In an effort to keep growing and complete a project, I embarked on a ten day journey of “conscious complimenting”. I realized that I tended to avoid people and even more I tended to avoid interaction. I found I was often hiding behind my label of introvert, I justified being aloof and distant. In wanting to work on this area of my life, I chose to embrace ten days of conscious connection. Here is how it went:
Ten Days of Conscious Complimenting
Criteria: must be a stranger, must be genuine.
Goal: to be fully engaged in seeing another person
Day one: I thought about this all day but when I was prepared to compliment someone I felt stifled and I didn’t do it. As the day went on, I missed opportunities. At the end of the day, I was speaking with someone from my class and I complimented her first on her cool yoga bag, and second on her strong and yet respectful feedback that she shared she have the gym. Reflection: this was harder for me than I thought. I felt nervous when I had opportunity to compliment. I felt disappointed in myself that it took such mental effort. Tomorrow is another chance.
Day two: I felt drawn to little people today. Seeming to notice children everywhere. When I was walking into a building a young boy about 3 was tip toeing on a set of stones, balancing. I told him he was doing a great job balancing. He smiled a giant smile at me. Reflection: I felt joy today as I watched young children. They are so free in their expressions, bit yet conditioned. I felt happy telling the little boy he was magnificent.
Day Three: Today I complimented the lady at the coffee shop. She is a person who is always happy and upbeat. I mentioned that to her. Reflection: as I am going through this experiment I find it easy to move thru interactions without true awareness. Instead, it is the nonsense chatter that occurs day-to-day. By being mindful I am more aware of this nonsense and seek to have meaningful interaction and connection.
Day Four: I saw an old colleague at the coffee shop this morning. He introduced me to his daughter who was visiting. I felt like my dialogue with her was present and mindful. Rather than complimenting her, I told her that it was nice to meet her and that I had heard about her. I was genuine and it felt really good. Reflection: I have hidden behind the introvert wall (excuse) and have avoided interactions with others. In doing this I have realized that there is a beautiful reciprocal dance that can take place when one is intentional and mindful.
Day Five: When I was leaving a coffee shop, a lady came in dressed like sunshine. She had one a bright orange top and the most happy, floral shoes ever. I told her that her shoes were amazing. She smiled a huge smile and said a genuine thank you. Reflection: Seeing the woman’s smile and face light up made me feel really happy inside. I felt good about the spontaneous, unthought compliment that I gave.
Day Six: I did not meet my objective today. While I spent hours with my fellow yoginis and we shared feedback, I did not consciously compliment a stranger today. I did say hello to someone at the gym however, which is not something I normally do. I liked the smile that we both shared. Reflection: I am beginning to open myself up to the random communication and interaction with people. I find that I may have come across previously as distant and while I can remain authentic, I am able to extend myself to others and that is a reciprocal feeling of goodness.
Day Seven: I met a new person in my yoga class and I connected with her prior to class. I thanked her for coming and made effort to see her. I thanked her for her sweet energy and willingness to show up. Reflection: I felt good about giving her my presence and my acknowledgement. I find that by being more engaged and present with others, I’m becoming more mindful of my extension of myself and the reciprocity of give and take.
Day Eight: today I saw a woman at the gym and she had on the most wild, amazing tights. I told her that she was rocking them. She smiled so big. Reflection: it feels so good to be aware of others and through my words, make people happy.
Day Nine: I met with a parent today that I have not seen in many years. Her son is coming into out program and to see her nervousness and anxiety about the transition is great. I complimented her on her willingness to see the services available and to be a parent who over the years has never given up. Reflection: it feel good to see someone parent to parent. I have walked her path and know what it’s like. I felt good acknowledging that.
Day Ten: Today while I was ordering my lunch, I intentionally made light conversation with the person who was taking my order. I complimented her on her hair and our conversation about it made us both smile and laugh. Reflection: It is easy for me to connect to someone who I am familiar with, but I am finding great joy in extending myself, and making someone feel valued and seen through conscious communication.
Final Reflection: At the beginning of this experience, I had to put a lot of mental thought into reaching out to a stranger through communication. At times I felt great anxiety as to what I would say, and more if it would be genuine. I realized after a few days that it was becoming easier for me to be spontaneous and I did not have the fear or anxiety that I did on day one. I began to feel that I was more present with people when I took the time to have a meaningful interaction, or at the minimum, I made a connection. This will be something that I continue to grow and nurture as I feel it is the basic need of being seen, done in a beautiful reciprocal action.