January 10, 2018
Okay, let’s take a break from the heavy stuff.
My last couple of posts have been uncomfortably personal. The response has been nice and I thank you, but it’s taking a weird toll on me, which is maybe something I’ll write about later when I understand it better.
Anyway, today I offer a simple bit of advice for anyone who’s feeling a bit down. Or who’s feeling great. The advice: Pay someone a compliment.
It’s amazing how good it feels to make someone else feel good. And thinking about someone else is a great way to take your mind off of whatever personal issues might be triggering you.
I discovered this little secret about ten years ago. I was on a flight to Europe (or a flight back from Europe – my memory is hazy). There was a flight attendant who was really good at her job. She was just personable and friendly and helpful. She smiled a lot. It occurred to me that people in her position probably don’t feel appreciated a lot of the time, so as we were “deplaning” (what a silly word), I smiled at her and said, “You’re really good at this. Thank you.”
She was stunned.
Honestly, I don’t think she knew what to do. What I do know is that she was grateful. I wasn’t feeling down or anything at the time. I was actually feeling pretty good about life, and I shared that energy with her. The compelling thing is that her reaction only enhanced my energy. I’ve known for a long time that there’s something special about service, but it’s easy to forget sometimes that service doesn’t have to mean huge gestures and sacrifices. A simple, timely compliment can be the greatest service of all.
Having said all that, I’ve noticed the results when I’ve been feeling “off” too. The thing about dark thoughts is that they can become a kind of vortex. They spiral. People who are unhappy tend to become self-absorbed, and not in a helpful way. It’s easy to begin cycling about how unworthy or weak or hopeless you are, or how much the world is against you or whatever. You suck yourself down an existential drain and it’s very, very hard to climb back out.
Turning your attention to others is an incredible ladder.
So if you’re sad or depressed or the weather’s giving you the blues, compliment someone today. Do it genuinely. Don’t flatter or flirt or be creepy about it. Just say something nice to another human being as a way of making him or her feel good and pulling yourself out of yourself. You’ll both feel better for it.
And you know what? Maybe that person will do the same thing for someone else. And that person for yet another someone. Someone’s whole life could change because of it.
Possibly even be yours.