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Earlier this week, on Jan. 20, we remembered the one-year anniversary of when the U.S. identified our first case of COVID-19 in 2020. It’s not the kind of anniversary we celebrate. But it’s the kind we’ll recall for the rest of our lives because we all know what happened shortly after it ­– our lives became roller coasters of isolation and chaos, mourning and relief.

This shared experience over the past year make it all the more notable that Jan. 24 is National Compliment Day, an unofficial holiday founded in 1998 by Debby Hoffman and Kathy Chamberlin, co-authors of the book “Find Something Nice to Say: The Power of Compliments.”

When we hear things like, “Well done!” or “I appreciate you,” our confidence gets boosted. But just as much as we like getting compliments, we have to remember that it’s equally important to give them, too. Exchanging kind, encouraging words, strengthens relationships and creates positive environments at home, at work, at school, and throughout our daily experiences. And while it seems like some people take to naturally, it really takes practice to get into the habit of complimenting others. Whether we’re shy, or embarrassed, or just caught up in our own stuff, we can learn to dish compliments like it’s NBD.

Compliments don’t have to be verbal. So, if you’re awkward about telling someone face-to-face what you appreciate about them, try writing a little note or sending a text. The best thing about compliments, though, is that they’re free! And they deliver a priceless return on that investment.

10 Ways to Participate in National Compliment Day 2021

  1. Write to your oldest relative about a happy memory you appreciate having shared with them and mail it.

  2. Text “You’re the best! Have a great day!” to someone in your phone contacts list.

  3. Leave a friendly sticky note on the mailbox that says “Thank you for all you do!” to your postal carrier.

  4. If you go to the grocery store, compliment the cashier for working hard during a pandemic.

  5. Got kids in virtual school? Message their teacher some kinds words today.

  6. Got kids? Tell them something you love about them at dinner tonight.

  7. Have a favorite celeb who’s shows, music, or art has made the past year more bearable? Send a fan letter!

  8. Roomie/spouse/partner at home juggling a lot? Compliment their stick-to-itiveness.

  9. Next time you pass your jogging neighbor on the street, share how you’re impressed with their commitment to exercise.

  10. If you want to get really extravagant, buy one bunch of the 3/$10 flowers at the grocery store and put them in a glass of water on the dinner table with a note that says, “You make my day better.” Even if you live alone, you can show yourself some appreciation, too.

On the flip side, a lot of us have to learn how to receive compliments gracefully, too. Contrary to what we may think, it’s not humble to discount the kind words someone has made an effort to share us. So, let’s stop poo-pooing praise as if we don’t deserve it. The best way to respond to a compliment is to say, “Thank you!” and smile.