Lately, I have actually been dropping some of my mean behaviors. Not that I am totally nice now anyway but I have been making conscious effort to be nice to people; not just my friends but total strangers. Months back, I don’t think I actually gave a fuck about people’s feelings. You tell me how bad my words or actions made you feel and I’d simply roll my eye and kiss my teeth. Like, do I look like I care? Yeah, I think it was one of my major flaws.
I actually have no idea what pushed me to start working on myself; maybe maturity. I realized that just like everyone else, I love to be complimented, so why don’t I give out same compliments to people around me?
You know, sometimes, we underestimate the power of a compliment or a kind word. But truth is, sometimes a kind word is all it can take to save a life. “You are beautiful”, “I love your smile”, “You look good”, “The world is lucky to have you”, when you say some of these words to someone, you might find them simple and ordinary but you have no idea how those so-called simple words can brighten someone’s day.
No matter how much we try to downplay it, the truth is that, we all love to be complimented. We love to hear people say nice things about us. All of us are hungry for compliments. That’s why when someone says something nice about us on social media; we are quick to repost them. It’s your birthday and a friend makes a cool post about you, you smile, screenshoot the post and upload on your status. We love these things.
Think about the last time someone actually said something nice to you, out of the blue. Pause, close your eyes and try to remember that moment. It could be anyone. A friend, a colleague or it could be a perfect stranger. How did you feel? Can you recall how you felt? Wasn’t it a beautiful feeling knowing that you were seen; you were heard, recognized and acknowledged? Like someone was actually paying attention to you?
So, my question is, why don’t we do more of this? Why don’t we try and reciprocate that gesture to someone else? Well, the truth is that we are all caught up in the rush-rush of our lives. We are all moving at such a fast pace, focusing on what we want, need and desire that we fail to truly recognize and appreciate the humanity around us.
But when we take time to acknowledge people around us, it makes them happy and their happiness, in turn, can fill us with happiness too. What goes around, comes around remember?
Like, imagine offering words of kindness or you actually complimented someone unprompted. Watching their face lit up; watching their lips part into a thin smile, are you not happy that at least you made someone smile?
We don’t know what people go through in their daily lives and please, don’t say that it’s none of your business. Learn to appreciate people. You love someone’s dress? Tell them. Your employee did a great job? Let them know how good their job was. You think someone is beautiful, tell them! Pay attention to people around you. That’s one thing I actually learnt at Del York (One of the most expensive film schools in Nigeria. It’s an equivalent of New York Film School). During my stay there, there was a day, the CEO called all the students for a brief meeting. During the meeting, he said something that struck me, “Don’t be too carried away living your life. Sometimes, take out time to pay attention to people around you”. He went ahead and called some students and asked them to tell everyone how they managed to come to Del York; the challenges they faced.
Sitting down and listening to some stories actually brought tears to my eyes. In fact, one lady actually narrated how financially handicapped her family was and in a bid to help her family, she decided to come to Lagos. During that period, her father labeled her a prostitute; said all sort of things about her; how she can’t amount to anything in this life. This lady narrated this story with tears rolling down her cheeks. But these are people I see everyday all smiles. This goes a long way to prove that “Just because someone is always smiling doesn’t mean they are happy”. Some people are good at hiding their tears from the crowd by smiling.
Let us not forget how our words can be powerful vehicles for positive change. It can save a life. Don’t get so caught up in your world that you forget those around you. We are all guilty of this to some degree and that’s why I am giving you this challenge.
Make it a point each day to give out one unsolicited compliment to anyone; it could be a friend, a colleague at work or a stranger. Then maybe next week, you increase it to two compliments. The week after that, three. Before you know it, saying kind words to people will become your second nature. That way, you are fully present with the people around you. I don’t know about you but anytime I make someone smile, I feel really good. And most times, it is all you need to keep going.