Monday Mitzvahs: Compliments are like Thought Umbrellas

Adriana Measures - CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 Fotopedia
Adriana Measures – CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 Fotopedia

Mark Twain once said, “I can live for two months on a good compliment.”   Isn’t that the truth?  Compliments are like thought-umbrellas.  They offer shelter from life’s harsh winds and rain.

These thought-umbrellas are better than chocolate or flowers.  That’s saying a lot because I love chocolate.  But consider this–I can buy my own chocolate or flowers (and I have abundantly), but complimenting oneself is trickier.  We should be kind to ourselves, and try to have positive self-talk, but it’s really not the same as a compliment from someone else, right?

Thought-umbrellas are great to receive and a delight to give away.   That is something I could never say about chocolate.  Once it is in my possession, I want to keep it.  If my kids get too close I pull the chocolate close to my heart and hiss, “my precious”.

Sometimes we imitate Gollum with compliments we should be sharing.  We think, “I should tell her how nice she looks today, but I’m sure she already knows.”  Or “That was a great talk, but other people will tell her.”  And on and on.  We give ourselves all kinds of excuses, but here is something to consider.  Ezra Taft Benson said, “With-holding compliments is a form of pride.”  So be more humble! Open your palm and your heart and share those compliments with the people that deserve them.

There are many ways to share a compliment.  The most common way is in person, verbally, but we don’t need to limit ourselves to that.  You could send an email.  Or you can use social media.

On Facebook, I think clicking “like” is a nice way to give a compliment.  A simple click says, “I like that,” or “Thanks for sharing.”  Facebook Likes always make me smile.

On Twitter, you can “favorite” a tweet or even better…retweet.  Don’t you love it when you get retweeted?  I do!

Blogs:  When you like a blog post, you can compliment the blogger by leaving a comment.  (this is general advice, I’m not fishing for compliments, honest! Sometimes we don’t comment because we don’t know what to say.  I’ve done that.  But really, a quick, “that really made me think,” or “that made me smile” is good.  Bloggers thrive on feedback, we’re not picky.  Another way to compliment a blog is to share it.  If you like it, tell a friend!

You could also go “old-school” with your compliments and write a thank you note, or send a card.

Don’t forget to protect your treasures–the thought-umbrellas that are given to you.  One of the best writing tips I ever read was this: Keep an “emotional band-aids’ file.  Whenever someone compliments your writing, cut and paste it to that file, or jot it down and add it to the file.  And when a rejection notice knocks you down, read that file to keep yourself going.  Writer’s aren’t the only ones that get rejected, though we sure get our fair share.

I have a friend who has a drawer in his home that he keeps positive things that have been said to him.  Once I wrote something about him in my blog (about how he always supported me by simply asking a sincere “how are you?”).  Since he didn’t know about my blog, I printed out the post and gave it to him as a thank you.  He told me months later about his “compliment drawer” and that he put my printed blog post in there.  Apparently, he had needed a lift that day and had come across it again.

So treasure comments in your heart, but you might also want to give them a special landing place on your computer or in a drawer…a resource to draw on when the storms of life beat down on you.

Now go and give someone a compliment today…or give two, after all,  they’re free!


Monday Mitzvahs were inspired by Linda Cohen and her book 1,000 Mitzvahs


  1. And then there is the ultimate complement, Leslie. To actually include the person’s name in the complement!

    This is another important post for every one, not just us on the roller-coaster, Leslie.

  2. I’m not a journal writer, so I keep all the thank you cards and written compliments that people give me in my journal. It’s good to see that you do really have made a difference to someone, even if it hasn’t been recent. An employee at Emily’s school sent me a wonderful letter letting me know he thought I was doing something right at home, and I think I would like to frame that letter! LOL

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