Brain Food #760
In praise of praise
Thoughts of the day
Today I am thinking about the value of praise.
Mark Twain said, “I can live for two months on a good compliment.”
Handing out praise, gratitude and compliments enhances the well-being of both the giver and the receiver. A compliment or expression of gratitude is more likely to lead to an act of reciprocity.
And, praise is not only beneficial when handed out after major achievements. Being praised while learning a new skill helps our brain remember how to perform that skill better. Within the realms of work and parenting, there is potential and then there is performance. Acknowledging only the latter might prevent one’s potential from being fulfilled.
Yet, people don’t praise each other enough. In a research study, 90% of respondents said they would like to give and receive praise more often. In a different study, participants who were asked to express their gratitude to a group of people every day expected the impact of this act to diminish and to start sounding fake as time passed — this was not the case.
Considering the effects of Impostor Syndrome and hedonic adaptation, it might be challenging to see what we are doing well, or what is so great about what we have already achieved. Or, it could be that it has become so easy to witness so many incredible ‘success stories’ out there, that simply managing to make it through another day does not feel special or praiseworthy enough. Or, being constantly exposed to a barrage of self-congratulatory posts on social media makes us cringe at the thought of feeling proud about our own achievements, let alone sharing them with others.
We all need a little reminder from time to time, even if this reminder should be to ourselves. Stating the obvious can make someone’s day, or even the next two months.
Thank you for reading today’s Brain Food. Brain Food is a short daily newsletter that aims to make you think every day, without taking up too much of your time. If you know someone who would like it, why not forward it to them? And if you have just come across Brain Food, you can subscribe to it below:
For longer thoughts and Brain Food highlights from the archives, visit Medium.