Helping People to Look on the Bright Side

Jamie Jenkins


If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. My mother taught me that and it is pretty good advice.

Equally true is the fact that you can usually find something nice to say. Last week someone said to me, “You look good. How much weight have you lost?” I appreciated the compliment but the person was just being kind or was not very observant. I have not lost weight but I have not gained any in the past three years.

I don’t have a weight problem; I have a waist problem. Nevertheless, it was good to hear those words rather than “You look like your waist is expanding.”

Kind words are not hard to come by and they are very helpful.

Have you heard of “The Compliment Guys?” A couple of years ago Brett Westcott, a sophomore in civil engineering from Plainfield, Ill., and Cameron Brown, a sophomore in business management from Toledo, Ohio, started standing at the center of Purdue University and passing out compliments to strangers every Wednesday from 12:30-2:00.

After passing compliment to hundreds of passersby, Brown said the pair began receiving the best compliment of all - other people occasionally joining them in dispensing compliments to strangers.

Videos of the two college students earned many hits on YouTube. They soon gained national attention and appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show. After a while they took their show on the road in a ten-city tour which included Atlanta. The goal of the “BrightSide Tour,” sponsored by Kodak, was to encourage people to look on the bright side of life.

 “We just like giving out compliments,” said Brown, a management major. “People walk with their heads down, and we want them to look up and smile.”

During their visit to Centennial Olympic Park, in downtown Atlanta, they carried their hand-lettered sign (“Free Compliments”) and said sweet things to complete strangers:

In an hour’s time the 20-year-olds spread hundreds of commendations, giving the thumbs up to beards, beads, smiles, shoes, and even sandwiches. (“Enjoy that sandwich! That looks good!”)

Sound silly? Maybe, but it is shows how simple it is to make a positive difference in people’s lives. It certainly is better than cynicism and sarcasm.

“Anxiety and worry weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up” (Proverbs 12:25). Perhaps this is one little (?) way to do what Jesus told us to do “Let your light shine.



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