I know a way to increase love in your life, in others, and can continue to expand happiness in waves. It’s simple and easy, and yet many of us don’t do it nearly enough. It’s easy as pie, and just as sweet. It exists in the sincerely given compliment, recognition of a job well done, and in appreciation of a kindness given.
It seems like it would be easy to give a compliment. To tell a friend, “You look beautiful today” or to say to a classmate or colleague, “That was a fantastic presentation”. Somehow, though we may think these things, we don’t often give voice to our feelings. I recognized this in myself. And I knew it was due to a bit of envy, and something else…
The more I sat with those feelings to understand what was happening; I realized I was doing the one up/one down game with myself again (and it was with myself, when I don’t give voice to what’s happening in my head, no one else is playing along). I was seeing myself as somehow superior or somehow lesser than the people in my life. Very rarely could I see myself as on the same ‘level,’ as it were. You were either better than me, so I should try to be like you, or you were worse off, in which case I should avoid you or pity you with my friendship. And, therefore, by giving a compliment or an acknowledgement, I was either placing you even higher than you were, or I was putting you at my level (and I couldn’t do that!!). This came to me as a revelation.
As I came to understand what I was doing, I watched myself more. I tried to feel my feelings deeply, to really sit with them and see what was happening. Often, when I was around those who I considered superior, I felt a little tenseness in my gut, like an upset stomach. I felt on edge, a little overly aware of my actions and a little overly conscious. When I was with someone I considered below me, I felt smug, like I was smarter and knew better. I felt myself standing taller and looking down my nose a bit. I can tell you now I don’t like either of those places.
I want to make it clear, it took several weeks of being exquisitely present, of really practicing mindfulness for me to understand what I was doing. I thought I was making choices. Turns out I was following a script I have probably followed for years upon years.
When I became more aware of what I was doing, and realized that I didn’t want to be that way, I made an attempt to tell people what I was thinking. If a compliment came to mind, I found that source of love inside and gave that compliment with as much sincerity as I could muster. If someone gave me good service at a grocery store, I told him or her. I tried not to let any good deed or kindness go unnoticed.
Here’s the really awesome thing that. When I gave love and kindness out, it DID NOT diminish. In fact, every time I was able to compliment someone, or recognize a kindness, I felt lighter, happier, more here. And those people, too. They often went about their days feeling happier. Because who doesn’t like to be noticed or appreciated? And those people were probably nicer to the people they met along their day, and to their families. Can you see how this works? You do something that takes nothing away from you, but rather, fills you up, and you increase happiness in the world. You cultivate JOY.
are some tips on learning to express appreciation:
1. When you think something about someone but find that you don’t give voice to it, examine why. There might something going on with you that you need to work on.
2. Understand your intentions. When your intentions are love and joy, you will get that in return, but when your intentions are not so pure (i.e. only wanting to kiss up or something along those lines), you’ll notice the love and joy don’t flow quite so freely. What I’m saying is, really mean it.
3. Give yourself a goal. Try to give compliments or express appreciation five times a day. This exercise also forces you to be present because you have to be looking for opportunities. You learn to be grateful for the goodness in the world, and you learn a little about being here now.
the way, have I told you I appreciate you? Your interest in my writing
with joy and I can’t express in words how much happiness this exercise
bringing me. Thank you.