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Accepting Compliments as a Way to Practice Happiness

22 January 2019

Eden read How to Accept A Compliment—Even if It’s From Yourself by Micaela Marini Higgs and thought about the value of “acknowledging the small wins.”

Tags: communication, eden read, happiness

I’m not the best at receiving compliments. Whether it’s about how I look, something I’ve cooked, or work that I’ve done, my first response to a compliment is usually an internal cringe (that I think hide pretty well) followed by an, “Oh. Thank you.” So, when I saw the article, How to Accept A Compliment—Even if It’s From Yourself by Micaela Marini Higgs, I figured if there was anyone who had something to learn, it was me.

You might experience this differently, but one of the reasons I don’t always enjoy receiving compliments is because there are few things that make me feel more uncomfortable than having attention drawn to me. Whether it’s being called on in class, ordering food at a crowded table, or even being sung happy birthday, any situation when all eyes are on me is a breath holding, counting down the seconds til it’s over kind of moment. Another reason I sometimes find accepting compliments difficult is because I can be very critical of myself. So, while others notice or comment on the good in what is, I (pridefully) tend to dwell on what’s lacking. It turns out, this tendency is not exactly “best practice” when it comes to accepting compliments.

Higgs recognizes that accepting compliments or praise can feel awkward and for some, might even feel a little bit vain. But she also says that cultivating a practice of celebrating successes over time can contribute to your overall happiness and can help you become an advocate for yourself later down the road. Even if your accomplishment is a very small one, it’s important to learn how to comfortably acknowledge your success without feeling the need to offer disclaimers. So, here is how Higgs would advise you to respond the next time someone compliments you. “Keep it short and sweet, with responses like: ‘Thank you, I’m glad you said that,’ or ‘I appreciate your noticing, thank you for letting me know.’ No word vomit or undermining allowed.”

I would also add to Higgs’ advice that you don’t have to agree with someone's compliment to accept it graciously. If you’re having a hard time believing a compliment, focus less on the specific sentiment and focus more on the kindness of the gesture. This helps me to get out of my critical mindset when someone says something kind about me.

Higgs’ article also discusses the importance of celebrating your success on a personal level and offers advice on how to be more resilient when you experience disappointments. I recommend reading her article if you want to learn more.


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Natalie Brown
Jan 23, 2019

Extremely relevant read for me. Thanks for highlighting.

Eden Green
Jan 23, 2019

Natalie, I’m glad you found the post relevant. Thank you for reading!


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