As previously seen on Wit & Delight
Editor’s Note: Megan McCarty penned this article all about compliments in 2019 and we think the message is as fitting as ever. After giving it a read, might I encourage you to offer a compliment to one or a few people in your life? Do it via text, do it via phone call, or do it verbally to the partner, roommate, or kiddo who’s sprawled out next to you on the couch as you read this. It’ll brighten their day (and hopefully, in the process, it’ll brighten yours too).
My yoga instructor is on maternity leave and depression has been doing its But don’t you just wanna stay under the covers? dance, as it annoyingly does. I ate more ice cream this summer than I have since ‘97 and on Day One of a recent vacation I was treated to 50+ bug bites on my butt. Which is all to say I’m not looking my best.
That’s okay. Because my mother said she was proud of me for turning a snowglobe of childhood traumas upside down in therapy. My new boss noticed a skill I’m particularly proud of, a trait an old boss didn’t mention once. My favorite two-year-old whispered to me, unprompted, “I promise to love you forever.”
It goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway: Feeling good physically and having someone compliment you on your looks, well, feels good. The problem is that women often receive more compliments about their earrings, eyebrows, and outfits than the aspects of humanness that really matter. What about our kindness, intelligence, and bravery—anything that takes brains and guts and not a shopping spree?
Take a peek past the vitamin C serums and sea salt spray. We’re not what we look like; we’re how we treat others, how we treat ourselves, how we use courage to elbow our way through the hard decisions. “I love your boots” only goes so far. Thisfar, to be exact. “I love that you make time to visit your grandmother, that’s really thoughtful of you”—now that’s a compliment.
We’re not what we look like; we’re how we treat others, how we treat ourselves, how we use courage to elbow our way through the hard decisions.
Brainstorm with me, will you? Think of the compliments below as a jumping-off point that you can tweak to fit the strong, kind, capable people in your life. Have something to add? Let’s make the comments section below the nicest comments section in the history of the Internet.
Notice how someone reacts under pressure, whether that’s in a high-stakes work situation or wrangling a toddler in meltdown mode. Are they calm, take charge, unflustered? Tell them.
Kindness > everything.
Hurling yourself off the scary and expensive cliff to better yourself can be a lonely process. Tell them you admire how they’re willing to commit to being uncomfortable.
Some people have the ability to make everyone around them instantly feel comfortable or loved or charming. What a gift.
Notice the little skills, the ones that make life easier. Is your friend a master at hosting a casual dinner party? Always parallel parks perfectly? On the first try? Tell them.
Be the best front row comedy show audience for their Fred Armisen impressions, juggling tricks, ability to remember Beanie Babies’ birthdays, or accuracy when guessing a celebrity’s astrological sign. Shoutout to my friend Jess, who has been serenading me with the Spanish version of Christina Aguilera’s “Genie in a Bottle” (or should I say Genio Atrapado?) for a decade and I still tear up laughing.
Parenthood is intrinsically intertwined with guilt. No way around it. An occasional compliment helps negate the feeling that you’re never going to do your kids justice.
Try using this with the kiddos in your life, who really don’t need to hear how cute they are again.
The highest compliment, no?
Now excuse me while I text everyone I know and get a little emotional thinking about all the generous listeners and excellent parallel parkers in my life.
Comments are open. Let’s hear ‘em.
Megan is a writer, editor, etc.-er who muses about life, design and travel for Domino, Lonny, Hunker and more. Her life rules include, but are not limited to: zipper when merging, tip in cash and contribute to your IRA. Be a pal and subscribe to her newsletter Night Vision.
BY Megan McCarty - June 6, 2021
Thank you for being here. For being open to enjoying life’s simple pleasures and looking inward to understand yourself, your neighbors, and your fellow humans! I’m looking forward to chatting with you.