What Have I Done for Someone Today?
Today, I paid someone a compliment. It might not sound like such a big deal, but for me - it is.
I still remember the first time someone told me I was horrible at taking a compliment. That shocked me. I realized then she was right. I never just said, "thanks." I'd either brush them off or credit something or someone else, etc. This friend and co-worker of mine flat out told me, "Just say, 'Thanks'." I've become better over the years and the other thing I noticed is that I was horrible at giving out compliments too. Sure, many times I might think a certain thought, I just never said them out loud. I guess I assumed others didn't like taking compliments too.
Well, since that time, I've become much more gracious at accepting them, and have tried even harder to notice things about people so that I could be genuine when giving out a compliment. Being aware of other' strengths and complimenting them on it can help us focus on others and see their good qualities too. Besides, you never know when they might need to hear something nice.
Case in point. The Man & I were @ Costco, shopping for a big weekend up at the Ranch. We were grabbing a bite to eat in the food court and there was a mother with a boy (about age 10-12) and he was throwing a high-pitched tantrum right then and there. He looked extremely frustrated and his mother looked even more exhausted. Immediately, I knew he was autistic. Don't ask me how -- I just knew. I said to the man, "That mother has the patience of Job. If it were me, I probably would have snapped." I then noticed others around me looking down their noses at her. They didn't have to say it; I could see from the looks on their faces they were all thinking things like, "That kid is too old to be acting like that!" or "that child needs a good, old-fashioned spanking." It bothered me that they couldn't see past the behavior and notice the mother who needed the extra support and encouragement. As she began to walk towards the exit, they headed in our direction, screaming child dragging behind. I smiled at her and said, "You are doing a great job." She paused and looked at me, and sighed heavily, as if to say, "no, I'm not." So, I added, "Really. You are. You are doing a great job." "Thanks," she replied behind her weak smile. Not only did I say all of this loud enough for her to hear, but loud enough (without being obnoxious) for those around us to hear too. I can't really describe the looks I got from the other food court patrons.
The mother and son left the store, only to come back to the food court a few moments later. Apparently the tantrum was about wanting a hot dog. After retrieving the hot dog, they made their way to the table next to us. I could tell that she was relieved for once not to be judged, and to feel accepted.
I don't know that I would have noticed the woman much or even noticed the son had a disorder had I not already been opened to the idea of looking for ways to be of service to others. I will say that a positive effect of this experiment has been learning not to judge others and to be more open-minded. Mother Theresa said, "If you judge people, you have no time to love them."
Challenge: Big or Small, what have you done for someone today?