Why Bother to Give and Receive Compliments?

Why Bother to Give and Receive Compliments?

When was the last time you received a compliment? How did that make you feel? Incidentally, when was the last time you gave a compliment and how did it feel to bestow it? Interestingly enough, it is believed that giving and receiving a compliment produces the same results in both people, making them equally, a little happier. 

Notice

The other day, I met a friend for lunch. Because of an employee shortage, there are fewer and fewer restaurants to choose from in our little town. But, we were lucky enough to find one that we both liked and that was also open for business. As our hostess seated us on the deck that overlooked a beautiful bay of blue water, I noticed we were not the only ones who’d decided to go out to lunch that day. The place was packed.

I wasn’t bothered by the amount of time it took for us to be served. The food was delicious, the atmosphere was casual and my friend and I had a pleasant visit. At the end of the meal, when the waitress brought us our check, I looked at her and said, “You know, you are a very good waitress.”  Her face broke into a smile. 

“It is my first day,” she said.

“Well, you are doing a great job.” 

“Thank you.” 

Our casual exchange of words took less than sixty seconds, but it gave us both a big return. I felt happy that I could reinforce the good effort put forth by a new waitress and the waitress appeared to feel valued by my words.  

Compliments are a gift. They are a buoy to anyone’s heart. They are free and powerful too.  Spoken regularly, they become easier to speak. We only have to look around a little bit to notice who is around and could benefit from a kind word. 

Another thing about compliments, they beget praiseworthy actions. When someone pays attention to something I am wearing and makes a comment such as, “I really like those colors on you,” you can bet I will wear that outfit again. Not that I am fishing for another compliment, but I want to wear whatever makes me look good. 

I am not a pretender, so when I give a compliment, it is genuine. Whether I am noticing the beautiful earrings a friend is wearing or the welcoming smile of the clerk sitting at the front desk of the health club, a few words that acknowledge something praiseworthy about them inevitably gets a positive response. 

So why bother to give or receive a compliment? Paying tribute to someone or accepting someone else’s gift of genuine appreciation will only make happier individuals if even for a moment. 

Why Bother to Nurture the Ties That Bind?

Why Bother to Nurture the Tie That Binds?

Mom always told me that if I could not get along with my siblings, I’d have an especially hard time getting along with anybody else. Whenever I complained to her about one of my brothers or sisters, she told me, “Learning to get along with people starts at home.” For a long time, though, I doubted her words. Surely, there were nicer and more normal people out in the world than my siblings. But the older I got, the more her words rang true. 

More Than Just Tolerating

Growing up, I mostly learned to stay out of the way in order to survive life at home with three brothers and three sisters. Arguments between sisters were to be avoided as were the wrestling matches between my brothers. When I evaded any shameful scoldings from either Mom or Dad by simply obeying them, my siblings accused me of being the adopted one. Compliance was not an ordinary character trait among the rest of them. 

Eventually though, we all grew up and went our separate ways. Some went far away to pursue college, careers and start their own families, while others stayed in closer proximity to one another. 

Then, two years ago, when the world shut themselves away, one of my sisters hatched a plan; The Macek Maverick Calls. Her idea was to have a weekly family conference phone call that would last one hour. Each sibling would take a turn emailing everyone a question a few days ahead of  the phone call.  That question would become the topic of discussion during our conference call. Of course the questions varied depending on who was orchestrating the call. 

(Diane) What was your favorite book as a kid (anytime during childhood)? 

(Bruce) What is your favorite Grandma Weber & Grandpa Weber memory/story?

(Beth) What was your first injury? Do you remember the details? 

(Cyn) Who is/was most instrumental in determining your work ethic? 

(Paul) Have you ever participated in a protest march? If so, what was it? 

(Mark) How best do you learn? 

(Terese) What determines how you made your decisions?

These calls still take place, though now just twice a month. What happened as a result of our conversations is that I now get along better with all my siblings. Though Mom never told me how long it would take before I actually appreciated, valued and treasured my brothers and sisters, she was right. I’ve truly learned how to get along with them.  

Why bother to nurture the tie that binds? You just never know when you might need to hear a familiar voice from the past, be told a story that makes you laugh or gain insight into an old memory. The ones who shared your life from the beginning are the ones who can do that for you, if you nurture the ties that connect you.

Why Bother To Stop Trusting?

Why Bother To Stop Trusting?

