I love the message that this cartoon conveys, but I just wish it wasn't all about the hat.
Complimenting an item of clothing is the lowest form of compliment, which is why it's so easily applied to strangers.
If you don't know the person, it's easy to comment on their relatively irrelevant exterior since their interior is oftentimes impenetrable, especially when time is limited.
Still, I avoid this lazy form of compliment at all costs. Having vowed to never make a negative comment about a person's appearance ever again, I've slowly begun avoiding comments on physical appearance altogether. In fact, with the exception of my wife and children, I have managed to avoid any comment on physical appearance - positive or negative - for more than two months.
This does not mean that I have forgone complimenting people. I simply look for things that actually matter, which for me is what a person says or does.
That's it. This is what I choose to care about and choose to focus on.
My podcast host, Rachel, recently cut off a bazillion inches of hair off her head. Not only did I not notice the change (which was admittedly a little bizarre), but I had to explain to her that even if I had noticed the change, I probably would've said nothing about it because I don't care about her hair at all.
Not one bit.
So yes, we all have the power to brighten someone's day with a well placed compliment, and I utilize this power whenever I can, usually in the form of a hand written note, a well timed email, or a public proclamation of achievement. Last week, for example, I complimented a camp counselor on her expertise with my students, but I waited until her boss was standing alongside us to do so.
Timing is everything.
Compliments are great. I love to offer them and love to receive them. I encourage you to compliment me often. I just believe in making compliments as meaningful as possible.
A hat just doesn't do it for me.