In Praise of Praise

praise-1987229_1920NOTHING feels better than unexpected praise. Absolutely nothing (okay, okay, there’s that but this is not that discussion). Praise makes even the worst day better and a good day can become splendiferous. The world around you brightens as your reality shifts from a regular day into a spectacular here and now where someone appreciates you!

Your shoulders lower and your head rises. A warm flush of embarrassment and pride darkens your cheeks. A smile threatens to break through and you can feel your eyes sparkle. Your chest expands as you breathe in deeply. Yes, THIS. Praise is what we all crave and secretly long for.

To give unexpected, earnest, honest praise is to wield great power.

That sentence is so important, I made it a heading. When you praise someone, you have the power to make their day/week/year/life emotionally better. Something that wonderful and free should be everywhere, springing from every lip or by writing, through every pen. But, when did you last receive unexpected praise? Not deserved appreciation for a job well done, I mean, good for you and all but you did earn it. No, I’m asking how far back in your memory do you have to go to find startling praise, perhaps from a stranger, about who you are, an action you’d just taken, or how you looked?

A few of you will answer that you receive accolades with great regularity, and I offer you my heartiest congratulations. However, far more of you are still searching your memory for a surprising word of praise that came out of nowhere. Some of you won’t find any.

Now, probe your memory for the last time you offered unexpected praise. Again, good for you if you already do it all the time. If you don’t, ask yourself why.

The poet Maya Angelou said people never forget how you make them feel. By offering praise freely, with no cost or payoff for yourself, you’ll make someone feel wonderful. And they’ll always remember the feeling even if they can’t remember who gave them such a gift.

Do it, today. Look for one opportunity to offer honest appreciation. Maybe the check-out clerk has fabulous fingernails or stunning eye shadow. Is that young woman holding the door open for the elderly man? Did the guy down the street shovel the entire block after a snowfall? Has someone inspired you, even by casual comment? Congratulate/thank/compliment them with all the earnest honesty the moment allows.

Don’t draw it out, think of it as hit-and-run appreciating. Make that moment solely about them, not you. Just praise and walk away. You don’t have to turn around to see if they’re smiling, if they aren’t they will be after it sinks in a little. Some people are so unused to approval they don’t recognize it when it’s given and they need to mull it over. Some won’t be able to accept it for what it is but that’s on them, poor souls.

Today, dude, #PraiseItForward

 

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