New Year Reflection

The new year is typically a time of self-reflection. We often focus on what we may or may not have accomplished in the past year, and set goals for what we hope to achieve in the year that lies ahead. Somehow this feels a little self-involved. So, this year, I’m going to do things a bit differently.

I recently read that scientists have found that the same area of the brain is activated when a person is rewarded—regardless if the reward is cash, or in the form of a compliment. This makes one wonder—could the best possible gift you could give to someone be a few positive words?

I want to clarify, that I’m not talking about flattery. Flattery tends to be less genuine and can sometimes feel like a manipulation tactic for someone to get what they want from you. I’m talking about authentic praise. True praise helps someone recognize their talents, possibly give direction, and ultimately raises self-esteem.

Receiving genuine praise let’s you feel you’ve been seen, heard, and acknowledged in any given moment. And it’s a beautiful feeling! An even more beautiful thing is that each one of us has the capacity to create that feeling in someone else.

So why don’t we praise others more often? Probably because we’re too caught up in our own self-involved lives. In the new year, I will to do my best to praise notable actions. Thing is, I know it will brighten someone’s day when I do so. Mark Twain once said, “I can live for two months on a good compliment.” If that’s true, perhaps a simple act of recognition really can sustain a person.   

Lisa Petty, Editor
Equal Opportunity Employment Journal