Today as I walked through the living room, where the children were busy at their school work, The Princess looked up and smiled, "You look pretty, Mama."
I was so surprised, not only because I wasn't feeling pretty, but also because I was wearing an absolutely normal, and quite simple, outfit. I hadn't been trying to look pretty; I was just bustling from one task to the next. "Thank you!" I smiled back.
She popped up and followed me to the kitchen. With a twinkle in her eye, she told me, "Someone once told me: if you think something nice about someone, you should say it," then she gave me a big squeeze.
This made me smile even wider, because that someone was ME!
Years ago, I was sitting in church, and my dear friend Tammy was reading the scripture. I was struck by how pretty she was. She is one of the most humble people I know, and I wondered if anyone ever told her that she is pretty. Suddenly it occurred to me that if I never told her she'd never know that I was thinking it. So after the service I found her. Her reaction was much like mine (surprise!). It clearly touched her. It was the first time this had occurred to me, and I determined to be more intentional in speaking my positive thoughts.
Unfortunately, it is a norm in our culture to give slightly true compliments at expected times... if you dress up, people will say you look nice; if you cook a meal, people will say it is delicious. While I do appreciate these affirmations, I must confess I sometimes wonder how honest they are.
Offering an encouraging observation or an unexpected compliment is kind of like stealth joy spreading. It must be completely honest, one heart to another.
We all need feedback in differing amounts, but there are few humans who don't need any at all. It is easier to give negative feedback than positive! But like any habit, we can cultivate the habit of speaking aloud our positive thoughts about others.
It was fun today to be on the other side of that feedback loop with my daughter. Funny thing is, as much as I loved being told I looked pretty, the best feedback I got was that my girl had been listening and was eager to keep spreading the joy!