‘Compliments of the season’ is a phrase that’s bandied about a lot in December, isn’t it? I’ve used it myself on occasion, although I do try to be a bit more original. It comes in handy when you’re dealing with someone you don’t know well, and you’re not sure if they celebrate Christmas or not, but two posts on Facebook got me thinking yesterday – shouldn’t compliments be available for every season?
The first post carried the legend, ‘Be an encourager – the world has plenty of critics already.’ I liked, shared, and commented, and thought how very true this is. The newspapers, TV and social media are overflowing with criticism of everything and everyone, but how much actual encouraging stuff do you see? Not all that much, because when people do post the good stuff, they often feel the need to say something like, ‘Here’s something positive for a change,’ or something similar. And good news doesn’t sell papers, unless it’s a royal wedding or baby.
I was still pondering this when another meme showed up on my newsfeed. This one really spoke to me out loud, because it mirrors my own feelings exactly. It went like this:
If you look for something to criticise, you will find it. If you look for something to compliment, you will find that, too. Your choice.
It’s definitely a choice you make. I don’t mean you should glide through life always being happy about everything – that would be extremely irritating for everyone around you. Nor should you habitually accept poor service and bad behaviour rather than risking offending someone or ‘causing a fuss.’ I can, and do, criticise – firmly, fulsomely and fervently – when it’s necessary. I won’t tolerate bad service, rudeness or bullying, and I will state my case and ask for appropriate action from the offender or offenders, whether it’s Tracy at the local bar having a bad day and taking it out on the customers, or big corporations.
However, I don’t go looking for something to complain about, whether I’m shopping, eating out, buying something nice or heading off on holiday. It’s all an adventure in this thing called life, and I expect to enjoy myself. I find that I pretty much always do, because I’m looking for a good time, and if that’s what I get, I compliment the people involved.
Going back to Christmas, I was stunned a couple of years ago when, just after the festivities were over, I called into our local butcher to tell the staff just how much we’d enjoyed our free range turkey crown, Aberdeen Angus beef joint and smoked gammon. The manager was taken aback, because I was only the second person to go in and say how much we’d enjoyed our meat, whereas theyd had complaints that this or that wasn’t right. Some of the complaints were justified, because when you’re serving thousands of customers over a few days with thousands of kilos of meat and other stuff, there’s bound to be the odd thing that slips through the net.
However, sometimes, the complaints were that the joint was not big enough, the turkey was too dry, or even ‘Little Johnny didn’t like it.’ All of these issues were not the butcher’s responsibility – the quantity of meat, the cooking methods, and Little Johnny’s latest food fads are down to the buyer, not the seller. It’s as if some people are looking for something to criticise and someone to blame, because Christmas wasn’t everything they’d thought it would be. It rarely is – because life in general is neither perfectly good, nor perfectly bad. It is what it is, and you can’t change it.
However, you can change your outlook, and you can change your reactions. Look for the good things, because there are plenty of them there, if you look with joy and love for life. Babies, children and dogs live in the now, and enjoy the moment, and all that comes with it. Be more baby, be more dog.
For some time now, I’ve made sure I pay at least one sincere compliment every day. If I can’t do it in person – which I prefer – I’ll do it on social media. And if it’s been a particularly busy or trying day, and I get to bed and realise I haven’t paid anyone a compliment, I’ll tell my dog Paddy what a good boy he is. Even though I do that lots of times a day, it’s pretty much automatic – I do it without thinking about it. Actually considering why you want to say something nice is good for the soul, because it reminds you of the beautiful person you’re talking to, or the lovely thing that just happened. Conscious compliments are the best compliments of all – it’s too easy to just say something nice because you think it’s expected, or because somebody else just did, and you don’t want to be left out.
Sincere compliments are given with no thought of the feedback you may get – they come from the heart, and are all about the person you are complimenting. You want to say something nice to make them feel good, not you. And if they seem awkward about accepting your compliment, maybe that’s just because they’re not used to hearing nice things. So pay them another compliment, and make their day.
Sincere compliments take just a moment to deliver, but they can have a lasting impact on lives. People who feel good about themselves want to spread the love, and they’ll be nice to others, because they remember how you made them feel when you said they had a wonderful smile, or you enjoyed their song on the karaoke, or whatever it was.
Compliments of the season? Let’s make compliments a feature of every season, shall we? Starting now.