I was reminded of a powerful lesson this past weekend.
On Sunday my wife Gimalle and I were in the supermarket doing our weekly grocery shopping.
My job is to push the cart and say nothing. I am not to ask questions nor make suggestions, just push the cart.
Almost 20 years of this ritual has turned me into a pretty good cart pusher; so good in fact that I can multitask with great efficiency.
I can skillfully push the cart in the selected direction while paying great attention to everything else going on around me.
As I rounded a corner into an aisle, skilfully avoiding a cart being pushed by someone who clearly lacked my navigation skills, I saw an elderly lady bend down to talk to a little girl who was perhaps five or six years old.
“That is such a beautiful dress,” she said to the little girl with a huge smile causing this gorgeous young lady to produce a grin that proverbially stretched from ear to ear. The obvious pride felt by this young lady was blatantly apparent as she stammered a polite, “thank you”.
Seeing this reminded me of how much joy we can all bring into the lives of others and, simultaneously enjoy the good feelings that go along with frequent application of The Habit of Paying Compliments.
If we choose to take time each day and seek sincere opportunities for saying complimentary statements to other people we may never know how much we have contributed to making the world a slightly better place.
The Habit of Paying Compliments is one of the easiest to acquire as most often it will provide us with immediate feedback – instant gratification – telling us we have done something good.
I was first introduced to The Habit of Paying Compliments years ago by an elderly, wheel chair bound lady I used to see frequently around the neighbourhood back in the days when I lived in Vancouver.
My first encounter with her took place as we were walking by each other on the street. I was deep in thought and was broken out of my reverie be a cheerful voice saying, “It is a very lovely shirt you are wearing, young man.”
I stopped for a moment to say thank you and we started to chat.
She told me that years of ceaseless progression of an arthritic condition had finally caused her to be bound to a wheelchair and that her days were filled with enduring the pain.
The bright moments in her day, she told me, came whenever she found occasion to offer a sincere compliment to another person for, as she explained, it was in that brief moment that the pain would disappear and she would feel whole again.
The Habit of Paying Compliments paid such huge dividends to this lady while, at the same time, making someone else’s day, that I began to try it for myself.
Once I got over the feelings of awkwardness I too began experiencing the joy that comes from making someone else feel good and while I wish I could truthfully say that I have faithfully maintained that habit each day in the intervening years since meeting that fine lady. I have not always remembered to do so.
The look on that young child’s face in the store on Sunday reminded me of the importance of converting an occasional act into a daily habit and while it is only been three days since then, I have sought to do so at least three times each day and frankly, it really is easy work.
I encourage each of you to try this. At least once a day look for a sincere and genuine opportunity to offer praise. Then stand back and enjoy the experience.
Once you have done this a few times please let me know how easy this is and how good you felt while doing it.
Imagine for a moment a world in which we all did this, and how that simple act repeated billions of times each day would make our already great planet even greater.
Let’s do this.
Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.