We should say nice things to people

 
What would you say to your friend?
 

This morning I woke up with a warm fuzzy feeling in my heart. It started last night and lasted all the way to this morning. It's still around, half a day later, and I think it won't go away for a while.

You see, I received a compliment. It started a little hot flame of joy in my heart last night and it has been the fuel for happiness today.

Three years ago, our playgroup community of young parents was blessed to have a new addition in the form of L, a vivacious, generous and oh-so-glamorous Latin woman, the mother of a child similar in age to my youngest. The day she pushed open the doors of the hall with her toddler in tow, we Aussie mums gasped in admiration. The hair! The outfit! The... well, everything.

The best thing was, she wasn't a snot. L turned out to be a fun-loving, kind and thoughtful friend to many of us. Rather than get bitter about how her hair always looked glossy (she says it's down to Pantene but I think it's probably down to the fact that she takes a bit more care than most of us do) we enjoyed seeing her heels and her frocks and her quirky, artistic decor and her amazingly wrapped children's birthday presents. 

Anyway, dear L is leaving us. And to say goodbye, a little group of us headed out for dinner. It was pleasant and friendly and we enjoyed the food and the conversation, but at the end, just as I was about to go, she stood up to speak to me on the side. 

"I just have to say this to you," she said. And she proceeded to say two or three of the kindest, most heartfelt things ever. I won't repeat them to you, because, bragging. But I so appreciated them.

I have had a few compliments in my time. The ones that I brush off are the 'oh, wow, so amazing' ones, usually from people who can't sew who think that the little things I make come from some sort of Paris studio. (Not True. At All.) The ones I really, really appreciate are the ones that are specific, personal and from the heart of the compliment giver - that is, when something I have done has impacted that person's life. I also appreciate it when the compliment confirms something that I've been working on at being better at, which is what L's compliment did. It said to me, "Don't give up at this thing you find hard. It's worthwhile doing the work. Other people are benefiting."

The point of this blog post is not to say, "Hey, I got a compliment." The point of this blog post is to remind myself that compliments are a good thing in the world and there should be more of them. Imagine if we said kind, affirming things to each other every day, instead of just at farewell dinners?

Over the last little while I've written about gratitude and speaking thankfulness openly, even when I don't feel like it. Perhaps I could add in to that speaking affirmative and grateful words to others.

Why is it so hard to do? Is it because we feel that by saying something that lifts up another person, we're inadvertently putting ourselves in a lower position? Is it because we'd rather concentrate on our niggles and whinges, giving ourselves that little sense of self-justification and self-righteousness?

Genuine compliments require an emptying of self but a strong sense of where we're grounded. They require an enjoyment of others and the courage to speak truthfully from the heart to another person. We don't all have those qualities, and when we have some of them, we don't have them all the time. (It also goes against the grain. and feels awkward in our mildly cynical 'she'll be roight' Aussie culture. Basically, we look weird.) 

What a difference it could make to someone's life, however, and to our wider society if we all affirmed each other whenever we could. 

Happy travels L. It's been a real pleasure, and I hope we'll meet again. x

Firewheel PressComment