Dear Annie: I’m an older gent who has been doing weight training for years.
I was walking down the beach one day, wearing my swimsuit, and a young lady approached on a bicycle from the opposite direction. She pointed toward me, and I turned to look at the water thinking the dolphins that had been swimming close to shore were back. She said, “No, you!”
Wow. I was blown away. That unsolicited compliment made me feel great the entire day. But it also rang a bell.
Since then, I’ve started the practice of making appreciative comments, even to strangers, when they’re deserved.
“That’s a really good color for you,” or “Good form on that bicep curl” — that sort of thing.
The key is that the comment has to be legit. People know when they’re being patronized.
And guess what. It doesn’t cost a dime and makes both parties feel better.
— Doesn’t Cost a Dime
Dear Doesn’t Cost a Dime: It is interesting that right before you had this beautiful realization of kindness, you saw dolphins. Dolphins structure their lives around a social group, called a “pod.” They are said to communicate with the others in their pod by making sounds such as clicks and squeaks.
You took this wave of kindness to heart and applied it to your life. It just goes to show that when we lead with kindness and see the good in others, others see the good in themselves and want to share it, and so on and so on. What a beautiful realization and ripple effect. And, yes, the comments have to be genuine.
One of my favorite expressions is “One smile will get you two.” I hope your letter encourages people to be kinder to one another, themselves and the animals that inhabit this beautiful Earth.
Dear Annie: As the mother of three sons, I taught them the thing that separates men from animals is the ability to write thank-you cards. I now have two grandchildren, and when they can write, I will expect to receive thank-you cards from them. If not, then the phone call I will make will be to my sons to remind them of what they were taught.
Writing in appreciation for what has been done for you is an additional gift to you, not the giver. Children are then taught to be thankful and not feel entitled.
Grandparents should recognize that we are doing our grandchildren a favor when we support them in doing what is right just because it is right.
— Indiana Mom and Grandmother
Dear Indiana Mom and Grandmother: Congratulations on giving your sons, and now your grandchildren, the gift of gratitude. Showing appreciation does make both parties feel good. They can’t help but feel more joy. As author and philanthropist Lynne Twist shared with Oprah Winfrey, “What you appreciate appreciates” — one of my favorite quotes.
Annie Lane, a graduate of New York Law School and New York University, writes this column for Creators Syndicate. Email questions to email@example.com.