20 People Share the Kindest Compliments They’ve Ever Received
When was the last time you got a reeeeeally good compliment? Not the generic kind that anyone can dish out—what a cute top!—but a heartfelt sentiment that truly lifts you up. One you can carry in your back pocket for years and pull out when you’re feeling down. In honor of National Compliment Day, here’s a reminder of how much kind words really matter.
“I went dancing one night with a friend and her coworkers, one of whom was a 6-foot-4-inch guy in tiny shorts and heels. I danced a lot with him because he was fierce. After a Beyoncé song, he leaned in and said, ‘I don’t know you, but you’re fabulous. Don’t ever take sh—t from anybody because you don’t deserve it.’ It was exactly what I needed to hear that night.
I broke up with my boyfriend a few months before, and I was just starting to get back out there. But everyone on the dating apps seemed lame, and I was starting to think I needed to lower my expectations. This compliment made me reevaluate that and realize, no, I don’t need to go out with people who don’t excite me just to fill my time. I’ve never seen that man again, but I still freaking love him.” —Sandra, Brooklyn, New York
“The best compliment I ever got came from my husband soon after we first met. He said to me, ‘You’re like Rainbow Brite and a Care Bear had a baby and then meditated on it.’
I used to be an overworked, stressed out, bitchy perfectionist, so I found this compliment quite validating that the steps I had taken to change my life—meditation, gratitude practice, service—actually made a difference in how others saw me.” —Kelly, Norfolk, CT
“The best compliment I ever received was from a poet, Naomi Shihab Nye, who called me ‘the central switchboard of kindness.’ That meant the world to me because more than anything I want to be known for being kind and loving. Naomi embodies love and compassion.
Her poems have been a huge influence on me because they invite me to walk in other people’s shoes and to consider what life is like for people of all nationalities, ages, colors and abilities. To receive a loving compliment from someone who is so beautiful through and through—and so talented—is humbling. It makes me want to live into that compliment more every single day.” —Sherry, San Francisco, CA
“Over 20 years ago, a neighbor told me I was so open and outgoing. That compliment went right into my heart. When I got back to my apartment, I broke into tears—all I could think was, “it works, it works.” At the time, I was struggling with social anxiety and low self-esteem, and I had just moved to another country.
I decided to seize that opportunity to push myself out of my comfort zone and was working hard to reach out to people despite my anxiety. Her words proved to me that my effort was paying off.” —Lotte, Copenhagen, Denmark
“One of the nicest compliments I ever got was from my best friend. She said that being friends with me is the reason she was able to open up and actually be herself in college because I was never judgmental and always supportive.
I carry this with me to this day because it wasn’t about my looks or something generic like me being ‘nice.’ She made me feel like I really impacted her just by being authentic and being myself.” —Natalie, Cleveland, OH
“After Mass on Sunday our parish priest said to me, ‘You look so much like my sister! I saw you while I was preaching and I thought for a moment, there’s my sister!’” He then explained that seeing me in the crowd meant a lot to him because his sister had passed away years ago, and I was a lovely reminder of someone he loved and missed.
It made me feel really good that just by sitting on a pew looking like me, I could trigger happy memories of someone he loves and obviously misses. You can bet I won’t be missing Mass anytime soon!” —Susan, Senoia, GA
“When I was studying journalism and ethnic studies at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, a friend wrote a five-paragraph shoutout about me for the 30 Under 30 list of influential women. She wrote that I had ‘redefined what it means to be passionate and strong-willed about news and inclusion,’ and that I had shown her what an ally looks like.
She had struggled with finding her voice and place as a first-generation Latina on our predominantly white campus. I only wish I could have met her sooner.” —Quinn, Brooklyn, NY
“I’m a personal trainer and it felt amazing when a client recently said ‘Thank you for being real.’ She said that I inspired her to want to be better. That’s the whole reason I went into this career.
I always want to show people how they can make small changes in their lives to be healthier. When someone confirms that my efforts are actually effective, it really feels good! Plus, I love knowing that I’m adding value to someone else’s life.” —Amanda, Woodstock, GA
“Recently, I got the best compliment of my 81 years. At a ticket counter at the airport, the agent asked to see my driver’s license. When I showed it to her, she looked at my date of birth and then at me several times. I could see that she was figuring out my age in her head.
Then she remarked, ‘You can’t be 81. That’s impossible.’ I assured her I was and that the driver’s license didn’t lie! I also thanked her and walked away glowing.” —Allen, San Francisco, California
“My best friend of 36 years and I have been through a lot—we haven’t lived in the same state since college, and have both changed so much but we always come back together like no time has passed.
We have a fight once every few years though and after the last one, she said that I’m the only friend who is brave enough to say the tough stuff and speak up when I feel like she needs to hear it. Being brave in friendship can be really scary. And knowing that it makes her love me more makes me feel like I can speak up in other areas of my life, too.” —Sunny, Portland, OR
“When my mom, Cathy, passed away, one of my close friends told me that her life had been better because Cathy was in it. While it wasn’t directed at me, it made me feel even more honored that she was my mom.
Then at the wake, a friend and coworker at the hospital where my mom worked said she pictured Cathy entering heaven with all the patients who went before greeting her with applause because of the person she was. Again, not a compliment for me, but it made me appreciate my mom even more than I already did!” —Jennifer, Oceanside, NY