In the past few months, I’ve gotten a couple of compliments that I never used to get before. Three people referred to me as a “ray of sunshine” (that exact phrase), and two people called me a “powerhouse.”

I was super pleased about both of these, which is probably why I’m writing a post about them. I’m basically just bragging here. But it’s okay, because in a minute, I’m going to ask you to do the same!

As a young person, I was… well, not a “ray of sunshine.” As I recall it, I was often depressed, reluctant to interact, and quick to argue when I did. I think I love this compliment so much because I’ve come a long way.

I love “powerhouse” for the same reason. I feel like I’ve grown more confident about starting new things and heading up projects. And because I’m not depressed, I just have a lot more energy.

Besides, who doesn’t like to be told they’re powerful? It’s not a standard compliment.

This has gotten me thinking about how to recognize the best things in others and how to build them up. I know from my own experience just how powerful a compliment can be. It can turn a dismal day right around, and it can even make a person see himself or herself in a whole new light. Sometimes, the right words at the right time can make all the difference.

Besides compliments that let us know how far we’ve come, I think we also love to hear things that we value about ourselves, but that other people don’t seem to appreciate all that much.

My husband takes really good care of the yard, and I’m somewhat oblivious to it, probably because I’ve never operated a lawn mower in my life. It took me a while (okay, years and years) to realize that I should compliment him on how great the yard looked.

Obviously, we appreciate compliments more when they are unqualified. Forget “You write good battle scenes for a woman,” “You look great for your age,” or “You’re a ray of sunshine, especially compared to how moody you used to be.” Just go with, “You write good battle scenes,” “You look great,” and “You’re a ray of sunshine!”

The best compliments of all probably line up with our hopes for ourselves. They make us think, “I don’t know if that’s true,” but we really want it to be. And then we up our game.

What are some of the best compliments you’ve ever gotten? And what are compliments you wish you would get? If you’ve ever gotten an unwelcome compliment, I’d love to hear all about that, too.

Thanks for reading, and by the way, you’re an inspiration and you have a great smile.