Mark Twain once remarked, “I could live for a week on a compliment!” Compliments, appreciation, and positive regard are available to us and can come through us every day.  When we receive a gift, whether a present, a winning blue ribbon, or even a smile - we feel better.  We feel enriched. Our whole face lights up! We are smiling! 

Did you know?  The giver of the gift also receives a lift.  A perceptible, quantifiable lift comes to the giver.

And did you also know, everyone watching the gift-giving also receives a lift? An internal buoyancy, a benefit. 

Like a pebble dropped into a quiet lake, the centrifugal force of the gift-giving is felt throughout the room.  Everyone benefits!  Which means after this gift-giving exchange on the Internet, dear reader, we all will feel better than when we started!  Through positive contact,  we are enriched.

There is something magical about peer to peer gift-giving that raises our self-esteem, our self-confidence, our self-worth. The sense of, “I can do it!”  In the public speaking industry where I come from, you are seen, you are heard. You are appreciated. You are held in positive regard.  You are appraised with praise.

Praise begins with a warm welcome to the front of the room. You shake hands with the president. Lucky you! All the people are clapping! Like a celebrity, you get to wave to a cheering audience.  Then comes winning your first First-Place blue ribbon!  In the midst of the applause, your heart soars as you claim your prize!

My first First Place blue ribbon on the refrigerator was more important than the diplomas on my wall because here was recent, tangible proof I was seen, heard, and appraised with praise by my fellow speakers. I felt part of something bigger than myself.  Something we, as humans, intrinsically long for – to belong, to be valuable, to be useful.  To find connection.

You may recall in the movie, “The Wizard of Oz,” how the Cowardly Lion was a-quakin’ in his claws with fear?  However, the Wizard sees past what the Lion thinks on through to the Reality: The Lion is not cowardly, but courageous!  All he was missing was the praise. When the Wizard pins a beautiful medal on the Lion, instantly the Lion gains courage. Can we see ourselves in this scenario? Inside us a courageous lion, seeking to be seen.  Truly Seen.

To underscore this theme comes the inspiring book entitled, “Tribe.” “Tribe,” authored by Sebastian Junger, describes the history of the Red Man vs. the White Man. 

When the Red Man captured the White Man, the White Man seldom tried to escape. He did not want to leave.  Why?

Enjoying the tribal way, his feet returned to Earth, and he regained freedom from the White Man's trappings of life; the traps of misplaced values.  As he regained his feet, so he regained the family of man; became one with the Hoop of Life.

On the other hand, when the White Man captured the Red Man, the Red Man either tried to escape or he died. Either way, he exited.  The Red Man could not embrace the White Man’s ways with his square houses, walls, and stairs, disconnecting him from Sacred Mother Earth – disconnecting him from the Sacred Space with his fellow man.

The author goes on to say today’s social problems stem from our being more White than Red - as we continue to live in square houses, drive square automobiles, and have square boxes in front of our faces with smart phones, I-pads and computers. Living more Facebook and less Face-Time. To counter this, we bring balance to our lives when we come together as we have here - for the underlying reasons of communion and companionship.

The Lakota Indians believe loneliness is the one emotion mankind feels the same.  When I tell you, “I’m lonely,” you know what I am talking about.  You know how I feel.  No need to quantify or qualify. Likewise, when you tell me you are lonely, I know.  There's no need to describe. We meet at that level. The Lakota go on to say the cure for loneliness is found in the human touch. And through the human touch, Great Spirit is found. Great Spirit is found in our togetherness.

While we may not always touch one another on the physical, we can touch one another with our eyes, our ears, our words, our positive regard.  Spending time together in prayerful, loving silence. Even now, right now, Great Spirit can be found among us.

We lift ourselves when we lift another, when we praise another.  By nature, we are flawed.  So, there is no talent in finding the imperfections of others. We receive what we validate. Validate what is right in the world, what is right in you, what is right in others. Validate the importance, the talent, the goodness, in each other and in yourself. Our best comes forward, our goodness shines, when we praise with praise.