The Best Compliments Are The Ones That Transcend Aesthetics


Since crossing the marathon off my bucket list last fall and completing my yoga teacher training certification this spring, I’ve been consistently adjusting the ways in which I approach exercise, food and body image. My focus keeps changing, and therefore, my body keeps changing. However, I’ve found that the type of compliments and feedback I appreciate most remains the same.

Lately, when my HIIT teacher notices that I’m physically strong and that my form is on point and elects to tell me these things after class, my heart swells with gratitude because these are things I work my ass off for. I’ve spent years educating myself on proper fitness techniques and virtually the same amount of time using this knowledge to benefit my body and the bodies of others. I take pride in cultivating these skills, and it’s incredibly validating when someone I’m choosing to follow sees it and understands the value of this work.

I’m not sharing this anecdote to brag about my strength or good form, but rather to highlight how the best compliments always transcend aesthetics — at least for me, anyway.

My abs come and go, my cute outfits change the following day, and my good hair days disappear the second I get home and throw my waves up in a bun. These things don’t connect to any of my accomplishments. I’m not amazing because my body decided not to bloat today, I’m not the fashion designer who got the dimensions of that dress just right, and I’m not the artist who cut my hair to fall correctly in the first place.

But the actual work and effort I put into the things I love never fades. Even on my bad days, I’m still strong. Even on my bad days, you better bet I’m going to do every exercise correctly because I understand how and I care enough to do things right. And for those around you to pick up on these constants, these things that are engrained in you, and appreciate them openly, well, there’s just nothing like it.

So now it’s your turn. Take a minute and think back to the last time someone complimented you and made you feel truly proud of yourself.

Got it? Good.

I’d be willing to bet that the one compliment you vividly remember looked far beyond a part of your appearance. Its meaning ran much deeper than that, because why would you remember it so clearly if it didn’t? It fueled part of your purpose and inspired you to push further. And that’s significant.

The most important question, though, is when was the last time you gave someone else a meaningful compliment like this? If you don’t know, it’s been too long.

And someone you love could probably use a surprise boost from you today… just saying.

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