As I was setting the table, Dharma arrived in his usual fashion...making a large sploosh when he lands. After drying myself off a bit, I greeted him, "Hi there Dharma! My, but you're looking fit today! Have you been working out?" Dharma, not one for flattery, flashed me a big grin. "Why yes, Tadpole! Thank you for noticing. It's always nice to have your hard work acknowledged. One of your favorite authors, Mark Twain, once said, 'I can live for two weeks on a good compliment.' And I couldn't agree more. But, Irwin, some frogs pay a compliment like they went deep into their pocket for it. Do you understand what I mean?" So, as I poured the tea, my lesson for the week began.
What was the true meaning of Dharma's message? There's an art to both giving and receiving compliments. Some compliments can feel like the giver is a miser digging deep in his pockets for a few cents to pay for his day-old bread. They sound, and feel, trite; and they certainly don't feel like they're coming from the heart. The, too, we have all had fake compliments paid to us...perhaps we're even guilty of giving a few. They feel fake and often make us feel worse, not better. And that's exactly what the giver intended. A true compliment will make both the giver and the receiver feel good. Dharma explained to me a few of the "rules" for giving and receiving a compliment gracefully.
For the giver: Giving a compliment is easier than accepting one. And a good rule is to simply and sincerely tell the other person, or frog, whenever something complimentary about that person pops into your head...like I did with Dharma this morning. There are other compliments that can be given, as well. Perhaps there's something about this person that you've always admired but never told them; something like their unique ability to be there at the exact moment you need them, Or maybe they are extremely well-organized, or a great parent, etc. Usually, we think that the other person knows how we feel. many times they do. It's nice, however, to hear those words. Rule #1 for giving a compliment, then, is they must be sincere. How you give a compliment is almost as important as what you say. Rule #2 is to always look the receiver straight in the eye when giving a compliment. Without eye contact, the compliment may as well have been given via Facebook or Twitter. Looking the person in the eye will speak volumes about your sincerity.
For the receiver: Receiving a compliment is difficult for most of us. many times, humans will try to deflect attention by putting themselves down a bit. Dharma told me that this is not a graceful response. It can make the giver feel unappreciated or worse yet...dismissed. Rule #1 for the receiver is to simply say "Thank you." Those are the only two words that are necessary. They can be followed with a small phrase similar to Dharma's response, "Thank you for noticing!" or "What a nice thing to say!". As with giving a compliment, it is just as important for the receiver to look the giver straight in the eye when responding. Rule #2 for the receiver; always have direct eye contact with the giver. No blushing or turning your head away or looking down at the floor. Direct eye contact means that your thank you is genuine.
As we finished up our breakfast and tea, Dharma wrapped up our lesson by reminding me of a quote by another of my favorite authors, Miss Marianne Williamson. “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frighten us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous. Actually, who are you not to be? . . . We are all meant to shine, as children do. . . . And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we’re liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” Let others know that you see their light. And let your own light shine. Respond with grace when its noticed.
Compliments are a double-sided coin. One the one side, we must appreciate ourselves enough to be able to accept compliments with grace. On the other side, we must appreciate others enough to give them honest and sincere compliments.
Before Dharma hopped off my lily pad until next week, I looked him straight in the eyes and said with deep affection and honesty, "Sir, I don't always tell you, but I think you are an amazing teacher and I am so grateful for your weekly lessons. They really do make my life much better." Quietly, Dharma replied, "Thank you, Irwin. That means a great deal." And with that, he was gone until next Wednesday.
Today is National Compliment Day. Human beings like to be unique, original. Strive to compliment what makes a person stand out from the rest. Take the time to reflect on what you admire about the person and be sincere when giving your compliment. Don't forget to be gracious, too, when you're on the receiving end of the compliment. Use #NationalComplimentDay on all your social media.
Until tomorrow, I wish you all Peace. And may I just say...You're looking fabulous today!