Compliments vs. Criticism

As a student, I had just about no luck when it came to awards. Thanks to an attention deficit disorder I had when I was young, I had built such a wall between myself and my academic studies, that I never had one proper notebook’s worth of notes until my high school days. Throughout my entire time at school, the only award I ever received consisted of an award for effort from my second grade homeroom teacher in elementary school. My mother had taught me how to read clocks, and thanks to that, every time my teacher asked me what time it was, I was able to give the right answer. My teacher was pleased, and as he tousled my hair, he told me to keep up the good work and gave me an award for effort. As soon as school was out for the day, I ran home at breakneck speed and proudly regaled my mother with the day’s events.

For a kid who had always been dejected, my teacher’s compliment gave me much encouragement and strength. From that day on, I listened to my teacher faithfully. Then one day, upon hearing the news that he would be working at another school, I ran several miles after him down a newly constructed road and grabbed him as he was about to board a bus to beg him not to go. Judging by how the memory of the one time I received a compliment in school still remains fresh in my memory, it is certain that my brain likes compliments. And I think most people’s brains like compliments.

Ilchi Lee Thumbs UpCompliments are usually a pleasant experience for anyone. It is a human characteristic to try to repeat an experience that is pleasant. Thus, receiving a compliment increases the likelihood that a person will repeat that behavior. Our brain likes the surging of positive emotion that accompanies a compliment, and therefore remembers it better than anything else. According to neuroscientists, when a person receives a compliment, a substance called dopamine is secreted leading to the development of motivation and vitality, and even the immune system is said to be strengthened. Furthermore, giving or receiving a compliment reduces a hormone called norepinephrine, said to be released in the brain when under stress. Indeed, it seems that compliments are a veritable vitamin for maintaining brain health.

However, our society is not so very generous with compliments. Instances of being reprimanded for doing poorly are far more numerous than those in which a job well done is duly noted. Consequently, we aren’t so good at receiving compliments. But I think if the world won’t compliment me, I should compliment myself. We have been incessantly taught to be considerate toward others and compliment them, but when it comes to ourselves, it seems like we’ve learned that being harsh and causing pain is a sign of humility and virtue.

Instead, I think complimenting myself is a form of self-respect. There is much that we can fail in and become depressed with ourselves about. However, no matter how much we repeat our mistakes and failures, as long as we respect ourselves, we can start over again at any time. We can stand up again, and we can have hope.

Just as people who have received their parents’ love know how to love others, those who know how to love and cherish themselves are truly able to love and demonstrate consideration for others. We really need to give ourselves the gift of praise in order to give ourselves joy and encouragement. We put so much effort into our lives. Rather than reproaching ourselves, let us give compliments.

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13 Comments. Leave new

  • Thank you for sharing!! This is very true. It seems it is much easier to criticize yourself than to feed yourself compliments. Recently I experienced this. I have 3 big goals to achieve within the next few months – so far I have achieved 2 of them. But I noticed that I did not allow myself any time to congratulate myself on accomplishing them, instead I continually focused on how I was not able to complete the third. I was making myself miserable. I finally I realized what I was doing and told myself that I should be proud that I have so far achieved 2 out of 3 and this should give me more confidence and faith in myself that I will achieve the 3rd. It was not until I accepted the job well done that now I feel lighter and I have more hope that 3rd goal will be achieved as well.

  • This is such a great notice. I also can remember like a bright star, many compliments that I have received. I can say that it was remembering and drawing energy from these compliments that I was able to do things with confidence and then have success with them.
    I can see many people who lack confidence are very talented, but maybe they were just criticized too much and complemented too little.
    I like the idea to compliment ourselves, thats a masterful idea!

  • Great article! 🙂

  • I will politely and respectfully compliment myself more often. Thank you for this new perspective!!!!

  • What an inspiring article. Sometimes its easy to forget about compliments. It is reassuring to learn how a teacher can help the direction of a student. Thank you.

  • I definitely have grown and thrived on compliments people have given me throughout life. It is like the watering I needed to sprout the beautiful seed I have inside. You are truly a great one Mr. Ilchi Lee!

  • thank you for this reminder. i will compliment more those around me as a reflection of how i feel about myself! great!

  • This is a Goooood article. I started giving lots of compliments to those around me and to myself. I feel so happy! Ha-ha!

  • Thank you very much! I found this article quite touching. I could feel the heart of the little boy and there’s thousands of children suffering as you did out there. I pray that we can make this world a better and more loving place. I will put more effort in giving compliments to everyone I meet and switch their hope ON.

  • Thank you so much for this article. It has come to me at just the right time. I am so grateful. I love to compliment others and did a lot of that when I was a school teacher, but toward myself, not so easy. Thank you for the encouragement.

  • I just completed Dahn Master training. We hiked to the waterfall at Honor’s Haven. It was so beautiful! Then we were going to hike another trail. Due to knee problem, I decided not to go on the second trail; my first response was to be angry with myself, then I remembered that I should be proud that I was able to hike to the waterfall. I was able to praise myself. It felt so good! Praise of self is hard to do, but a good habit; if I can praise myself I can more easily praise others. Thank you!!!!!

  • I used to be unable to receive compliments from other people or compliment myself. When it came to myself, there was only negative judgment, what I was not, what I couldn’t do. Then, a friend told me that I needed to learn how to compliment myself and that I should fill an entire piece of paper with good things about me. At first, it took me 5 minutes to find three, and those three felt more like arrogance than true! Everything I saw in me was terrible and couldn’t see anything good! But the friend promised me there are enough good things inside of me that can fill the entire page and more, it’s just that I haven’t found them yet. This is what I wrote.
    i’m pretty
    i try to be nice to people
    i can run fast
    i can sing
    i’m a pretty slow person, but i can wash dishes really quickly
    i’m good at saving money, though there’s room for improvement
    i stand up for what i believe in
    i’m organized (when i feel like it)
    i’m sensitive to other’s feelings
    i’m good at following orders (like at work)
    i’m a good dancer
    i’m a good cook
    i’m positive
    i’m alert and quick in urgent situations
    I’m a good driver
    i’m compassionate
    i’m flexible
    i’m open and willing to grow
    i’m able to yield when I know it’s right.
    I’m able to forgive others and accept that no one is perfect but there is eternal hope for growth
    sometimes, i lose my dream, but i know that I will find my way again eventually.

  • Hey, you used to write great, but the last few posts have been kinda boring… come on! 😛


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