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I once worked for a hospice company that does a training for new employees called “The Circle of Care”. Great name, huh? I dig it!

Anyway, it is a lovely feel good training about the rewards of serving others. One of the things I remember from that training was an exercise where we were encouraged to put ten pennies in our pocket in the morning when we started our day. Each time we took the time to pay someone a complement, we were to take a penny from one pocket and put it in the other. At the end of the day, we could see if we had actually managed to pay ten complements to the people we encountered throughout our day.


I participated in this exercise for a few days. By the end of the first day, sadly, I still had eight pennies in the original pocket! Pitiful. The next day was a little better, I only had three pennies left in the original pocket. By the third day, I had managed nine complements.

What I learned from this exercise, not just from my own participation, but from my staff who also attempted this exercise and failed is that kindness does not seem to be something that comes all that naturally to us.

I think, for the most part, there is no ill will intended. We are simply overstimulated, overly stressed and very distracted by our own fears and worries. At least this is what I’d like to think. I’d rather think it is because of this than the fact that people just don’t care.


I certainly learned a valuable lesson from the penny exercise. I don’t want to be someone so oblivious to other people that I fail to notice and acknowledge them with kindness and one way to be kind is to complement instead of criticize.

Paying another person a complement should not be a hard thing to do but unfortunately it does take practice. The good news is, being kind does not cost us anything and we are actually enriched for it. I know that when I remember to be kind, I am a happier person because I am a nicer person.

I cannot say the same of cruelty. Cruelty is petty. Cruelty shrinks me as person and makes me smaller because if I am cruel, it takes a part of my soul away and I cannot get it back. Being cruel is doing harm to another person and there are no real reasons for this.

When you are kind you grow…so pay someone a complement today!


When you are cruel you wilt…you wither and you die just a little!


So why be cruel?

Instead…put pennies in your pocket and remember to be kind.