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I have recently realised that I am terrible at taking compliments. I feel like I always need to be modest about whatever I have done; while that is a good thing, too much of something is still bad. I noticed myself trying to come up with ways to say “No I’m not that good” or “No that’s not the case” every time someone so much as compliments my handwriting. It is kind of a double edged sword- while one is wont to crave some recognition and acknowledgement, one cannot elegantly accept it either; not without questioning one’s self esteem levels, at least.

Don’t get me wrong, this by no means indicates that I don’t like giving compliments, no. I love doing that. I like thanking people and complimenting them even for the smallest things, and not because I want them to like me. It just makes me happy seeing others be happy about something that they are or did. And I sincerely believe it to be an excellent tool for lifting someone’s mood. In today’s day and age, a lot of us are ill-prepared to deal with our lives. So why not just say some kind words to even a total stranger, knowing that they now have a small thing to be thankful for that day?

But ironically, while I do like to be complimented (like any other human), the momentary reactions are hardly coherent/controllable. I wondered why this was. Then it struck me that our society rarely participates in complimenting. They’re never fulfilled or happy with anything. Nothing is good enough for a positive remark. Try to make yourself look good, they’ll call you vain. Stop trying, they’ll call you a tramp. Write neatly, and they’ll say that’s why you get good scores. Get good scores, and they’ll ask why you didn’t get more. Get into a good school, and they’ll ask why you didn’t get a scholarship. Every step of the way, every little thing you try to be enthusiastic about, you’re beaten down. More. More. More.

I believe this is a social evil. I believe this is a factor in people being led astray- into corruption, adultery, thievery. And I believe that’s why a lot of us are never happy. Because we are not trained and conditioned to be so. I can count on one hand the number of people who have asked me to be happy the way I am. One hand. And I suspect this is the case with more than most. Let’s be the last ones in this chain. Let’s try to compliment people. When you compliment someone, chances are they do it to someone else. Like how it is when you insult someone. Tell someone they look good. Tell your friends that they have a lot to be proud of. Tell a stranger to have a nice day. Thank someone for opening the door.

Do that, and at the very least, you’ll be able to take a compliment next time.

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