Monday, May 23, 2011

A Complement of Compliments

The best compliment ever given to me was from my mom:  "If I'm ever trapped on a deserted island I'd want you with me.  You know how to do everything!"

She didn't say she wanted me there because I was nice or smart or she loved me best.  She wanted me there because I'd be useful.   I could be good to have around in certain situations.  Eureka!  I have a purpose!  Why are we here, what is the meaning of life?  This question has played a pivotal role in countless books, debates, and hours of meditation and speculation.  Philosophers and average schmucks alike ponder the reason for our existence.  Some figure out a good enough reason to keep plugging away at life.  Some turn to religion.  Some go crazy grasping for the meaning of it all.  A few take their own lives when they can't find a satisfying answer.  These people needed my mom.  With one compliment, she justified my existence, gave me purpose on this planet.  The air I've been using up all these years has been put to good use.  I'd make a good islander.  And she might need my help. 

She gave me this compliment is because she loves me.  She also gave me this compliment because she's a complimenting fool.  I think she may have caught on to the compliment karma situation, the ol'  give some to get some rule of the universe.  Good for her.  I hope she breaks the Guinness record for compliments received.  She deserves them.  And that's a compliment.   People need compliments.  I need compliments.  Not because I have a low self esteem.  Not because I need to feel the limelight upon my face.  I need compliments because they make me feel good.  Wanted.  Appreciated.  And proud.  Pride is only a bad thing in the hands of a few.  Compliments motivate me to do more and to be better at what I'm already doing well.  I believe no person could be his/her best self without some form of outside encouragement.  Some form of compliment.  The world needs more people at their best.   

Personally, if I go a long stretch without a compliment, my psyche can be pretty dark.  I turn bitter and resentful.  I get unmotivated, uninterested, unproductive, unfriendly, and uncomplimentary.  Often, I don't even realize what's come over me until I'm given even the tiniest of compliments. Suddenly I feel as if I hit the lotto.  I smile to myself.  I feel purpose.  I've enriched someone, maybe ever so slightly, but enough they were moved to tell me.  I also get the urge to give more of me to get more compliments and give more of me.  No vicious in this cycle. 

I have too many golf clubs and not enough money, so I put a few ads on craigslist last night.  When I checked my email today, I found this note in my inbox: "Your ads are so cute I may just buy the club so I can buy you a glass of wine! You have a killer sense of humor! - Bobby"  Now, I don't know who Bobby is and I don't know how he knows I could use a glass of wine, but I truly loved the compliment.  I needed it.  It felt good.  I smiled because I made someone else smile.  Someone appreciated my humor.  It was my reason for being alive today.  I was useful.  And if someone appreciated my ad writing it's not too far of a stretch that someone might appreciate a blog entry too.  So here I am.  Thanks Bobby, you're a good compliment giver. 

When I started to write this entry, the word compliment didn't look right on the screen: is that right... hmmm... maybe complement, with an e... no, that's a different word altogether, like in math... right... no, maybe, yes, no, I don't know... sheesh.  So I went to my smartest and best spelling friend Google, who always (politely) corrects my errors.  Google came through and gave me some links.  According to Webster, a compliment is “an expression of esteem, respect, affection, or admiration; especially : an admiring remark and a complement is “something that fills up, completes, or makes perfect” or “the quantity, number, or assortment required to make a thing complete”.  I pondered for a moment and concluded the two words are more synonymous than one might suspect. 

Google also gave me this link, to an article about a few students at Washington University who started a Compliment Club.  Nice work, fellas.

As for me, I hope writing this inspires somebody else to give a compliment.  Go-on, now. Give it to someone you love.  Give it to someone you appreciate.  Give it to someone you've never met who wrote a craigslist post that made you smile.  Been nice talking at you, but I gotta run:  my mom says she's "captured by my writing", so I think I ought to drive over and untie her.  Or at least tell her what a great motivator she is- compliments of her children.

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