We all have an incredible bottomless well of power within us called kindness, and if we learn how to freely give as little as an ounce of it, once per day, kindness can really change our world for the better.
An authentic smile, a hand in solidarity and support, a willingness to listen when someone wants to speak. All these little acts of kindness are the scaffold upon which healthy relationships are formed.
If you’re wondering why that’s the case, the answer is simple: When we do something kind, our brain releases oxytocin, “the love hormone.” And as Psychology Today explains: “When this neurochemical (oxytocin) begins to flow, bonding increases, social fears are reduced and trust and empathy are enhanced,” which helps us cultivate more trusting relationships with others.
While all forms of giving are a powerful conduit for creating more love and joy in this world, as a writer, I believe words are the most timeless and eloquent medium for spreading kindness.
That’s why I try to make it a habit to genuinely give more compliments. To encourage. To inspire. To remind people of the beauty that lives in them.
Here are 11 uplifting compliments people love to hear.
1. “I love how your face lights up when you talk about this.”
Three years ago, while I was still working at Google, I ran into a friend at the gym. As we chatted, she paused and asked: “Are you okay? Your eyes look really sad.” At the time, I was extremely unhappy with the way things were cascading in my life and I didn’t know how to divert the fall.
Fast forward one year later, I was having lunch with that same friend telling her about all the exciting business ideas I had planned for myself given that I had finally decided to quit my job. She looked at me and said: “I love how your face lights up when you talk about this.” And that complement filled me with optimism and hope that I was on the right path.
Our eyes and face express what we genuinely feel in our hearts. They’re external indicators to what’s going on deep within. When you see the passion and fire in someone’s eyes or on their face, let them know. Kindle that spark. It might just be the words they desperately needed to hear.
Sometimes, the universe gifts us with omens to encourage us to carry on our journey in faith and keep walking our path. Sometimes, from the view of others, that omen is you.
2. “I really appreciate your presence in my life.”
William James once wrote that “the deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.” We all want to feel appreciated because it elicits the idea that our existence matters to someone else. If you value someone’s presence in your life, let them know. It will make them feel special, and who doesn’t crave that feeling?
You can explain why you appreciate someone’s presence in your life by layering your compliment with another genuine one: “I really appreciate your presence in my life because you bring so much joy into my life,” “because you help me see myself in a more positive light,” or “because you bring out the best in me.”
Isn’t that beautiful to hear?
3. “You inspire me to be a better person.”
A few months ago, I received this message from a reader: “You are helping me see the world and myself in a very uplifting way.” I was genuinely moved and incredibly grateful to recite such beautiful words.
As mentioned above, we all want to feel appreciated in life. Like our job matters or that we’re positively impacting someone else’s life. We want to know that our work has touched another soul, cradled it with care, and helped it ascend upward toward much greener pastures.
Sometimes, a gentle reminder of “you inspired me to do X” or “I want to let you know that your work is helping me overcome my fears and inspiring me to take action” can fuel the recipient to continue walking a thousand miles in grace. I now have a folder that includes all these lovely comments I receive from readers and I use it to fuel my motivation and keep writing.
4. “Every time I see you, you raise my spirit and my energy.”
Yesterday night, my brother’s friend came over to our garden. We sat and chatted for a while. We talked about life, travels, dreams, and friendships.
Toward the end of the evening, right before we parted ways, he turned to me and said: “So good seeing you Omar, every time I see you, you raise my spirit and energy.”
It was so heartwarming and humbling to hear those words.
If you like someone’s energy around you, let them know. If you enjoy the way they vibe, let them know. If you feel a little lighter, more positive, and joyful after interacting with them, let them know. It’s incredibly pleasing to realize that your aura and the way you carry yourself is generously diffusing a scent of zest onto others.
5. “I admire your confidence.”
We all have qualities we admire in other people. Very often, it’s the qualities that we desire to nourish ourselves with. Things like self-discipline, fearlessness, confidence, and tenacity.
A sign of emotional and mental maturity is when we recognize the volume of work a person has invested in themselves to become confident or disciplined, and instead of sneering at them as a way to mask our jealousy and judgment, we verbally applaud them for how far they’ve come.
Look, we’re all human. We’re imperfect by nature. We all have shadows we’re trying to cast away. When you encounter qualities you admire in others, make sure you let them know. “I admire your resilience,” “I admire the way you carry yourself,” or “I admire how you took that leap of faith to quit your job and start your business — that’s very brave of you.”
