Giving the Precious Gift of Kind Words

My friend Melissa is one of the most generous people I know. She blesses the lives of many in a very special way. When the moment presents itself, Melissa never misses an opportunity to lavish sincere praise.

Not only does she express her kindness to others by issuing compliments, Melissa does so in a significant way.

The other day I was the recipient of one of Melissa’s bighearted gifts. She attended a presentation I gave at a business meeting. Not only did she absorb and remember the message I delivered, the next morning when I visited my Facebook page Melissa tagged me in a post.

Other friends might have sent me a quick private message telling me they enjoyed my presentation. Not Melissa. She wrote a lengthy paragraph of “shout out” praise to be viewed on social media. Her act of kindness was extremely generous and an example of how Melissa goes out of her way to lift up people making them feel special.

Generosity is the virtue of giving freely and abundantly. Sometimes we give time, in other instances money or material goods. People like Melissa find innovative ways to make the world a brighter place with carefully chosen words.

Khalil Gibran is quoted as saying, “Generosity is giving more than you can and taking less than your need.”

Wise words to live by and yet, conversely, we can all identify acquaintances, perhaps even family members, who either refrain, or rarely think to offer up an “atta girl” or extend encouragement. Often in my coaching practice I encounter individuals who talk about never receiving a compliment from a parent, sibling or their boss.

Denying a deserving person a word of praise is the opposite of being generous. In fact, withholding admiration on a consistent basis can even be a form of emotional punishment.

Not everyone is as highly skilled as Melissa in the art of a compliment. If you are holding back praising others because it feels awkward, or you fear doing it wrong, just practice. Start small.

Try telling your boss you like her dress (if you do). Next try focusing on characteristics and skills. Perhaps your coworker wrote a procedure streamlining a task and making your work-life easier. Applaud that action, verbally, in writing or at a staff meeting in front of the boss.

There is only one rule when passing out compliments. Be sincere. Coupling sincerity with generosity makes your compliment memorable.

Make a point of issuing gracious compliments this week. Gift others with words of praise. Remember it costs you nothing to be kind, but may mean everything to someone else.

How to Get Over a Major Hurt

Thorny experiences are challenging. Bruised memories of a taxing ordeal linger on like a bad dream even after grinding through the pain and discomfort.

This baggage not only casts a negative shadow, it takes up space.  Living with a past hurt is like having a dreary dungeon-like room in your home so crammed full of unsightly objects you cannot get in to open a window and let the sun shine in.

Ridding yourself of the urge to ruminate over painful experiences takes some extra effort. Think pageantry or radical action. Recently I read about a practice called a sorrow bonfire.  I never was much of a Campfire Girl but the idea appeals to me.There is power in fire. Take your painful experience and commit it to paper. Trek out to the beach or a campsite and create a bonfire.

Bring some friends along to witness the event. With sincere reflection toss your missive into the fire.  As you watch the document go up in flames, reflect on the fact it’s been reduced to ash. It can no longer throw a dark pallor over your life.

Sometimes you just need to beat the crap out of a huge hurt.

Years ago, when I felt my stress and frustration level mounting, I’d head out to a local game room. Upon entering I’d make a beeline for a game involving a soft mallet used to beat down pop-up gophers. Smacking those little guys back in their hole was not only a fun stress reliever; I also racked up multiple valuable redeemable points. My next move was to gift some little person with tickets that could be converted into cute stuffed animals.

The smiles I received in return were worth the all the money I poured into the gopher machine. I left feeling joyful on the drive home.

In her book, “Happiness as a Second Language,” author Valerie Alexander offers up another interesting action to rid yourself of a painful experience. Fill a piñata with fun little treats.

Next hang it up and hammer your paper-mache image with all your might as you commit to letting go of the bad memory forever. Then scoop up the delights and share them with others.

Ready to leave your pain behind and move on? Try the bonfire or piñata or any other method that ends in joy. Let go of the hurt. It’s time, right?

50 Shades Darker, 10 Things to Keep in Mind for Valentine’s Day

I am honored to publish a guest post written by Karen Amster-Young, co-author of  The 52 Weeks: Two Women and Their Quest to Get Unstuck, with Stories and Ideas to Jumpstart Your Year of Discovery  (Skyhorse Publishing). The book is available at amazon.com and in stores everywhere.

Karen Amster-Young

I love this book and have mentioned it in past blogs!

I know you will enjoy Karen’s take on activities for celebrating this day set aside for fun and romance. (As for me, I’m going with When Harry Met Sally!)

50 Shades Darker, 10 Things to Keep in Mind for Valentine’s Day

By Karen Amster-Young

I didn’t run to see Fifty Shades Darker, the 2nd movie made from the best-selling 50 Shades trilogy by E.L. James. It wasn’t because the early reviews weren’t great; it was more about lack of time and making choices and, let’s face it, there are better date night options if you are looking to strengthen your relationship with a significant other. Besides, the books are better. For 50 Shades of Grey, I actually went with a group of girlfriends. We laughed out loud together at the dialogue and cheesy sex scenes like a group of teenagers.

Which reinforces the point of this Valentine’s post: there are many relationships in our lives – from siblings to friends to our kids. When we’re young, we may spend time giving out love notes or something to our classmates and crushes. Now we have many relationships and they are often in need of a shot of attention. Unfortunately we don’t spend enough time on making them stronger – maybe we just never think we have enough time or, more complicated reasons leave us overthinking the matters of the heart.

When you get right down to it, relationships are everything. They fuel all aspects of our life — and without that fuel, the days can feel pretty empty. But no need to go there. Here are 10 low-impact ways you can build bonds and re-think Valentine’s Day. And, let’s face it: with the constant stream of non-stop daily news, we can all use a few days thinking about something else. In fact, on second thought, maybe going to an entertaining, trashy movie with someone isn’t such a bad idea after all!

  1. Plan a group date. More people around takes the focus away from you and your relationship, which can be a good thing sometimes.
  2. Stay in bed and finally treat yourself to a day of doing nothing. Love this quote: “You call it being alone. I call it enjoying my own company!”
  3. Make annoying heart cookies with your kids for their classmates. It’s really about the time together. Remember, they grow up and one day you will miss it!
  4. Smile more often. It actually tricks the brain. It is impossible to feel stressed if you smile.
  5. Married for 100 years? Recreate your first date with your spouse.
  6. Clean house: toxic relationships are not relationships.
  7. Write a real letter to your favorite aunt (or uncle, or cousin or whoever you have been, let’s face it, neglecting).
  8. Plan a girl’s weekend.
  9. Give love to a stranger: volunteer to keep someone company, read to an elderly person or make a home-cooked meal for someone in need.
  10. Show love to your country in whatever way is right for you.

And of course, there is always 50 Shades Darker playing in the theaters. It’s probably the perfect antidote to CNN.  If you’re worried about your brain cell count, try LA LA Land instead for some romance; better yet watch old movies at home – When Harry Met Sally anyone? The best!