To trust means to put our confidence in someone or something because we believe that who or what we’ve trusted has somehow proven to be reliable. We might place our trust in a philosophy we’ve spent time studying, or an idea for living that we think works well, or in a person we think is for us and not against us. But what if our philosophy, ideal way of living or the person we thought was on our side, all proved to be wrong? What if the system, formula, or individual wreaked havoc on our lives instead of benefiting our lives? Would we be willing to stop trusting in what’s no longer working?

        Worry 

Worry used to be a very motivating factor in my life. If I was not worrying, I worried that I should be. Worry, it seemed, prepared me to think ahead about all of the “what ifs,” and then curtail those “what ifs” from hatching into reality. 

I vividly remember the first time that I thought worry had magical powers behind it. I was traveling with my dad from Durango, Colorado to Denver. I remember he was going to Denver to attend some kind of meeting, but why I got to go along, I don’t recall.

The winter roads were wet and snow was piled high on either side of the roadway. It was late in the evening and dark. For some reason, I was afraid that my dad might fall asleep while driving and we’d end up in an accident. In my mind I conjured up a formula that would prevent such a thing from happening. If I were to stay awake, the simple act of being vigilant would keep the accident from happening. 

Hours later, when we arrived in Denver, I was exhausted, but elated. We were alive, all because I’d worried enough to keep us safe, or so I thought. But from then on, I became a true follower of worry. I believed in its power. Strange but true. 

But the older I got, the more worry showed its true colors. It proved to be an awful taskmaster. I could never do enough to silence its voice. Feeling satisfaction about anything was never an option. Worry demanded that I keep my ducks in a row at all times. There were no vacations, no moments of rest, no relaxing allowed. 

In addition to working overtime during the day, I also had to make room for worry in my bed at night. I’d often jolt awake, feeling like I couldn’t be caught sleeping too soundly just in case I missed thinking ahead about something. 

After believing in worry for nearly a quarter of a century, I concluded it no longer held the magical power I thought it once held. It was only a fictitious tale. No one can  predict or prevent the future, not even all the worry in the world.  

Why bother to stop trusting? It is better to stop believing in something that is not working than to keep on trusting in something that was never meant to be relied on in the first place.

Why Bother With New Friends?

Why Bother With New Friendships? 

I wasn’t necessarily looking for a friend when a very pretty and pregnant young woman introduced herself to me the first time I visited the same church she attended. But the minute she shook my hand with a friendly welcoming greeting, her smile told me that we’d somehow become close sidekicks. And we did. That baby she was carrying, he’s now forty-years-old and his mom and I are the best of friends. 

Another friendship began when I answered a knock at my front door. This woman wondered if I happened to homeschool my kids. She lived just around the corner and schooled her three young kids from home as well. From then on, we joined forces. We bounced our educational dilemmas off of each while taking early morning jogs and shared our talents with one another’s kids. She introduced my sons to the joy of skiing while I showed her daughter how to bake the perfect chocolate chip cookie. Though our kids are now adults and my friend no longer lives in the neighborhood, our friendship remains. When we get together, we pick up where we last left off, as though no time has elapsed between our past and present visit. 

What More Do I Need?

Although I was not looking for a new friend, I’ve gained one. Unlike the other two, this friendship took shape via a virtual interview. We needed to replace a teacher at our school who had relocated to another state and I was on the hiring committee. We’d already interviewed two candidates in person, but a third interviewee opted for a virtual conference because of travel complications. 

I was surprised. The connection I made with this woman, although not in person, was personable. I sensed in her the same genuineness that I admired in my other two close friends. I told myself that if this woman were hired as a new teacher at our school, she and I would become good friends. And we have. 

She moved into a home just a few blocks from me and we began carpooling to work. As with any new friendship, our conversations started out on the surface but they didn’t stay there for very long. Our level of communication has deepened and now as with my other two friends, there is mutual understanding, admiration, and respect.

Why bother with new friendships? I can never predict when a connection with someone will click into place and we will become close confidants. But when it happens, I somehow know the connection is worth keeping. 

                     

Why Bother To Notice When We Are Wrong?

Why Bother To Notice When We Are Wrong?

What would you do if you thought you were doing the right thing only to find out you were wrong? What would you do if you were so convinced you were right that you ignored the obvious? What if your actions proved to be dead wrong? 

A Lesson Worth Remembering

Picture a nursing home in the early 1970s. Imagine a sixteen-year-old girl with a shaky self-esteem. That girl was me and I was a newly hired nurse’s aide in a nursing home. Though I’d been employed before; cleaning houses and babysitting, this was my first “real” job. I wore a uniform,  a name tag, had a regular schedule and what felt like a hefty paycheck.  