6. “Thank you for being you. The world needs more people like you.”
I recently wrote an article about kindness, and one of the readers responded with this: “I wish the whole world had a soul as beautiful as yours.” A few days later, I received another message from a reader: “Just wanted to give you a sincere heartfelt thanks to you for sharing your gift with the world.”
I’m not sharing these comments to boast, but rather to remind you of what Ralph Waldo Emerson once said: “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”
When someone opens their heart and bravely shares their art with the world — when they try to be themselves— they make themselves vulnerable to the wickedness and cynicism that might be sent their way.
What you can do for them is to recognize their courage, amplify their efforts, and be their voice of encouragement.
In Zulu, Sawubona is the word for hello, but it also means ‘I see you.’
When you thank someone for being themselves, you are reminding them that you see them. You greet them with love, gratitude, and regard. And this empowers them to carry that authenticity forward.
7. “You’re such a great friend.”
“What makes someone a genuine friend?” is a question that I have been pondering lately. I arrived at the conclusion that, along with 7 other qualities, a true friend is someone who will do their best to be there for you whenever need be.
Whether you see each other every single day of the year or you haven’t spoken in a few months, genuine friendships stand the test of time because they are held by the willingness of someone to part ways with what they’re doing so they can support you when you’re in dire need of help.
Great friends water your strengths. They’re kind and giving. And most importantly, they appreciate your presence and remind you to love yourself a little more. Elbert Hubbard said it best: “A friend is someone who knows all about you and still loves you.”
If you have a genuine friend, remind them of how great they are and how important they are to you.
8. “I’m glad I’m sharing this moment with you.”
Two years ago, I went on a three-month solo-trip across Central America. In Guatemala, I hiked with a group of people to a volcano’s summit.
Around sunset, we gathered at base camp to watch the sun sink into the horizon. It was a surreal moment, sitting atop the world, seeing the sun rest above a white blanket of clouds through which a cluster of volcano tops penetrated.
I turned to the few people I had grown fond of over the hike and said, “it’s a pleasure to be sharing this moment with you.” I truly was grateful, but deep down, I was also yearning to be sharing this moment with my closest friends.
So a year later in Spain, as I sat on the beach watching the sunset with two of my closest friends, I turned to them and said: “I’m glad you’re with me.”
When you find yourself in a moment of awe and wonder, turn to the ones around you and let them know that their presence is what makes the moment that much more special to you.
9. “You’re so talented at this and you’re getting better by the day.”
There’s something that a lot of people don’t realize: When someone puts out a work of art — an article, a painting, a music composition — it doesn’t matter whether you like it or not, what matters is that you appreciate the work and effort they’re actively putting in to master their craft.
They overcame their initial fear of creation. They continue to carry that anchor of self-doubt. And now, they’re battling the external noise of scrutiny.
Don’t be the voice that muddles their progress. Be the voice who uplifts them. Fill their wings with enthusiasm instead of suffocating their source of it. Spread their sails wide open so they can see the potential of what lies ahead.
Your words can be the difference between one giant leap forward into bliss, or 10 steps backward into distress.
10. “I love your outlook on life.”
What you’re saying here is this: “You have a beautiful mind.”
In a world that has defined beauty as a perfectly drawn set of teeth, an incredibly lean and fit body, or as an overly-priced designer dress, be the light that challenges conventional materialism. Compliment people for what lies in the deep: Their big hearts and beautiful minds.
Sure, it’s okay to say “I love your smile,” but how about “I love the way you laugh” as a means to shed light on the beauty of their humor, or “I really love your perspective on this matter” as a means to shed light on the beauty of the way they think, or “I love the way you treat your mom” as a means to shed light on the beauty of their kindness.
11. “I’m proud of you.”
Simple yet powerful, four words that can mean the world to a pair of people who share a mutual bond of love. Because the only two words that the recipient will have for this complement is this: “Thank you.”
They can offer nothing back to you but a deeply sincere sense of gratitude.
Indeed, a sentiment of love and appreciation is the most priceless gift of all.
What Matters to You
Maya Angelou is famous for saying these words:
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Words are powerful.
Use them to make people feel something profoundly beautiful about themselves and the world around them. Use your words to spread love and kindness because that’s how we heal and reshape a world that is riddled with hostility and hate into a cosmos that bursts with consciousness and light.