Killing It With Kindness

Hello my darlings!

When I was in preschool, my mom was running a daycare in our home. She would take the kids she sat for and me off to school every morning.

There was a little boy in that group who was my age, and he was a complete dick.

Every day this jerk of a kid would be horrible to me. He teased me, beat me up, tormented me, all in the back of our damn station wagon.

Quite distraught from this pint-sized bully’s shenanigans, I begged my mom to help. Or at least throw him from the car one day. That’d learn him.

But this was the 80’s and money was crucial to, you know, eating, and my mom couldn’t afford to send the little shit steppin’.

She then gave me the best advice I’ve ever been given in my entire life.

“Find something nice about him. Maybe he acts that way because no one ever tells him the good things about himself. Everyone has something about them worth complimenting.”

I suspect she knew more about this lad’s life than she was willing to tell munchkin-me, and was sending me on a kamikaze mission of do-gooding.

The next day, I was back in the station wagon, and this kid was in full form.

I’ll never forget it. He was right in the middle of a tirade about how stupid/stinky/loser-ish I was, and I looked him square in the mug and said, “You have really pretty blue eyes.”

He was so stunned, he just stared at me for the rest of the ride.

On the way home from school that day, we smooched in the back of that station wagon.

And that’s where it started. My never-wavering belief that a compliment can change everything.

Also, that’s when I was treated to my first, if not wildly age-inappropriate, kiss.

My mom was totally right. Everyone has something about them worth complimenting. Everyone.

And I still follow that rule. No matter where I am, or what I’m doing, I will find something to compliment on whoever I’m with. The cashier at the grocery store? “Oh my gosh, I love your nail polish.” The rude person behind me at the bank? “Dude, that shirt looks amazing on you.”

My rule is, whatever I say has to be true. It can’t just be a random comment to make one. And sometimes, with the snappiest folks, I really have to look to find a redeemable quality.

But I always find one. There truly is something awesome in everyone. Even the people who seem like fart-knockers.

The reactions are incredible. If someone is being horrible to me, whether they are just having a bad day and taking it out on anyone around them, or maybe they are just big, stupid jerks, it stops them in their tracks.

Or if someone is just having a day? The way their faces light up. I’ve watched whole moods turn around in a flash. It’s amazing.

And selfishly, I get a huge buzz off of this. There’s something incredible about seeing someone go from bummed/rude/blank to thrilled in a blink.

Think of any time someone paid you an unexpected compliment? You rode that wave of good feels for awhile, didn’t you? I know when someone says something nice to me it can change the entire mood of my day. And that means whatever I do next has that newly positive vibe carrying through it. Which carries over onto everyone I interact with.

A good mood goes a looooooong way.

I’ve noticed that most people don’t hear the good things about themselves often enough. Sure, we all have friends that tell us to keep our chins high, but I don’t think anything compares to a kind word from a total stranger.

Our friends and family love us, they can become conditioned to our presence. It’s not that we don’t trust their assessments, but when it comes from a new person? There’s no doubt. This isn’t someone you know, this isn’t a person who has any reason to say something nice to you other than they just felt so compelled by whatever great thing they saw, they had to share it.

There’s nothing to gain, there’s nothing to lose. It’s freaking marvelous.

In my 30-ish years of practicing this little social experiment, I’ve never once had anyone react with anything but actual happiness/gratefulness/astonishment in that moment.

I will say there’s a slight flip-side to this. There are people out there, famous people, successful people, people who are in a position to help others with their career, etc, these people are so used to having people suck up to them they’ve become a little numb, even annoyed by hearing a compliment.

Alas, I can’t stop, nor would I ever want to. It’s in my coding now. See something great? Say so. I’ll never regret doing it, and I’ll not be contained when something makes me SQUEE.

My desire to spread the glee isn’t influenced by status or importance or anything at all. I just like to see people smile.Β Everyone I talk to is just as important as the next, no matter who they are in life. If I’m to be a fangirl, I’ll gladly be one for everyone I meet.

And okay, I’m not saying every compliment is going to end with you getting all kissy-face with a pretty-eyed boy in the back of a bitchin’ station wagon, but I still think it’s worth the minuscule amount of effort to make someone’s day.

If you’re so inclined, give it a shot. I promise you’ll carry those happy faces with you for ages.

And also, your hair is looking particularly lovely today.

Until next time,

Peace, Love, and Pretty Blue Eyes

8 Comments

  1. Wow! I abso-fricking-lutely LOVED reading this!!!! It’s so my mantra nowadays and I totally get off on it too! πŸ™‚ You’re the sunshine in my inbox today and every day!

    Kindness, Fizzygrrl- style (gotta make a t-shirt with this logo on it)

    πŸ˜‰

  2. Such a nice post. I do this, too, but not often enough.

    My mom’s husband was recently admitted to a nursing home. It can be a depressing environment. There is one woman there, Barbara, who will sit at the same table in the lobby a lot of times. She usually only has one visitor a month and you can just sense she is starving for human interaction. The last time I was there, I noticed her nails were polished. I smiled and said, “Barbara, I really like your pink nail polish. It’s so pretty.” The smile I received was such a wonderful reward. It didn’t just make her day, it made mine.

    Keep being your wonderful self, Summer. And I’ll try to follow your example and spread more sunshine on a daily basis.

  3. SUMMER. I do this too. And it 100% does make a world of difference. I don’t do shallow or empty compliments, but telling someone she has awesome earrings? Or a guy that a shirt looks great on him? Man, it can turn around a person’s whole day. And it’s a small bit of magic to see someone’s face just…light up. The little things totally make a difference.

    I just love this post. It made ME happy. And, in case I haven’t said it lately, I love you — and I’m grateful as shit to know you. <3

  4. Holy crap woman! Totally wasn’t expecting the kiss and my tea almost spewed out my nose! I so love your posts Summer:-)

  5. Heather, I LOVE that you took the time to write my life philosophy for me! I especially try to compliment eyes or smile since people seem to really love getting that particular compliment. My favorite place to dispense compliments is at the drive-through window at a fast food (yes, I admit it) place, where random $5/10 tips truly light up a day, too. We so often forget that people have those basic needs to be met; approval in even small measures is so critical! Wish I’d had your wisdom at your age!

  6. And this, lovely lady, is why I follow you. You are wise beyond your years. I can see the brightness of your soul all the way in CT πŸ™‚

  7. A perfect message for every day … loved it. Your mom was very wise and so were you in following her advice! πŸ™‚

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