day 30: the anatomy of a compliment

October 8, 2008


  • pay a stranger a sincere compliment

i’ve been meaning to do this one for a while, i’ve done it very casually a few times this month, but decided to write about this particular occurence.  it was nothing crazy at all:

this past friday marked the near-close of a tiring week.  i can’t say i was in the best mood.  i was probably in a non-mood mood.  yeah, one of those.  i had run out of the office to do something or another and on my way back up to my box aka cubicle i found myself in the elevator with another young lady.

she had on an off white sweater and this awesome periwinkle colored scarf.  she looked so comfy.  and the colors went so well…felt light and airy.  so i decided to tell her: “i really like your scarf and how it complements your sweater.”  she beamed, “thank you!” as she tossed a part of her scarf up in the air, “i always get compliments on this!  i got it for like $15 at gap!”

yessssss.  the victory of a random cheap find complimented.  isn’t that the best?  my little dropling of goodness garnered yet more happy energy from miss lady and in turn made me smile aaaaannnd the circle of goodness thus continues.  rock out.

complimenting strangers, friends, acquaintances, and sometimes even people i don’t quite like much – really anyone – is a habit i formed a while back.  it’s kinda like – why not?  i mean, even with people you don’t particularly like or have consistently had awkward social encounters with, a compliment seriously goes a long way.  try it: next time, tell that weirdo or “mean person” you always see around something sincerely nice about themselves.  get out your marshmallows and watch them warm right up.  aaaoow.

the premise is basic: we spend so much time talking ish that it’s become commonplace.  routine.  accepted.  aka whack.  why not instead take some time to be intentionally proactive in our positivity?  instead of looking at another woman and saying, “awww, damnnnnn.  look at her hair!” why don’t we take some more time to say things like, “hey, girl, those are some dope earrings.”  maybe even try on a huge third-grade cheese after said compliment.

there is something very raw, connecting, and jarring about a random but sincere compliment from a stranger.  i think it’s a beautiful way to color the human experience.

why not go out of our way to tell our sisters how beautiful they look without makeup or show them support for standing their ground in a difficult or compromising public situation?  especially with all the nonsensical preexisting totally unnecessary cattiness amongst us.  forreal, us women need to band the eff together.  uplift each other.  we are all individually dope and there is no reason we can’t be collectively dope.   yes, without hating.  without competition.

how about we thank our brothers we see being good fathers and respectful of women?  good men exist.  let’s let them know they are appreciated and loved.  it’s only through community and consistent support that we can sustain ourselves.  and that doesn’t always mean only our everyday homie/proximal community.  i also mean one-world community.  feeeeeel me?

we can easily observe a lot of goodness walking down the street and take 5 seconds to brighten someone’s day.  no note writing needed.  no long conversations.  no planning.

just presence in the moment and an appreciation for the beauty all around us.


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