Friday, 20 November 2015

Make Someone's Day

We overly-enthusiastic-drinkers tend to be extremely lazy when it comes to looking for a mood boost.

We have one go-to default option: vino (cross out if necessary and insert your alcoholic drink of choice).

Well, here's another one. It's way better for your liver, and your long term mental health. Plus it's costs nothing.

Pay someone a compliment.

It's been scientifically proven that when we receive a compliment, our brains are flooded with serotonin. Seratonin is an amazing (free, legal and harmless) drug. It's the 'pride' drug, the 'status symbol' drug; the high quality cocaine of the brain chemistry world.

BUT, not only does the compliment receiver get a serotonin hit. So does the compliment giver.

This process of giving and receiving flattery also builds a bond between the two, which raises levels of oxytocin in both, and it fulfils our positive expectations, which adds a great big shot of dopamine.

(You know dopamine well - that's the chemical released when you had your first glass of wine of the day back in the dark days).

So, all in all, what's not to like?

I was thinking about this yesterday when listening to a piece on Radio 4 about Caitlin Moran (one of my favourite journalists) who's started handing out cards to creatively dressed strangers in the street which read I want you to know, I really appreciate your look.

What an awesome thing to do!

Imagine you are a hormonally ravaged teenager with miniscule levels of self confidence. You've spent hours in your bedroom trying on various outfits and posting pictures on Instagram to see which get the most 'likes'.

Eventually you decide on the 'least worst' option. But ten minutes after leaving the house you know you've made an error. You're about to bail, or to walk into a party with the self assurance of a gnat.

Then a total stranger gives you a card saying I really appreciate your look.

Suddenly you stand a foot taller. You are Khaleesi! You enter that room like you're being paid to turn up. Then you pull the Year 12 God you've been lusting after in remedial maths lessons, and you embark on the great adventure that is First Love. *sigh*

Later on I was parked at  traffic light. A guy on a pizza delivery bike ahead of me sped off to the front of the queue. As he did so, a leather glove fell out of his pocket.

A young bloke on the pavement spotted this, ran into the road and picked up the glove. I half expected him to nick it (that's the kind of thing that normally happens in London). But no. He ran, at full speed (as the lights were changing) through the queue of traffic, tapped the pizza guy on the shoulder and handed him the glove.

As the traffic started moving, I pulled over, wound down my window, and shouted out to the Good Samaritan "You are a truly great human being!" then drove off.

In my rear view mirror I could see him grinning. I was grinning. I could feel that serotonin, oxytocin and dopamine having a party in my head. It made my day.

We took the kids out for supper at their favourite restaurant last night. We have a running family joke at this place, as the waiter always starts by offering us 'complimentary water.'

(N.B. This is not super generous. It's tap water. Of course it should be free).

When the water arrives, decanted into two large, earthenware bottles, the children take turns picking it up and making it 'complimentary.' It goes round the table saying Wow, Mummy, I LOVE that dress on you! So slimming! Daddy, your hair is looking PLENTIFUL today! and so on.

It struck me that every meal should start with a bottle of complimentary water.

(For more on being sober and happy read my post Smile and the World Smiles With You).

Happy, sober weekend all you gorgeous, wise and wonderful people. (See what I did there?)

SM x


  1. Dear SM - great post you equally gorgeous wise and wonderful person. I am feeling particularly great and so happily sober this weekend. Thanks for all your help with that. You rock. Love SFM x

  2. Haha yes, and it worked! Beaming! :-) x

  3. Lovely post, like LNM I too am smiling. x

  4. Hey SM - smiling from across the pond! Great post xxx

  5. you are lovely! have a great weekend too.

  6. Plentiful hair! hahhaha! OMG, SM you are ON today. BTW, you look most lovely in your blog-wear:)
    I did not know about the science (so thankya for learnin' me) but I know I love to give a compliment.

  7. YOU are a truly great human being!

    1. Aw shucks. Thanks Wendy! Am feeling that seratonin ;-)

  8. I am so borrowing the complimentary water idea - you're a GREAT human being! (and that sobriety is so slimming on you)