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by Cherie T. Buisson, DVM, CHPV
Certified Hospice and Palliative Care Veterinarian
Originally published on DrAndyRoark.com

My antidote to the mess that is veterinary medicine is quilting. It’s a hobby filled with beauty and creativity. Though I may be covered in thread and fuzz at the end of a project, it’s nothing like the bodily fluids and smells that come with being a veterinarian. If you read about quilting (I’m sure you’re all lining up to do so), you’ll find a common thread (of course pun intended): We quilters are terrible at receiving compliments. If you compliment a quilt, the quilter will almost certainly point out all the mistakes present in their project.

One Block Wonder quilt made by Cherie Buisson

Nice person: Wow! That’s a beautiful quilt!

Quilter: That’s sweet. Let me point out to you all the mistakes I made which you wouldn’t even notice if it weren’t for my help.

These types of situations are often classified as false modesty. It’s assumed that the person is really proud of the object of the compliment but is putting on a show. Personally, I don’t see that nearly as much as I see someone who just can’t believe that they are worthy of praise. How sad that we feel obliged to put a stop to someone trying to make us feel good.

I made a pact with myself when I started A Happy Vet to accept compliments sincerely and gracefully. As a business person, telling someone who is impressed with my lecture that they are blind/deaf/stupid, is really counterproductive. I decided that if someone complimented me, I would smile and say “thank you”. Because I’m not very good at separating my personal and professional life, I vowed to make this a general rule.

Then a funny thing happened – as I accepted compliments with gratitude, I became happier and more confident. It was as if my brain heard me say “thank you” and assumed that what the person was saying about me was true! Over time, I’ve found it easier and easier to genuinely enjoy the kindness others have shown me.  When I thank someone for saying something kind, I remember it better as well. Those positive comments stick with me for longer because I accepted them rather than brushing them off.

I know that when I compliment someone and they sincerely thank me, I think better of them than I do when they sidestep or minimize the praise. I perceive them as confident and kind. I want to be around them because they are so positive.

The next time someone pays you a compliment, respond automatically with a big smile and say “thank you”.  Even if you don’t believe what they are saying is true, accept that compliment with grace and humility. Look them in the eye. Shake their hand.  They went out of their way to be nice to you. There is way too little of that in the world today. If their compliment lights you up, be sure to tell them so. Wouldn’t you love it if you paid someone a compliment and they said “Wow, thanks! That really makes me feel good!”?  A positive response makes the person feel rewarded for approaching you.

It isn’t our job to refute a compliment. A compliment is all about perception. If someone else perceives that you are terrific, or beautiful or smart, who are you to say they are wrong? I challenge you to accept all compliments paid for the next 30 days. Put your heart into it, and give thanks enthusiastically. Then let me know at the end of that month, whether you feel an increased sense of self-worth. I think you’ll find you feel better about yourself and your fellow human beings. Maybe something good will come your way because you accepted the right compliment from the right person.  Who knows what kind of wonderful connections could be made with simple acknowledgment and gratitude?