Every year on March 1th, in various countries attention is paid to 'compliments day'. We also know it in Belgium and the Netherlands. People are encouraged to give each other a compliment more often on that day. A nice initiative, because compliments are important. Never even hearing a praising word can result in negative consequences. Recently I attended a meeting where the example of Deborah was discussed. As a child, she was often treated in ways that made her feel humiliated. She was rarely commended. She thus developed a negative view of herself. When she made small mistakes, she felt that she was a complete failure.  

Also in my book 'Stop Stress' I mention some of these examples. When we talk about stress, we usually think of a busy businessman or manager. But in my doctor’s practice, I've had a lot of female patients who were very tense. One of the causes was the feeling of not being appreciated or hardly appreciated. It is taken for granted that they take care of everything at home. But they are rarely praised. It's going to cost them their energy. It increases tension and stress. Scientists recognize this. The well-known American psychologist William James (1842-1910) said: 'The deeply human emotional need is the need to be appreciated.' Research has shown that in people who receive a compliment, the 'reward centres' in the brain are activated. That gives a feeling of happiness. Other studies indicate that compliments increase engagement with tasks. People seem to work harder when they feel they are appreciated. Praising words even motivate more than a monetary reward. As the aforementioned example of Deborah shows, it is also important for parents to be generous with compliments. It prevents their children from developing a negative view of themselves or even feelings of worthlessness.

In short: give a heartfelt compliment more often. Don't just think about it every year on March 1st, start today!