"If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all."
It's a wise suggestion, the statement above. And you should heed its advice, but not just for compliments.
When it comes to commenting on appearances, don't do it.
When it comes to talking about food and quantities, don't do it.
When it comes to judging someone else's choices, don't do it.
But, you might be thinking, what if I want to tell someone something nice about how they look? That seems honest enough, right?
Well, yes and no.
We would all do well to stray from the desire to comment on physical appearance, even as a compliment.
What is it that makes having a good outfit more complimentary than a personality trait? Why is it that one cannot say something like, "You are radiating joy today," but instead offers, "Your hair looks good"?
Basically, why do we feel the need to comment, in general, on anything related to appearance, food or choices?
It seems simple enough to stick to your own lane, so to speak. Yet, very few people do. Instead, most offer comments on choices, food decisions and bodily appearance that were not solicited to begin with.
I don't want to you to comment on how I ate a whole brownie.
I don't want you to say I look great because my appearance changed in some way.
I don't, actually, want you to comment — at all.
My choices are my choices.
My body is my body.
My food is my food.
None of these influence you. Therefore, none should warrant your commentary.
Our society is immensely preoccupied with appearance, healthiness and similar subjects. Unfortunately, less focus is placed on personality, emotions and desires.
It is a sad truth, but it's one that can be remedied.
But it has to start at the individual level. It has to start with shifting our compliments away from the physical and material and toward the emotional and meaningful.
It has to start with you.