(a spontaneous half-size post to help you past the middle of the week)

We are in Dallas and our hotel room contains a magic mirror. By coincidence it hangs right by where I dress, so every morning I see myself shirtless (sorry if that image ruined your day). Just between us, I like what I see. As of January 10th I am a full ten days into my new plan for eating less and exercising more this year, and as I got dressed, I looked in the mirror and realized…I look good, as in slim and buff and statuesque and so forth. I stood up a little straighter when I saw this (and looked even better!) and I don’t want to brag, but wow–ten days of not trying very hard has made some massive improvements, and I was feeling pretty fine about 2017. Seriously. I felt really good, to a degree that actually shocked me a little. Am I really that vain? And even if I am, who cares–I look great!

The word narcissism describes an obsession with self and one’s own appearance. It comes from Greek mythology’s Narcissus, a strikingly handsome, painfully proud hunter who was consumed with himself. To punish him for his hubris, a Greek goddess lured him to a still pool, where he saw his reflection. Narcissus was so taken with his own image that he refused to leave, eventually dying there in self-adoration.

It turns out our hotel mirror, like most “Seen on TV” offers, is too good to be true. The give-away was my face, which looked lean and chiseled (and awesome!), and I began suspecting this was some kind of “funhouse mirror,” like the ones that make you look taller and slimmer. So I slowly leaned my head 90 degrees to the side, and watched as my face gradually became wider and my head became more like a bowling ball. Mystery solved. The compliment the mirror was handing me was untrue. But wow, it felt really good!

The biggest problem with compliments is knowing whether to spell them with an “i” (compliment) or an “e” (complement) or a “w” (clown). Actually it’s this: we don’t give nearly enough of them, and I think this is because we forget how unbelievably powerful they are. A simple compliment, sincerely delivered, will go a long way toward making someone’s day, and probably yours as well. It’s a win-win. If your day is going badly, you can improve it noticeably by sharing a positive observation with someone else: a free gift, unexpected, unearned, deeply appreciated. Much of finding happiness involves taking steps to actively pursue it, and this is one of the best 2-for-1 deals out there: increase your happiness while increasing someone else’s.

If you aren’t sure how to give a compliment, here is a detailed guide, so between now and midnight, try this simple experiment; compliment someone and watch what happens. The results might surprise you.

I am totally ordering one of those mirrors for my house. And one for my office. And one for my car. I wonder if they come in a six-pack…

Next time: The simple lie that can change your life