I know that I sometimes think compliments, but then get shy and don’t say them. I love giving them, I probably give them out more often than most people because I know they are good! But… It takes some guts, as well as some vulnerability and candor. You inch towards the edge of that daring compliment cliff, look towards the cavernous depths below (it represents the risk: the unpredictable outcome and reaction that will occur), and sometimes you want to run the other way. It’s not easy to give a compliment! Do you find yourself inching toward that compliment, and then backing down? Do you give compliments out of kindness often? We may not think about it, but… I think the value of compliments is absolutely essential for establishing our sense of self, and for self reflection. Out of my experiences, people use compliments genuinely, or they use them very selfishly with ulterior motives to gain what they’d like to. Most of the time it’s difficult to tell the difference, too. The only person who really knows the origin of the compliment is probably the one who gave it. And the trick is, for me, to try to give them truly selflessly and randomly. With no other purpose but to share joy & kindness.
Yesterday I experimented with acts of kindness, by doing just one. I’ve been inspired for awhile by the operationbeautiful.com way of doing random kindness. Basically, they put post-it notes in random places, mostly for women (but hey, why can’t they be for men too? Men can use compliments just as much!), and they say things like “You’re beautiful just the way you are” or a quote that inspires living a full life. I was most inspired when I experienced my own “You are Beautiful” post-it on the inside of a bathroom stall door. It was so simple, yet I had a huge grin on my face and wanted to tell someone.
I always want to know what someone’s reaction will be if I flatter them for no reason, if I just extend myself and show them that I think they’re something special! Because each one of us is. Granted, I don’t really compliment men, and I know men don’t often compliment men either! Ha! But I have found that complimenting women gives you an idea of how that woman feels about herself, personally. Sometimes she receives the compliment you gave her about her hair as if she knew it already. Sometimes she takes the compliment quite seriously and in a negative way, like “Why wouldn’t you like it?” It could also be a case of “I will not take that compliment, it isn’t true, don’t say it!” which can be very frustrating, and which is kind of how I used to take compliments. Then there are times, like what happened to me yesterday, when an individual can take a compliment very well, without being proud, and without shrinking away. It’s a rare thing.
So the random act of complimenting that I did was at a store. There wasn’t anyone in sight, and I didn’t really think about it while I was doing it.. not that much anyhow. But I stood, waiting for whoever was going to ring me up, and I heard a “Hey there!” from one of the aisles. It kind of caught me off guard. Anyhow, she came running up, and she was about my age. But the first thing I thought was that she had the most beautiful skin! She was radiant & naturally beautiful, so I had to say something. I took a second & mustered up the courage, “Did you know that you have gorgeous skin? Were you blessed with that… or is it some beauty secret you’re not telling the rest of us?” She looked at me for one second and then burst out into a huge smile and a big laugh. ”HA! Thank you! No… I guess it’s just like this on its own.” She was still beaming, and her smile was contagious.
She took the compliment graciously, and with humility, yet I could tell she loved it. I wish I could appreciate beauty with all of its uniqueness more often. In others, in myself, and in the world around me. I guess it just takes going out onto that cliff of uncertainty, putting down that guard, and diving headlong into something that we can’t quite have control over.
11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.
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