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"Not even a school teacher notices bad grammar in a compliment."
After lunch the other day with my husband, I opened a fortune cookie with that message inside. And, for some reason, that message kept popping back to mind throughout the rest of the day.
Here at the News-Journal, we regularly receive complaints that run the gamut between not enough coverage all the way to too much of it. But in the past couple of weeks, several readers have taken the time to send us compliments.
Maybe that's why the fortune cookie message stuck in my mind.
How often do we compliment others?
I was in a store the other day and there were only three registers of many open, each with multiple people waiting in line. I complained to my daughter about the wait.
But did it ever once pop into my mind about all the times I had walked right up to a register and checked out with no waiting? Of course not.
When eating out at a restaurant, do we complain if our service isn't fast enough or our food isn't cooked exactly as we expected it to be? Some may. But when we get excellent service, do we offer up a compliment? Maybe not so often.
Why are we as a society so quick to complain, but yet so slow to give praise when it's due?
It's kind of like that old saying, "It takes more muscles to frown than it does to smile." So why don't we smile more often?
As a mom, I find myself more willing to criticize my children's actions than I do to praise them. I notice the good things they do, but why don't I take the time to tell them each time? That's something I need to work on.
I remember the "caught being good" awards that children's teachers sometimes hand out. That's certainly a good idea, maybe even one that we could all take to heart.
Shouldn't we try to catch "people doing right" on a daily basis? Maybe start a "People Doing Right" campaign? Being kind has to start somewhere, and why not here in a town that most people think of as nice, friendly and kind.
Opening a door for a stranger, a pat on the shoulder, a for-no-special-reason note or card, a quick phone call or e-mail ... it really could be anything.
Why couldn't we all take a few seconds - and, really, that's all the time it would take - each day to pass along a compliment or do a good deed? Isn't there at least one positive thing each day that happens to all of us? It doesn't have to be a huge thing, even a small action can deserve praise.
I'm going to try to do that. Why don't we all?
We can even let good grammar fly out the window.