-worth and assuming what that person said is true rather then jump directly to self-criticism. For example, someone says, “oh you look great today!” even though you haven’t showered in three days and you used your entire bottle of dry shampoo this morning. Rather than thinking “oh RIGHT” — why not try accepting the fact that you are just f’ing beautiful. That person sure thought so… it’s about time you did too! But, that chat is for another day.
Today, my first question is this — can you accept a compliment?
When I started dating my husband in 2012, I was 22 and a self-proclaimed ‘terrible compliment acceptor.’ He would shower me with compliments, and I would reply with the usual, “Stop. Stopppppp that. No way!” The list goes on. Finally, after some time, he called me out. “Can’t you just say thank you? I am not asking you your opinion… I am telling you what I think” he said.
His comment still sits with me today… eight years later. I don’t know why I couldn’t just say “thank you.” Here I was, a young, confident woman. So why couldn’t I just appreciate the nice words? Why can’t you? Is it because we are in fact insecure? Or maybe we are just so uncomfortable with being told something kind.
[Insert hand under chin contemplating emoji here]
Since this small moment of self awareness, I have spent the last well, nearly decade, practicing the skill of saying, “thank you” in response to a compliment — regardless of how I may feel about it in the moment. And you know what? You start to believe it! Hey… maybe my derrière does look great in these jeans. Or wow, that’s really special that my friend loves how I make them laugh!
In addition to accepting a compliment, I’ve decided to try to give them more — equally as uncomfortable at times. But, I ask you. How many times have you thought something nice about someone and not said it out loud? What if you started vocalizing all of those kind thoughts?
I’ve read a lot about genuine vs. non-genuine compliments, and I’m not sure I agree with this terminology. Who’s to say “ I love your shirt!” isn’t genuine? No, I like to use the term “deep” instead of “genuine.” For someone you don’t know that well, a less deep, but kind compliment, like “great shoes!” may make their day! But, with friends and loved ones, I challenge you to go deeper. Think about how the person makes you feel, and tell them! For example, “I love how you always make me feel special, and hanging out with you is the highlight of my week!” BOOM! Did you see that? That, my friends, was a LOVE-SPLOSION.
Studies have been done, showing that compliments (and insults) can affect someone for a lifetime. Sound familiar? Still dwelling on that snarky comment from when you were a kid that made you feel like crap? Still letting their harsh words affect how you see yourself? Imagine, now that you know the impact of our word, if you could pass along something kind instead. What if what you said to someone would be something that would positively impact them for years to come? Maybe they held onto it so deeply, that it was even something that lifted them up when they were having a bad day. I think that is kind of amazing. If we all understood the profound impact we could have on someone’s life with our word, what changes would we make?
Imagine the difference we could make in the world with the simple act of being kind to each other. And, even better yet — being vocal about how rad we all are. So, go on, my wonderful reader, and pay someone a compliment today. Try for two tomorrow, three the next day… until all you are is a babbling spout of positivity!
I, for starters, think you’re pretty awesome.