In Praise Of People Who Praise


When I look over and examine the men and women who have had the most positive influence in my life, I have found that they all share one common characteristic; they have been people of praise. “The sometimes stern Duke of Wellington, in the sunset of his life, was asked how he could do better if he were to live his life over again. Said he,” I should have given more praise.” (“Men and Women of Christ”, Neil Maxwell)

For some reason, it is common to both men and women alike to look for and point out things that are out-of-order. And, in this life, there is always something out-of-order. And, in the individual lives of us all, order is never in a perfected state. Even in the lives of the most Christlike person, there is room for improvement. Consequently, there is always room to give “constructive” criticism. While giving “constructive” directions to others seems to come naturally, giving praise appears to require effort. In fact, to be good at it one needs to practice it… often. Good things come to those who give praise to others because, in so doing, one develops humility. It requires the practitioner to not only give gifts of praise, but also to abandon the vice of envy. And envy is a pretty powerful vice! But where humility dwells, envy is not comfortable.

Joseph Smith said, “Love is one of the chief characteristics of Deity, and ought to be manifested by those who aspire to be the sons of God. A man filled with the love of God, is not content with blessing his family alone, but ranges through the whole world anxious to bless the whole human race.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 174.)

Once, many years ago my wife and I moved into a new ward. We were a young couple with two babies at the time. I noted that the Sacrament Meeting Chorister led the music with great vigor. She was an older woman and I was a bit intimidated by her. However, one day something got into me. I decided to call her and tell her how much I appreciated the way she conducted the music. The phone conversation was awkward and uncomfortable; at least it was for me. The conversation consisted of me telling her I loved the way she led the music and her responding to my compliment by saying, “Thank You”. I was left holding the phone not knowing what to say next. I politely ended the conversation by saying, “Well, that’s all I wanted to say”. After that phone call I noted that she always smiled and recognized me in the hallways of the church.  I marveled at the power of sincere praise! Wouldn’t life be more joyful if all of us were a bit more generous with praise? I don’t infer that we give false praise, but there are plenty of good things about others that we can truly recognize with sincerity.

Think of how each of us felt when we last heard words of sincere praise. Wasn’t it a good feeling to be valued! Didn’t it make us want to be better! May we seek and find opportunities to give praise. Most of the time such opportunities to do so are easily found inside our own homes. A sincere daily compliment from a husband to his wife, and vice-versa, goes a long way in having a happy home. And what child doesn’t relish the smallest praise from a parent. May we practice the virtue of “praise” until it not only becomes easy for us to impart, but it becomes a “natural” part of who we become.

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