“I can live for two months on a good compliment.” Mark Twain
A few years ago, ‘way before the Pandemic, I decided to conduct a little experiment. I randomly thanked and complimented family, friends, and strangers during the month of November. Why November? Usually, we are encouraged to be consciously thankful l during the month because of Thanksgiving. I wanted to see what would happen if I told someone something GOOD unexpectedly or thanked them. It was a huge success and now I always do it during November.
At first, I gave myself a few rules. I would only compliment someone if I truly LIKED something. I would only thank someone if they did something worth thanking. And I would try to do it once a day. At first, it was easy; thanking the checker and bagger at the grocery store or telling someone I liked their haircut. And then it got more difficult because I got pickier. Why did I get pickier? I don’t know but I do know I fought my instincts. And the pickier I got, the less good I felt.
I decided I needed to be less picky and started by thanking my spouse for taking out the kitchen garbage after dinner. He almost always does, but I APPRECIATE it, so I don’t have to and told him so. The next day, I thanked my choir for focusing so intensely during rehearsal. The next morning, I complimented my neighbor for her gorgeous trees—their colors were wonderful that year. I thanked my grocery checker and told a lady I saw in produce her baby was adorable. All were surprised I “saw” them, and it felt really good.
My chamber choir will give its first concert in two years on Sunday. In almost every rehearsal, I’ve tried to compliment them for something non-musical or told them how happy I am we’re FINALLY able to sing together (with masks, but we’re TOGETHER). This was not so much an experiment but a realization during our lockdown and socially distanced time apart how much I missed them and respect them. We’ve had difficulties during the time we couldn’t be together. One of my singers lost her spouse to an especially awful cancer, another realized she could no longer sing with us due to health and aging issues and another moved away from the area before having the gumption to tell us.
Thanking folks and giving compliments, even for small things, is something I can do to make the world a bit more pleasant. It was never my intention to change the world or anything so drastic, but I can do things to make my tiny corner of creation better. And it’s made a difference in my attitude about a lot of things.
I am not only doing my usual November thanks/compliment strategy this year but am also acknowledging my gratitude (at least to myself) each day for the many good things in my life. I’ve never kept a Gratitude Journal, but I think after this November is over, I’m going to continue with my gratitude list. It’s been wonderful for me psychologically, especially this year.
Until next week, be well and be safe.
I am not able to take my Choral Ethics Blogs to my chamber choir’s Facebook page today. Hope to see you again next week!