Nurse Nancy was my boss. She was cheerful, young and confident, someone I respected, looked up to and aimed to please. She could charm the crankiest resident into breaking into a smile, or convince the most resistive patient to cooperate. 

My training with Nancy went smoothly until one day when she was called away and I was left alone.

“I’ll be back as soon as I can. Patsy is next. She is usually cheerful and I’m sure you’ll do fine in getting her up and dressed for dinner,” Nancy assured me as she hurried down the hall.

I opened Pansy’s door and greeted her with my most confident and cheerful voice. While opening the curtains to let in the afternoon sun, I continued to chatter away just like Nancy would do.  Looking at Patsy in her bed I noticed my actions had not caused her to stir. 

But, I was not discouraged. Sometimes some people could be very stubborn. I kept up my  one-sided conversation with Patsy as I rolled her wheelchair into place, close to the bed and locked the wheels. From her closet I chose a brightly colored robe, and found her slippers. Setting these things close by, I surveyed Patsy. She was still and quiet. I stalled a little longer by opening the drawer of her bedside table setting out her hair brush, eyeglasses and false teeth. I was ready, but Patsy remained quiet.

I told myself that I had a job to do and Nancy was depending on me to do it. I took a deep breath to calm my anxious heart and uncovered Patsy. With gentleness, I swung her legs over the side of the bed. Placing my arms under her armpits, I lifted her to a standing position. She was not a light woman. Pivoting her body around, I sat her into her wheelchair. 

I gave up talking to her. It was fruitless. I reasoned that she must not like me and would never acknowledge my presence. Yet, I would not let this keep me from doing what I knew I needed to do. I put her robe on her, albeit backwards, brushed her hair and put her glasses on her face. I did not bother with her teeth. I could come back for those later, once she woke up and found herself sitting in the dining room.  

Letting out the breath I’d been holding, I opened her door and wheeled her out into the hallway. Seeing Nancy coming toward me, I envisioned how proud she would be of me. I’d done my job, just like she’d trained me to do. But I was wrong. Nancy took one look at Patsy and lifted her wrist to take a pulse. 

“She’s dead,” Nancy quietly said.

I was shocked, embarrassed and humiliated. How could I have missed the obvious? I followed Nancy back into Patsy’s room and helped her put her back into her bed.

“I don’t know how you managed to get her up,” Nancy said, “but I bet you’ll never make that mistake again.” 

Nancy was right. After that, I never ignored the obvious signs of someone who was no longer alive. 

Why bother to notice when we are wrong? It may be embarrassing to admit our mistakes, but when we do, they can become a lesson to remember.

Why Bother to be Surprised?

Why Bother To Be Surprised?

Lately, I’ve been noticing the unexpected, unplanned and small pleasantries that occur at least once in my life on any given day. These little surprises give my heart a lift. I’m caught off guard and suddenly, I feel glad. Like biting into my favorite chocolate candy, these little unorchestrated surprises give a large dose of momentary pleasure. 

        Good Moments

Someone once wrote, “One of the greatest moments in life is the moment we recognize we have them in the first place.” Great moments are those interludes, interruptions or pauses that take place in an ordinary day. But, they are extraordinary. These junctions between the planned and the unplanned, the expected and the unexpected cause us to pause. We want to savor the second. We want to absorb the minute of goodness that has come our way. Though we have schedules to keep and goals to accomplish, en route of these comes an encounter. Something  that is almost indescribable.  

For instance, this past week I was caught off guard when two different people on two different occasions took the time to remember me. One sent me a text, out of the blue, with a very kind message of appreciation. Another person, an ex-brother-in-law, pulled into my driveway, delivered a bottle of wine and a friendly greeting. Both of these incidents were something out of the ordinary in the midst of an ordinary day. 

A friend of mine, who studies dreams, told me that the more I write my dreams down, the more dreams I will remember. I find the same to be true concerning those moments that I consider to be a gift, a little twinkling of goodness that comes my way. The more I notice them, the more of them I begin to notice.

Seeing wildlife is not extraordinary. It is not uncommon for me to see eagles, ospreys and deer when I go out for a run or a bike ride. But while kayaking two weeks ago I saw a heron take flight. I was close enough to notice something I’d never noticed before. I saw the heron shorten its long neck as it began to fly. Instead of watching the National Geographic channel on television to learn about herons in flight, I got to live a National Geographic moment. A small, yet momentous sight for my eyes. 

