The Power of Praise

Lindsay - Saint Anthony, Idaho
Entered on February 23, 2009
Age Group: 18 - 30
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The Power of Praise

You have gorgeous eyes. She is a writer that we all respect and admire. I was mesmerized by your voice.

Has anyone paid you a compliment that kept you smiling the whole day? Those phrases are just a few of the kudos I’ve received — and I still remember them.

I believe in the power of words, and I believe especially in the power of praise. In fact, at one point when I was a bottom-dweller in the pity pit of life, I made what I like to call my “happy thoughts” journal. It’s a boring composition book with lined, college-ruled paper, nothing fancy. But it’s become one of my favorite books to read.

Each time someone pays me a compliment or something wonderful happens in my life, I write it down, and I write down who said it or when it happened so that I remember it later.

Sometimes it’s something really simple: “Random guy told me I had a ‘pretty sweet’ dress on.”

Sometimes it’s something that seemed really important to me at the time: “First time holding hands — August 6.”

And sometimes it’s even ridiculous: “Your name is really poetic.”

Whatever it is, if it makes me feel happy, it goes into that journal so that I can flip back through it later, especially when I’m charging into the darkness again. I’ve realized how much those happy thoughts mean to me, how much I cling to them when someone else is tearing me down. But they mean the most when I’m tearing myself down.

I’ve tried to sprinkle my “happy thought dust” on other people, too, now that I know how powerful praise can be. I compliment my friend on her new haircut. I tell a guy with cool sneakers that his shoes are “pretty sweet.” I e-mail my aunt, a writer and columnist, to tell her how funny her latest entry was. And I try out all my corny puns and jokes on my coworkers when they seem to be having a rough day.

I’m not a Lucille Ball or a Bob Hope. I can’t make the whole world happy, and sometimes I can’t even make myself happy. But I do know that praise is incredibly powerful — whether you’re receiving it or sharing it with someone else.

So I continue to add to my happy thoughts journal. After all, where else am I going to write down that, “Brittany in my class told me I looked like Audrey Hepburn in Sabrina?”

And it’s always nice to know that “Mike doubly loved my haircut.”