I spent 30 days complimenting strangers — here’s how it boosted my happiness and self-esteem.

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Before I embarked on this unusual 30-day journey, I’d describe myself as an introvert. I would much rather be lost in the pages of a good book than making small talk with a stranger. But curiosity, and a deep-seated need for self-improvement, led me to challenge myself to compliment strangers for a month.

The idea initially felt outlandish, almost like jumping off a cliff without knowing how deep the water was. As someone who occasionally stumbles over small talk, the thought of complimenting strangers was not just daunting, but terrifying. But I’ve always believed in pushing boundaries and embracing discomfort for growth.

It was tedious at first, trying to find genuine compliments for people I barely knew or had just met. There were times when my words felt forced, and I’d feel my cheeks flush with embarrassment. But as days turned into weeks, it gradually became less awkward. I started noticing details about people that I had previously overlooked.

Apart from the daily challenge of finding new people to compliment, there was also the struggle of dealing with different reactions. Some people were surprised, some suspicious, and others simply delighted; it was like navigating through a maze of human emotions each day.

But as I cross the finish line of my 30-day journey, I realized something profound: complimenting strangers did not just brighten their day; it also boosted my happiness and self-esteem significantly.

What came as a surprise? The ripple effect this simple act created — it made me more positive and confident in my interactions, which in turn made me happier. Here’s what it’s been like basking in this newfound positivity and how it has shaped my outlook on life over the past few weeks.

How complimenting strangers changed my perspective

For the first few days of the challenge, I was awash with anxiety. Striking up a conversation with someone I’d never met, let alone complimenting them, was far from my comfort zone. But I reminded myself that this was about growth and pushed on.

I began with simple compliments about appearances — a nice shirt or a striking pair of shoes. Then, as I became more comfortable, my compliments became more personal. I’d tell someone their laughter was infectious or that they had a calming presence.

To my surprise, these genuine compliments were well received. People’s faces would light up; they’d thank me and often reciprocate with a compliment of their own. This warmed my heart and gave me the confidence to continue.

But what truly amazed me was the change in myself. Each compliment I gave out filled me with a sense of joy and self-satisfaction. It was like sprinkling positivity into my life — it made me happier, more open, and boosted my self-esteem.

But one thing kept coming up that surprised me: many people seemed genuinely taken aback when I complimented them. It made me wonder why it is not more common to share kind words with strangers.

The unexpected reactions to compliments

As I dove deeper into this challenge, I was often met with surprise and disbelief. It seemed like many people were unaccustomed to receiving compliments from strangers. This highlighted an interesting societal norm — we often reserve our praise for people we know, leaving strangers out of this circle of positivity.

But why should this be the case? Why is it considered abnormal to compliment a stranger’s smile or their choice of book in a coffee shop? Isn’t spreading positivity and kindness something we should strive for, regardless of our relationships with people?

Throughout my journey, I found that people are generally receptive and appreciative of kind words, even from strangers. It lifts their spirits and brings a smile to their faces. And in doing so, it also creates a ripple effect of positivity that circles back to you.

But breaking this societal norm wasn’t easy. It took a conscious effort and a lot of courage to step out of my comfort zone.

Overcoming barriers and spreading positivity

Overcoming the initial discomfort was the first major hurdle in this journey. But it was important to remember why I had embarked on this challenge — to grow, to spread positivity, and to boost my self-esteem.

I took small steps. I started complimenting people in familiar settings like my local grocery store or the park. I found that making eye contact and smiling before giving the compliment helped in setting a positive tone.

What truly helped was reminding myself that I wasn’t doing anything wrong; instead, I was adding a sprinkle of positivity to someone’s day. This mindset shift played a crucial role in boosting my confidence and reducing my anxiety.

If you’re looking to embark on a similar journey, remember that it’s okay to start small. Don’t pressure yourself into making grand gestures right away. A simple compliment about someone’s attire or their pet could be your starting point.

And remember, it’s not just about complimenting others; it’s also about opening yourself up to positivity and growth. As you spread positivity around you, you’ll notice it seeping into your life as well, boosting your happiness and self-esteem in the process.

Taking a step back and embracing empowerment

Looking back at my 30-day journey, it’s clear that it was about more than just complimenting strangers. It was about breaking free from societal norms and expectations, taking responsibility for my own happiness, and embracing the power of self-growth.

I had to face my discomfort head-on and acknowledge that my introverted nature was causing me to miss out on potential moments of joy and connection. I had to question societal norms — why is it so uncommon to compliment strangers? And most importantly, I had to step out of my comfort zone to make a positive change in my life.

Here are some key takeaways from this journey:

  • Take responsibility for your situation — even if it’s not your fault.
  • Question societal norms and expectations.
  • Embrace discomfort as a path to growth.
  • Spread positivity — not just to others, but to yourself as well.
  • Empower yourself with self-growth and development practices.

Taking responsibility for my situation, questioning societal norms, embracing discomfort, and spreading positivity were all essential steps in this journey. These practices have now become part of my daily routine, helping me grow as an individual and live a life true to my nature.

We are all capable of change and growth. It’s just a matter of taking that first step and embracing the journey.

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Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 15 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. Check out my latest book on the Hidden Secrets of Buddhism and How it Saved My Life. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Facebook or Twitter.

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