Now, this sounds like a good practice, right? I call Mama Mouse and tell her little stories of things she forgot she ever did that left a deep impression on me; I shoot an email or text message to my friends listing out what I like best about them. You'd think that people would like hearing all these nice things out of nowhere every once in awhile - but sometimes this practice is a double-edged sword, and I make people uncomfortable with my frankness.
All the same, the vast majority of people need to hear kind words from you once in awhile (if not regularly). Many times the response I've received has been one of gratitude, as I happened to take the time to express myself just when the recipient was feeling down. So for every person startled by my behavior, there are many more whose day is brightened by it.
It started several years ago when I faced a crisis period heralded in by medical problems. While undergoing this struggle, seemingly from nowhere (or perhaps it is more accurate to say "everywhere") came messages of love and thankfulness for anything from direct action on my part to my mere existence. I'd inspired this or that person without realizing it, or unintentionally became a role model. I'd really helped one mend their broken heart, and another to feel courage enough to go their own way. Realizing that I might have died never knowing their sentiments, I felt that I should pay their kindness forward and ensure that those around me are aware of how I feel.
To this day I continue to pursue this unprompted bout of honest appreciation as much as I am able. When I feel bad, the best pick-me-up is to lift up others; in speaking about the positive things they have done for me, it reminds me that any downswing is in time followed by an upswing. This is the cycle of life, and so long as you can weather the storms with a loving heart your blessings are always counted. This is the challenge, as it is far easier to turn inward and away from others when suffering.