Why acknowledge the unexpected as something good? Why be excited or surprised by the unanticipated? Though I don’t get to control these appearances, or preserve them to bring out later, I do get to feel the lift they give my heart in that wink of time.  

Why bother to be surprised? Those little nuggets of goodness are to be enjoyed. Why not notice them for their intention- a simple pleasure.

Why Bother to Notice Ourselves?

Why Bother To Notice Ourselves?

As a yoga teacher, I am always striving toward becoming a better teacher. There are various ways of learning how to improve my skill, but the best way I’ve found to become a better teacher is to attend as many different classes as there are available to me. 

Even in our small town there are a variety of yoga classes and teachers to select from and every instructor and class is distinct. But every teacher teaches one common theme.  No matter the yoga class, no matter the facilitator, there is the constant reminder to pay attention to our own bodies. 

            Our Uniqueness

One of my yoga teachers exclaims before the beginning of each of her classes, “This is a one room schoolhouse.” What she means by this is that each one of us are at a different level in our learning. Her words remind me that in any given yoga practice, there are beginners who do standing, bending and lunging poses alongside those who twist, invert and bind themselves into more advanced poses. “What matters more than whether or not you can stand on your head,” she says, “is that you show up and practice along with everybody else.” 

Not only are there varied levels among yogis, another teacher reminds me that no two yogis have the same physique. “We are all built differently,” she gently points out during the hour-long practice. I glance around the room and notice the long and limbered bodies, and the short and stout. Some of the bodies are in their prime of youth while others are far past prime time. Again, the teacher emphasizes that what matters the most is that we show up and do the asanas in a way that honors our individual and unique bodies. 

Finally, another teacher reminds me that yoga is not a competitive sport. We do not enter into any yoga class with the intent to stand in a one legged balancing pose or to hold a downward dog longer than anyone else. “There are no red, white or blue ribbons given out at the end of my class,” she says. “But, hopefully you all will leave the room feeling a little more alive than when you walked in.”

In the final analysis of things, no matter which yoga class I attend, no matter which teacher leads me through the asanas, every instructor reminds me to be a better teacher when she tells me to pay attention to my own body.  

Why bother to notice ourselves? No two bodies are the same. Noticing the one we get to live in only helps us live in it to the best of our ability.

Why Bother Making Friends With Yourself?

Why Bother Making Friends With Yourself?

Making friends with ourselves is much like making friends with others. Being hospitable with ourselves or others includes speaking kindly, mutual respect and an awareness of needs. We might find that being congenial with ourselves to be more difficult than being affable to others, but it is just as important.

Wherever I Go

Wherever I go, I find myself there. There is no getting away from me. Unlike friends who come and go, we remain in our own company twenty-four hours a day seven days a week.  Are we in good company when we are with ourselves? That all depends. 

First of all, what do I hear myself saying? Is my self-talk critical and condemning? Do I “shame” myself?  If so, would I do the same to a friend? Most likely not. 

Sometimes a friend of mine, who is on the road to recovery from years of depression, will share with me some of the statements she hears herself saying. “You are so dumb.” “You are a fatty.” Thankfully, when she hears these messages, she knows how to combat them. But that has not always been the case. Listening to years of self-condemnation was similar to being committed to a bad relationship. Nothing good ever came out of it. Presently, she is working her way to the freedom that comes when we no longer berate ourselves. Instead of telling herself degrading statements, she is learning to tell herself truthful ones. 

“It is a lot of work to get well, but I am working hard to get there,” is an honest statement that encourages. Friends tell each other the truth, but with kindness. So, why not be truthful and kind to ourselves as well?

Secondly, we can be a good companion to ourselves as we learn how to respect ourselves. Self respect is not any different than respecting others. It just so happens that the person we are respecting is ourselves. Though none of my friends are perfect, I still appreciate them. So goes the same for me. I have my weaknesses, but I also have my strengths. I have a lot of room to grow, but I am always in the process of growing. As we are with others so we can be with ourselves. We can focus on weaknesses, but when we do, we miss out on seeing the beauty in strength. 

Finally, we can be a friend to ourselves as our awareness grows. For instance, the more I know someone, the more I know about them. And the more I know about them, the more I can tell when they are miffed, exasperated, or at the end of their rope. This is helpful knowledge to have in any relationship. 

The other night, while conversing with a friend over the phone, I noticed her subdued tone of voice. She wasn’t her usual jovial self. The next day, I invited her out to lunch. Munching on our salads, I was able to ask her if she was okay. With a heavy sigh she leaned closer to me and I listened while she unloaded some of her sadness. All she needed was someone who cared enough to listen and with that, her load got lighter. 

