This is the one hundredth post at On the Other Hand! I’m so proud to have reached this milestone. Thank you all for reading and leaving comments over the last seven months.
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Ok, onto today’s topic:
Why You Should Keep Track of Compliments
A friend mentioned recently how much easier it is for her to remember negative thoughts and experiences than it is positive ones. My brain works the same way. Compliments and happy memories seem to fade more quickly than criticism or painful or embarrassing experiences.
Years ago I read a book about joy written by a woman who over a short course of time buried one son and had another son come out of the closet (who was subsequently disowned by their church, community and extended family) while she struggled with a stubborn, years-long bout of depression.*
At a certain point she ran out of things in this world to feel happy about. For this I can’t blame her. Any one of these events would be a challenge. To live through all three simultaneously must have been incredibly difficult! Her response to this chapter in her life was to create something called a joy box: a box filled with cartoons, jokes, encouraging notes from friends and anything else that made her smile.
*It’s been many years since I’ve read this book. Hopefully I’m remembering the details correctly!
About a decade ago I adapted this idea and began sporadically keeping track of compliments. I stopped doing it for several years but recently took the practice up again. Here are three reasons why you should do the same:
- It helps you remember the nice things others have said about you. There’s nothing like going back and re-reading a list of compliments at the end of a hard day.
- It highlights your strengths. Once the compliments begin to accumulate you’ll probably begin to notice that the same traits or abilities are mentioned over and over again. What is even better, though, is when one or two people pick up on something that you didn’t realize was so deeply appreciated.
- It reminds you to pass compliments on. Complaining about a person, institution or situation is easy. Noticing the good they bring into your life takes more practice but it’s even more important than pointing out where and when they’ve made mistakes.
I keep my list of compliments in a Word file. Artistically-inclined people may be interested in decorating a cardboard box, manila folder or some other container. If you do end up making something to store your compliments in I’m interested in seeing pictures of it!
Either way, give this a try. It’s enriched my life and I think it will do the same for yours.