Spreading Love with Your Words
Photo Credit: Gustavo Fring/Pexels
I don’t know about you, but I’ve never felt more separated from people in my entire life than I do right now. In this era of social distancing and divisive beliefs, it feels harder than ever to create an authentic connection. The rule book has been thrown out, and this new way of living has knocked me off balance. Do I hug my friends? Do I acknowledge the fellow hiker on the trail with me, or do we avert our gaze and walk along? Do I venture to shake the hand of a new business acquaintance?
As someone who not only needs but craves depth and connection with people, I’ve started to dabble in random acts of kindness as a way to connect in these uncertain times. One of my favorite ways to do this is to give a genuine compliment to a stranger. Easy enough, right? It takes two minutes and, if done right, can brighten someone’s day, and perhaps ripple out in ways unknown to you. There’s a reason why one of the five love languages is “words of affirmation.”
Here’s how I do it: Sometimes when I’m shopping at the grocery store or walking through the parking lot, I take a moment to jump out of the running monologue in my head to notice the people around me. I look at the way they are moving, the story that’s being told through their body language and demeanor. At first glance, I might notice their hurried pace, the tight, furrowed brows, the way their heavy shoulders curl into a tight hunch. After that initial glance, I then look again to see beyond the tension, and instead, I take a moment to notice something unique about them. I slow down my hyperactive mind and take a full-bodied moment to breathe in the other person and truly see them.
It Feels Really Good to Be Seen
It could be the way the blue of their shirt brings out their eyes or maybe it’s how their eyelashes curl high and deep. A compliment doesn’t have to be solely physical, either. It can be as simple as noticing and reflecting back to someone an act they did that was beautiful. Perhaps the grocery clerk is patient and gentle with an older person who needs more time or you have a friend who is consistently generous with helping others. After I’ve taken the time to notice something beautiful, I look them in the eyes (that part is essential!), and I shine some love on them with a genuine compliment.
Today, as you move through your day, I encourage you to give a compliment to someone who you think might need to feel appreciated or seen. I dare you to even try it with someone who might rub you the wrong way. Watch what happens after you do it. I’ve found that most people soften in their bodies and, for one sweet moment, create a genuine connection.
I encourage you to give a compliment to someone who you think might need to feel appreciated or seen. I dare you to even try it with someone who might rub you the wrong way.
Notice how you feel, as well. Does it add an extra pep in your step? Or does it feel awkward and vulnerable? Don’t judge yourself if you do. I’m an introvert by nature and it took me a moment to get used to it, too.
Is this going to solve the problems of the world? Bridge the seismic divide between people these days? Probably not. I’m not a Pollyanna kind of gal, but what it does is provide a pop of light and the potential for connection — even if it’s just for a fleeting moment.
In these trying and unstable times, we could all use an extra dose of love and kindness.