 It can be easy to see and consider the needs of others. We might even bend over backwards for their welfare. But showing the same concern for ourselves, well, that seems a little selfish. But noticing our own needs and doing something about them is just plain good self care. 

So why bother making friends with yourself? Being a good friend to ourselves makes being a friend to others even better.

Why Bother With an Ounce of Prevention?

Why Bother With an Ounce of Prevention?

It was Benjamin Franklin who penned the proverb, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”  His pithy saying originated after visiting the city of Boston and observing the preparedness they had in place to put out fires.

 In Boston, as opposed to Philadelphia where Franklin resided at the time, the city had a volunteer fire department, an uncommon idea in the 1700s. These volunteer firemen were ready, willing and able to prevent massive mayhem, complete annihilation of property and countless deaths caused by fires in newly established cities. By simply noticing and responding to this out-of-the-ordinary idea, Franklin became known as the Founding Father of firefighting. But not only that, like fire, the concept of organized volunteer fire companies spread to other cities such as Philadelphia. 

        Proactive Prevention

Today, fire departments not only put out fires, but they also educate the populace about reducing the risk of fires. When we purchase smoke alarms and a fire extinguisher for our homes, we are proactively preventing the destruction of our property due to a fire. Other proactive preventive measures include paying attention while cooking, making sure we extinguish those candles used for romantic dinners and keeping a clean fireplace chimney. Attentiveness is like an ounce of prevention, and can be applied to more than just fire prevention. 

For instance, when that monthly bank statement comes in the mail, it signals the need for me to balance my checkbook. In doing so, I get an accurate statement in my checkbook which prevents me from bouncing any checks. Ignoring that monthly bank statement only guarantees future turmoil for the bank account and for me. 

Another example of an ounce of prevention is to regard regular maintenance on my car.  Awareness of the needs of my car ensures that my care will last longer, and a well maintained car prevents accidents. Noticing worn tread on my tires and then replacing those worn out tires enables me to stop safely instead of skidding out of control. Changing the oil on a regularly scheduled time prevents my engine from overheating and wearing down. Caring for a car is costly, but carelessness costs a lot more. 

Finally, proactive prevention also applies to personal relationships. Proactively preventing full blown disconnections with those we love and care about means staying in regular communication with them. When we first notice a glitch in our connection with someone, that is time to attend to the malfunction. Waiting for a full blown disconnect, procrastination or ignoring the obvious only leads to more complexities. 

Benjamin Franklin’s little proverb, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” can be applied to more than just preparation in case of fire. It is sound advice that brings our attention to all areas of life. 

Why bother with an ounce of prevention? Investing in an ounce of prevention thwarts pounds of troubles. 

Why Bother To Do What is Right?

Why Bother To Do What is Right?

Today is the 4th of July, Independence Day. Americans celebrate this day because it marks the approved resolution which declared U.S. independence from Great Britain with a document entitled the Declaration of Independence. This document was drafted and presented by a committee of five men and approved by the Continental Congress in 1776. 

This grand idea of independence from England was based on a republican model. No longer did the men and women of the thirteen colonies want to be ruled under a monarchy, a political system of unrestrained power of a single person such as a king. 

 Maintaining Independence

George Washington, in his first inaugural address said that the propitious smiles of heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which heaven itself hath ordained. 

Though democracy was the foundation for our country’s government, its ideas, standards and beliefs had already been adopted as a way of life for many people. Honesty, integrity, self-discipline, courtesy, courage and patience were some of the character qualities displayed by the men who drafted this revolutionary document. These men understood that liberty and responsible living were inseparable. They understood the rules of order and right and that the continuation of  liberty would be an experiment entrusted into the hands of generations yet to come. The original men who drafted and signed this revolutionary document of freedom may be long gone, but their lives and ideals are still trustworthy examples. 

Because the health of our freedom is reliant on the health of its citizens, decline in moral behaviors inhibit our freedom. Peter Marshall, a Presbyterian preacher who was appointed Chaplain to The Senate in 1947 sums up the idea of maintaining our country’s freedom by living morally. “Freedom is not the right to do as one pleases, but the opportunity to please do what is right.” 

Freedom was a gift granted to all of us, but it is up to all of us to retain this liberty. If our desire is to let freedom continue to ring, how then shall we live? Perhaps we can begin living in a way that does not disregard the eternal rules of order and right and instead begin living lives a little more orderly and right. 

Why bother to do what is right? Doing right gives us the opportunity to prolong the idea living in  liberty.