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Several years ago, Linda and I were helping a client of mine build her family’s straw bale home in Grand Junction, Colorado. When I arrived for the first time, my client remarked to me in private on how beautiful Linda was. She absolutely glowed with admiration. She also phrased it as if it were a personal triumph for me to have “snagged” such a beautiful woman. (She didn’t use those words. That’s my own translation.)
Her compliments about me and Linda changed my life, almost overnight. Hard to imagine, isn’t it?
How did it change my life?
It dramatically shifted the way I looked at and thought about Linda. Sure, I thought she was attractive. But I don’t think I’d ever appreciated just how beautiful she was and what a prize I had. I think I was too busy focusing on her faults — a problem of mine since I started dating. (But that’s another issue.)
The shift in my perspective also changed our relationship. Truthfully, Linda and I had been on a rocky path since day one. Most of the problem was mine and was due to my erosive habit of looking for fault.
Something clicked in me at that moment, however, and from that point forward, I began to enjoy an entirely different perspective. I began to think of myself as privileged. You see, Linda’s not only beautiful to me, but she is also one of the kindest people I’ve ever known.
Other compliments I’ve received over the years helped me as well in other ways — for instance, battling that nagging sense of inferiority that has plagued me most of my life. Most compliments sank in slowly, but eventually they did transform my disapproving self.
Over the years, I’ve learned to compliment people, too, and freely.
I’ve learned to compliment others even when I felt a bit jealous at their accomplishments.
It’s no great psychological revelation that people thrive on compliments. It bolsters their mood and helps them focus on who they really are, what they’re doing right, and what they’ve accomplished. It helps them change their perspective about themselves.
Think about how compliments affect you. If you are like most of us, you love it when people compliment you on your looks, some positive attribute, or accomplishment you’ve made. (If you don’t, you need to let your guard down and let the praise in.)
So, here’s my challenge to you, dear readers, in this new year: let’s all start handing out compliments — lots of them!
Even if you feel a bit of jealousy or unease, start complimenting those around you for all the positive they do and have done! You’ll be amazed how much easier it becomes, and how much fuller you feel.
So start today.
Try complimenting someone right now — someone near to you. Get on the phone. Call your spouse or your child or a friend or your parent.
Give out many compliments every day.
What you may find is that complimenting others is a gift you give them, but like so many gifts you give, you also receive, enormously.
One huge benefit is that others warm up to you more quickly. They bond more strongly to one who is supportive.
Complimenting others has another benefit to you. It puts your mind on the alert for what is good around you — what is good in people, especially. Your life will feel fuller, as you realize what marvelously gifted, generous, kind, and loving souls grace your life!
Contributing editor Dan Chiras is a renewable energy and green homes expert who has spent a lifetime learning life’s lessons, which he shares in his popular blog, Dan Chiras on Loving Life. He’s the founder and director of The Evergreen Institute and president of Sustainable Systems Design. Contact him by visiting his website or finding him on Google+.