The Compliment Club

Happy New Year! 

I'm not one of those people who shun this time of year, when we try to make resolutions and set intentions, start the New Year off on the right foot.  Years ago, I went to a party where the host actually made you step through his door with your right foot.  I think humans really benefit from the reflection and ritual that many of us engage in at this time of year.  There's a quality of hope in it that I think is vital.

We were talking in class this week about the power of our thoughts and 5 different ways of engaging with them.  One of my favorite reflections - especially when I catch myself in some dark or negative loop- is "the mind is the author of all things".   The notion that  a) I'm choosing to think this thought and b) I'm choosing the lense through which I'm experiencing this thought.   

  The Buddha said it best:

“All that we are is the result of what we have thought: it is founded on our thoughts and made up of our thoughts. If a man speak or act with an evil thought, suffering follows him as the wheel follows the hoof of the beast that draws the wagon.... If a man speak or act with a good thought, happiness follows him like a shadow that never leaves him.” 

Today I came across a blog post from 2015 by Joy the Baker that struck a cord with me. 

Over the years, I've been included in lots of gratitude lists, spent months doing "random acts of kindness", paying it forward, etc.  This isn't breaking new ground- but NEW isn't what about NEW YEAR is about for me.  It's about REMEMBERING.  We can put tons of reminders in our calendar, schedule all those things that will make life feel juicy and fulfilling.  Problem is, I forget to check my calendar- I miss all those appointments, and the problem for most of us is just that. 

We forget to remember.

The power of a compliment is that you're intentionally looking through the lense of what's good about your life, a person, a situation.  Wasn't it Bing Crosby who sang: 

"You've got to accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative
Latch on to the affirmative
Don't mess with Mister In-Between

I hope to write another post- about the dangers of the "no bad vibes" movement.  This practice is not about spiritual bypass.  It's about discernment.  If things are hard- feel that first.  Then let the optimism lift you up out of the muck so you can carry on.

So I offer you Joy's words below.  Find a friend or two to do this with- wise friends being the whole of the path and all that right?  See if it works for you- don't believe me.

And do check the link and give her blog some love if you feel motivated.  Perhaps that's your first compliment.  See you're off to a great start!

COM•PLI•MENT // noun // a polite expression of praise or admiration.  

COMPLIMENT CLUB, it would follow, is a group of people whom actively, enthusiastically, sincerely, and frequently offer words of praise to the people around them.  My maj Tracy and I came up with Compliment Club as a way of encouraging each other to send good vibes into the world.  It’s not an exclusive club… you should totally hop on in! 

Let’s talk about compliments.  You’ve likely gotten them when you’re wearing a flattering dress, when your hair is flipping the right way at the right time on the right day, when you’ve made an impression on someone… BOOM!  Sometimes they drop a compliment in your lap.  It feels great!  It feels like you’ve been seen and appreciated for your hard work to be a good human.  Right?  

Well… giving is more important that getting.  I think it was Socrates that said that.  Definitely Socrates.  

There are some guidelines for offering compliments.  We can’t just go throwing them around willy-nilly.  Here are the rules of Compliment Club.  Join.  Follow them.  Let’s be better together.  (I sincerely mean that… don’t look at me like I’m crazy.)  

•  First rule of Compliment Club (yes… we can talk about Compliment Club): Look for the positive in other people.  This is imperative.  You can’t offer a sincere compliment if you aren’t looking for the beauty in the people around you.  Naturally, sometimes seeing the light in people is easier than others. In gridlock traffic?  Hard…. very hard to see the good in people.  Behind the lady writing a check in the express lane at the grocery store?  Challenging…. extremely challenging to see the beauty in that situation.  

It’s ok.  Not every moment is the right time for a sincere compliment.  But!  If you’re regularly looking for the good in people, those moments of frustration will likely (hopefully) have less of a tinge.  

•  The second rule of Compliment Club:  Be genuine.  Mean what you say.

Stay away from hyperbole.  Hyperbole is saying things like “oh my gosh you’re the best person in the world.”  An exaggeration.  I mean… they’re probably great, but literally the best person in the world?  Is that accurate?  

I’m guilty of hyperbole.  I think it’s the way of the Internet these days… exaggerating to make things sound like the best, the biggest, the coolest thing EVER.  Hyperbole has no place in a genuine compliment.  It actually makes the compliment rather empty.  

Root yourself in the compliment.  Stand tall in it.  I think we use hyperbole to separate ourselves from the genuine words we really want to say.


•  The third rule of Compliment Club:  Be Specific.  Specifics go a long way.  

People want to be seen and noticed for their efforts in the world.  See them.  Comment on them specifically.  

•  The fourth rule of Compliment Club:  Be heartfelt is how things make you FEEL.  Throw some emotional language into your genuine compliment.  Make yourself vulnerable.  

Here’s one, ” When you stood in line for an hour and bought me every single treat available at Tartine, you made me feel really special. I see so much kindness in you and I really appreciate you.”  

(That was a good day.)  

•  The fifth rule of Compliment Club:  Chill on the back-handed compliments.  Don’t do it.  Rude.  

•  The sixth rule of Compliment Club:  Just go for it!  There’s no time to waste and sometimes the window to offer someone some kindness is short.  

I saw the most lovely old lady walking her dog this afternoon.  I admired her but hesitated.  No compliment.  I lost my chance.  

I suppose the lesson is:  don’t worry about embarrassing yourself.  Life is short.  Say it and mean it! 

•  The seventh rule of Compliment Club:  Don’t expect anything in return.  Everyone absorbs a compliment differently.   Some people feel embarrassed.  Others might want to refute you.  Some with thank you.  Some might back away slowly.  Have no expectations.  Just put your kind words out in the world, let them linger in the air, soak in… and your job is done!  Besides, expecting a compliment in return would make you a jerk and jerks don’t deserve compliments anyway.  

Ultimately, Compliment Club is not about being flashy, outgoing, or overly extroverted… it’s about genuinely liking people, seeing their good, and reflecting their light back to them.  Totally easy.  Go on, have at it!