Reader Challenge

Positivity Challenge Week 4: Drive-by Compliments

“You have beautiful hair.”

I almost had to look behind myself to see who the cashier was talking to. It couldn’t have been me. I barely finished drying it and just stuck it up in a ponytail in the morning and hadn’t taken it out since. My bangs were sure to be oily (from my huge forehead) and my roots were starting to come in. But she was, in fact, talking to me. And it brought a huge smile to my face as I said, “Thank you!” After my husband and I picked up our bags and started walking away, I realized I should have said something nice back. She had a really nice accent! Or… um… crap… I didn’t even see her name to compliment her next time I was shopping. I’d been blindsided by the compliment. I’d been the lucky recipient of a Compliment Drive-by.

Image Description: a wall with a bright blue door. On the side of the wall is graffittied in stencil "You are Beautiful."
(Image: You are Beautiful, a Creative Commons Attribution No-Derivative-Works (2.0) image from cdagenhart's photostream)

You’ve probably had the impulse to give a Drive-by Compliment before. You’re on the subway and the girl across from you has some really amazing shoes. Or the person in front of you in the coffee line has the greatest smile you’ve ever seen. Or one of your customers has the coolest manicure you’ve ever seen. You want to express your appreciation for the coolness of the person… but you don’t. You don’t know them… it would seem creepy… they’re just a stranger… they’ll think you’re hitting on them… how would you like it if someone randomly complimented you?


Back up to that last one.

How would you like it if someone randomly complimented you?

You’d love it! A genuine, agenda-less, honest-to-goodness compliment? It would make your day. And you know what? It’s a two-way street. The person giving the compliment has their mood boosted by the knowledge that they made someone else happy. It’s a win-win.

This Week’s Challenge

Make someone’s day. Every day this week, dish out a Drive-by Compliment. Walking down the hall and see someone wearing a great outfit? Tell them! Waiting at the doctor’s and like the flowers on the receptionist’s desk? Let them know! Need help? See our own Buster Blonde’s guide on How to Give Good Compliments.
You may notice that I’m focusing on strangers here… feel free to throw compliments at your loved ones, too! But that works on your positivity in a completely different way, which we’ll focus on in another challenge.

This Week’s Mantra

Part of why we’re doing this a sort of transitive property of positivity. In The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, the author discusses the curious effect of gossip: when you gossip about others, the people whom you’re gossiping to infer those same attributes you’re talking about to you. Good and bad. By dishing out Drive-by Compliments, we’re kind of tricking ourselves into this as well. So this week’s motto gets to the heart of this week’s challenge: “See in yourself what you see in others.”

Mantra Feb 1

If you want a reminder of your mantra for the next week, feel free to click the image above to download a wallpaper-sized version.

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional or mental health expert, and there are problems that positivity cannot overcome, so please do not take this advice in lieu of a doctor’s care.
Not all challenges will be relevant to everyone, so I welcome you to come and go as you please and take from each challenge what works for you! Please make sure to share your thoughts in the comments!

By Crystal Coleman

Florida girl living on the west coast. During the day, I consult in social media and community management. I have a really cute puppy (Elphaba) and a British husband (I keep him for his accent) as well as an unhealthy relationship with parentheses.

10 replies on “Positivity Challenge Week 4: Drive-by Compliments”

Her name is Emily.  I’ve known her since like 9th grade or so. She’s one of the sweetest girls you’ll ever meet and this article is a testament to that point.

And as far as this challenge goes… I pretty much do this on a regular basis. People aren’t very receptive of my compliments though as I look shaggy and grungy. Women usually think I’m hitting on them, then they get that creeped out look and guys… Well, guys actually usually accept the compliments better than women. None the less I give these ‘drive-by compliments’ all the time. I always have. But still, I appreciate the intentions of this challenge, the world needs more love.

This is a really wonderful challenge. Many of my favorite compliments have come from complete strangers. My office is near a retirement home and once one of the residents stopped me on my walk to tell me that I had a really beautiful smile and that it reminded him of his deceased wife’s smile. We talked for several minutes, standing on the street, him telling me some stories about his wife. When he parted, he patted my hand and thanked me for talking with him, and I felt very happy for the rest of the day. To me, that was one of the nicest things anyone has ever said to me.

My freshman year of college, a random guy stopped me in the street and told me I was “a vision.” To this day, my friend that was with me still reminds me of that. It made a big impression on both of us.

Working in customer service, I try to say genuinely nice things to my customers when I can. After a while at that job, I can tell when I’ve made someone’s day, and that’s a really great feeling.


I decided a couple of years ago that life is too short to not say positive things when I think them.  And I think them a lot – beautiful hair, great sense of humor, awesome shoes, etc.  I push myself to do it even when I feel uncomfortable.  One time, I told somebody that she was just stunning, and it was awkward a little bit, and then it turned out she was a good friend of a good friend, and then that was SUPER awkward, and then we got over it.

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