I received an email in my inbox the other day from Reid Tracy, the CEO of Hay House. No, it wasn’t to me personally 🙂 …it’s just part of a e-newsletter I get. The content struck a chord with me that I wanted to share with you.
Fergus is Reid’s dog. On a recent road trip they took, Fergus was getting all kinds of positive attention, as fluffy and adorable dogs typically do. For Reid, this was a lightbulb moment. He writes, “How great our lives would be if everywhere we went people told us how wonderful we are.”
A simple compliment can have a large impact. It’s like a spotlight shining on us for just a minute, calling attention to something wonderful about us that sparked with someone else. When we’re babies and young children, this spotlight is usually huge. Everyone we encounter tells us how amazing we are, how incredible it is that we learned the ABCs, or how fabulous it is that we learned to do a cartwheel, or how we truly mastered finger-painting.
This spotlight dims as we get older. The messages we receive become more about how much we don’t know rather than how awesome we are for knowing elementary things. We become more self-aware, we start comparing our lives to others, and somewhere along the way, we become our own meanest critic. Negative thoughts don’t have to be perpetuated from outside sources because our inner voice has taken the helm at putting us down.
I received two compliments recently that I’ve been playing over in my mind. One came from my sister. When she was visiting my home, she randomly came up in the middle of a nothing moment and said something like, “I just love the way you decorate your home.” Creating a comfortable home is one of my passions, so for her to notice and receive that enjoyment too, made me feel surprised and pleased. That little inner light turned on inside me and I was lit up by the compliment.
The second one came from a stranger. My husband and I went out to a local restaurant for an early dinner and sat at a table near the front door. As we perused the menu, a group of people walked past us to leave, when one of the women stopped and touched my arm. “You have a beautiful smile,” she said. Whoa! That was amazing. My husband leaned in and said, “See? I always tell you that!” It’s true, he does. It’s one of the reasons I adore him, for all of the generous compliments he gives me.
However, when a compliment comes from a complete stranger, it feels different. Just think, that person had to notice you, and see something about you that speaks to them, and then they had to work up the courage to actually approach you to say something KIND. That’s actually a lot of effort, right? That woman didn’t have to take time to say anything to me. She doesn’t “get anything” out of paying me – a total stranger – a compliment. She could have very well left and said nothing, and I would never have known the difference.
I’m pretty sure I’ve written about a similar topic before, but it’s a theme I’m willing to reiterate a thousand times over – words hold within them incredible power. We have the ultimate responsibility to choose how to use them. Will we use them to build each other up, or, tear each other down? To build ourselves up, or tear our own souls apart? You have the power to decide. You have the power. The words you use are powerful. Reid writes below, “What you put out in the universe, you get back.” Choose wisely.
Be generous with kind words towards others. Notice something great about a stranger and then have the guts to walk up to them and declare it to them. Bolster your friends and family members with positive words of encouragement. Decide today to stop repeating negative stories to each other, and instead relive the positive ones together.
Here is the story of Fergus (edited for length):
“I just went on an over-2,000-mile road trip to McCall, Idaho and then back to San Diego. I took this trip with just our family’s two dogs, Olive, a 6-year-old West Highland White Terrier, and Fergus, a 1-1/2-year-old Wheaton Terrier.
We successfully made it to Boise and I can honestly say I learned a lot journeying with my two dogs.
The insightful part of this journey was seeing everyone’s reaction to Fergus at each of my stops. When I pulled up to a Starbucks drive-through window, the person helping me raved about how cute Fergus was. As I went to a drive-through for food, the person raved about Fergus as he sat in the front seat next to me. When we stopped for the night, the people at the hotel would all come over to pet Fergus and tell me how wonderful he was.
All this attention for Fergus had me thinking about how great our lives would be if everywhere we went people told us how wonderful we are. Think about how our self-esteem would expand. Now, this sometimes happens to young kids and babies, but it rarely, if ever, happens from adult to adult.
My advice for us all in the coming weeks is to find things to compliment others about as we go through our day. Not just the cute dogs and the kids or babies, but everyday people. Think how good you feel when someone says something nice to you. As many of our Hay House authors address: what you put out in the universe, you get back. I bet you are going to see some wonderful things happen in your own life as you make other people’s lives better through something as simple as saying a kind word or two.”
(I tried to find a link to this text online, without luck. If Hay House has a searchable online archive of their newsletters, it was sent in an e-newsletter on July 17, 2016, titled “Present Moments,” with the subject line, “If We Could All Be Fergus.”)