Occasionally, someone will give you a compliment that really makes you feel good and means a lot to you. Years ago, I received such a compliment and I decided to write it down so that I wouldn’t forget it. After writing it down, and reading it again, the good feeling that it mustered up inside of me reminded me of another time I had felt that way. It was from another compliment unrelated to the first that had also brought me joy.
I decided to write that compliment down too.
Soon I was writing down all of the nice things that I could remember people saying about me at any point in my life. Each compliment seemed to bring back another compliment that I had forgotten. I put on paper comments from siblings, parents, extended family, friends, co-workers, classmates, and even strangers.
I wrote about the time my drama teacher told me that I have perfect comedic timing. The time my father said that he thought I could write a book like the one I was reading. And when a friend thanked me for something I had told him years before. I even wrote about the lady that saw me and said–not knowing she was talking to my wife, “How’d you like to come home to that every night?”
Some of the comments made me laugh, others were just very heartfelt and genuine. But each comment reminded of a happy memory and often a cherished relationship with a person or group of people. And as I got into that frame of mind, I could often think of other happy memories and comments that I should write down.
The list became a prized journal. And I would add to it year after year as something struck me.
But there were times that I would forget about the journal and then, in a low moment, pull it out again to remind myself that I am not as terrible as I frequently think that I am.
It is kind of sad how quickly we forget the compliments we receive and go back to thinking of the negative things that we inevitably also hear. I believe that one genuine positive comment can eradicate hundreds of negative comments. Especially, if we choose to let the negative go and focus on the positive. I’ve even gone so far as to write the negative things down to get them out of my head and then burned them as a way to emblematically release them from my thoughts.
And then I would pull out the journal of nice things said about me. And smile as I was surprised by at least a few comments that I had forgotten about.
I recommend that everyone do something similar. I don’t think that I receive that many more compliments than anyone else, but I am pretty certain that if I hadn’t started this list, there would be times that I would believe that there were absolutely no good things about me at all.
The journal exists in spite of my regular grumpiness or depression. It defies the negative truths that I want to pout about.
One of the things that still puts a smile on my face, was after my high school drama group performed a one time rendition of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” for a neighboring elementary school, a few days later, I was at the gym and this little kid ran up to me and said, “You’re the dog!” Yes, I had played the Grinch’s dog, Max. And the fact that that kid recognized me and with so much excitement has delighted me for years.
And only because I took the time to write it down.