How Compliments Changed My Life


“Compliment 3 people each day.” 

I read this in a Moral Science book at school. I remember thinking how nice it would be to hear something nice about myself from 3 people every day. Hey! Don’t laugh. I was 12. 

But I tried to incorporate it into my life constantly.

I would find something nice to say about my friends. (There aren’t many opportunities when you’re at a school where everyone wears white and grey uniforms all day and you spend your evening studying and learning dance.)

I would tell my friends that they did a great job on a project or class, and when I was in college, I would appreciate dressing senses or talent as much as I could. 

Seeing the smile on someone else’s face made me happy. 

The Power of A Genuine Compliment

Then one day, I saw a stranger. I was 21 and she was maybe in her early 40s. Wearing a crisp sari, with hair tied into a tight bun and with just the right amount of makeup and jewelry. Standing at the train’s entrance, she was looking out, deep in thought.

I wanted to be her someday — someone, who another would look up to. 

I wondered if she would like to know that. I had never complimented a stranger before. As I stood on the other side of the entrance, the air from the rushing train running at our faces, I said, “Excuse me.” 

She turned around. Smiled. 

“You are really elegant. I love your sari. I hope I grow up and be like you someday.”

Her smile increased ten fold and reached her now twinkling eyes. 

“You will not believe the horrid day I’ve had. I so needed something like that. You really made my day!!! Thank You.” 

And we went onto talking about where we lived and what we did only to never meet again.

But knowing that I had turned her bad day into just a little better one changed my life. 

You see, ’til then, the compliments were only something I said to make someone happy — just words elaborating on what a person might already know. 

I never thought they would have the power of being more than that — to have that ability to make someone else’s day better. Through all this, I never thought what it would mean for myself.

And Then Came the Turning Point for Me

I was 26. Down and out. I thought I was never going to be happy. I went through the motions — work, home, work, home — in probably the worst phase of my life. People dubbed me “Ice Princess” for my cold demeanor towards people. 

Then I made an acquaintance at work. She was wearing a white salwar kameez with a bandhani dupatta — one of my favorite outfits of all time. And I mentioned it. I said how pretty she was looking…more out of habit than anything else. 

But her coming into my life turned my life around. 

She was even better than me at giving compliments — genuine words of encouragement. And she noticed things about me that  I had forgotten existed. She would comment on how well I had dressed one day or a well-written email. She would tell me how beautiful I looked and did simple things like giving me cards (which I had not received ever) on a job well done, to say thank you or just to say how great a friend I was. More than anything, she made me feel like I mattered. 

I started noticing things about myself again. I wasn’t all that bad maybe. Little by little, my self-confidence returned. I enjoyed her company. We became the best of friends, and she made me a better person all around. I started smiling again. 

My life changed completely. You see, this was around the time my mom was looking for suitors for marriage, and I really wasn’t into it at all. But as my confidence returned, so did my will to be happy. I knew I deserved someone exactly as I wanted, so I changed the way I would talk to prospective grooms. This was the time I met my husband — the man I would end up spending the next decade with and having two beautifully magical kids with!

And all because of that one compliment I paid a stranger.

Spread That Glitter 

No matter what the situation, be it out of gratitude or appreciation or sharing the credit and more, make the easy effort to let the person know how wonderful they are or how amazing they are at what they do!

There a HUGE number of reasons why people may be having a bad day — some of them really depressing even. But if a few words by another friend or a stranger — genuine words of appreciation — could help bring a silver lining into that cloudy day… What better way (and possibly easier) is there than that to make a difference in the world? 

Who knows? It just might change their world around.