Bad moods are horrible. Sometimes you feel like the world is callous, critical, unjust, and unfair. Perhaps things aren’t going your way. Or maybe someone specific really took advantage of you. These are some of the reasons you can find yourself in a bad mood. In addition, sometimes bad moods come as we change the clocks and the days get darker and shorter. They can also creep up on you for no reason at all.
A common denominator of most bad moods is that you can’t shake them. As hard as you try, it can be very hard to crawl out of a bad mood. You can try to find pick-me-ups and ways to change your mood, but it can be pretty difficult. From exercise to funny memes to a toffee nut latte with freshly whipped cream, valiant attempts to change your mood don’t always work.
There is a wonderful way to help yourself feel better about the world, and about yourself: compliment someone else. Find a person around you, notice something good about them, and then tell it to them. You will notice that they will appreciate it, and you will begin to feel better. Here are the simple rules: 1) It should be something you really think is positive. Don’t be a sycophant. We are programmed to smell insincerity from a mile away. 2) Say it in a sincere way. If you do, the person will notice that. 3) Don’t be flirtatious. Stay away from anyone that might interpret this as an advance. That won’t help you.
Are you doubting how helpful complimenting another person would be? You’re not alone. Recently published research (published here and discussed here) shows that we underestimate how powerful complimenting is.
Participants in an experiment were asked to compliment a random stranger. Before they did so, they were asked to rate how much they thought the recipient would appreciate the compliment and how their mood was. They then complimented the stranger. Afterwards, they asked the stranger to rate how the compliment made him feel. (They explained that they were participants in an experiment.) Finally, the complimenting participants were asked to fill out another survey. They had to rate both how they think the recipient felt and how their own mood was after complimenting.
The research found some fascinating points. Firstly, complimenters consistently underestimated how good the recipients would feel. The people that got the compliments valued the compliments they got more than the participants thought they would. Secondly, those that gave the compliments reported a better mood after they gave the compliments than before they did.
The experiment shows that we tend to doubt the impact our compliments can have on others. Furthermore, it helps us feel in a more positive mood.
There is poetry there. When you make someone else feel good, you get a pick-me-up, too. You create a cycle. The recipient feels good and you feel better.
Some people find this technique particularly meaningful to use after someone is aggressive, `obnoxious or is dishonest with them. These things happen during the course of the day-to-day. But sometimes they can make you begin to wonder about humanity. (We can feel like Dovid Hamelech famously states – אני אמרתי בחפזי כל האדם כוזב – I said in haste that all mankind is deceitful).
It can be very helpful to use complimenting. Not only can it help your mood get back toward equilibrium, it can counteract the very feeling that created the bad mood in the first place. If someone shatters your positive view about people, rebuild it by giving a compliment. Not only does it help you, it counteracts the negativity the other person started.
Next time you notice your mood sinking, try to think of a compliment you can share. You might doubt how effective it can be. But you will end up making someone else feel good and feel better yourself, too.