“Hey, beautiful!”

A passerby shouted this to the person I was having coffee with a few weeks ago. This “drive-by compliment” from one friend to another brought a smile to all three of our faces on an otherwise dreary day.

It reminded me of a phrase that I learned in one of my many, many hours of online soccer training required to be a travel soccer coach. “Filling their bucket” was used as a metaphor for the ratio of positive to negative comments coaches should make to our players. Each positive complement helps fill someone’s bucket, each piece of criticism empties it a bit.

This should not be mistaken with the “everyone gets a trophy” culture that many lament.

Instead it just asks that we be more intentional about how we engage with one another. For example, last week my daughter missed a relatively easy goal in a soccer game and she already felt bad about it. I could have said something snarky like “How did you miss that?” or offer some pablum like “You’ll get ’em next time.” Or I could have said, “Great job getting open and calling for the ball. Next time just remember to turn your hips a little more and you’ll knock it right in.” Two positive compliments and one point of constructive criticism. Net net is that the bucket is more full. My apologies for the bad pun.

There is the old adage, ”If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” Which I get. But I wonder if better counsel would be to simply “Find something nice to say.”

After my encounter at the coffee shop, I thought about how cool it would be to have an app, where your friends could know how “full your bucket was” and if they saw it getting low, they would know to stop by wherever you are and offer you a “Hey beautiful” or some other compliment that would make your day.

Of course we don’t really need an app for that. We just need to have an appetite for it. A natural desire to satisfy this need that we all have; to be seen, to be valued, to be appreciated.

As we frantically rush around this holiday season filling shopping carts with gifts we hope someone will like, consider pausing to find moments to fill someone’s bucket with compliments we know we all need.

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