Favor offering and repaying and gift giving and receiving were column headings on a giant scorecard I kept in my head, and I never wanted to lag behind. Worrying that I wouldn't be able to afford to reciprocate heightened my distress. All that anxiety and worry was the knife that severed my connections with the people who loved and cared about me. Ultimately, my incessant rejecting of gifts--whether they came wrapped with a bow, arrived in the form of favors and help, or appeared as kind words uttered just when I needed a pick-me-up--signaled to my friends and family that their offers weren't welcome. Eventually, they dried up. And so did the friendships. When I said that I didn't need help after a dinner party or claimed that I really was in need of a haircut when someone complimented me on my appearance, I was unwittingly keeping my friendships at arm's length. And there are parents who would willingly donate a kidney to their child and experience no sense of loss whatsoever, only immeasurable gain. The word sacrifice means to make sacred. Those three words contain no notion of self-annihilation, gnashing of teeth, or loss of any kind. To the contrary, they invite us to lift our acts to a level of joy and celebration. That may mean letting go of things or activities that hurt you, but it never means giving up anything that will help you. If something makes you truly happy, it is helping you, and there is no need to cast it aside. If you must sacrifice something, renounce fear and dump self-blame and emotional torture. Place into the fire of freedom all the beliefs about yourself that keep you bound in chains of smallness and unworthiness. Give up seeing yourself as a body only, and accept your reality as a living spirit. Then you will have sacrificed all that you are not, in favor of becoming all that you are. Some studies suggest that people who give compliments are perceived as smarter than those who don't. You may be inspired. Noticing that someone else has done something well or achieved something impressive, and deepening that impression by commenting on it, you just might give yourself a kick in the ass to get working on your own good deeds.

Virtues are acquired through endeavor, The Secret to Great Compliments: Listen Up! IF YOU WANT TO deliver a compliment that will really mean something to the recipient, start by simply paying attention to what she says and does, and then thinking about what matters to her. Has a friend been working hard to get back into shape, with good results? Don't just comment on her weight; Did an obsessive foodie invite you over for the best supper you've had in months? Compliment the execution of the most delicious dish, not the platter it was served on. My friends didn't see me as independent and self-sufficient but rather as someone who, in rejecting their offers, was rejecting them. I felt alone. Without support and the warmth of hearing that I was beautiful or had done something well, my self-esteem flagged. And I was completely exhausted because I had trapped myself in a corner where I had to do everything single-handedly. I didn't realize that I was rejecting the very things that I--and every woman I know--wanted most: more time, help, understanding, prosperity, and validation. I didn't realize my isolation was self-imposed--I just thought life was overwhelming. All of us at certain moments of our lives need to take advice and to receive help from other people. ALEXIS CARREL I Thought I Was Superwoman Feeling as if I had to be a superwoman who didn't need anything from anybody also put a strain on my marriage because I didn't know how to receive from my husband. Make a list of the things you think you should do, What I Think What I Would Situation I Should Do Love to Do

Practice leading with Love rather than Should, Beyond the Missionary Position One of the most seductive and destructive ploys of the ego, in the name of doing good, is the temptation to influence others to believe or act as we do. Such a campaign always springs from insecurity, and should be avoided at all costs. A survey of the world's bloodiest wars, crusades, and inquisitions reveals a long series of missionary attempts to draw converts into the fold - and get rid of anyone who does not parrot the party line. The Spanish Inquisition and Hitler's ramarticle are classic examples of painfully deluded vendettas in which many millions of people were killed in an effort to scourge the world of infidels. When we seek to influence someone to join our program, convert to our religion, or purchase our product, we must be extremely careful mat we are acting out of a sense of service rather than rote enrollment. But then for the stylish gal who served you takeout and cares way more about decor than, say, perfecting her demiglace, please, compliment her impeccable taste in tableware. The most seductive flattery flatters the You you wish to be. With people you know even a little, it's not hard to figure out how to strike a chord. As Philip Stanhope (a. Lord Chesterfield) wrote in a letter to his son, Sincere praise is always good. You will easily discover every man's prevailing vanity by observing his favorite topic of conversation, for every man talks most of what he has most a mind to be thought to excel in. Touch him there and you touch him to the quick. It's good advice, and it has been for a long time: Chesterfield's Letters to His Son first came out in 1774, and many versions of it are still in print. And how, exactly, do you learn what matters most to your friends and loved ones? When he offered to take me away for the weekend, I argued that we couldn't afford it. Instead of showing gratitude when he washed the dishes, I found fault with his work and mumbled that I could have done it better myself, which discouraged him from helping the next time. I said, That's okay when he offered to make dinner because I figured I could do it faster.

After I snarled, Yeah, right when he told me that I looked great before an important meeting, he stopped complimenting me. Then I was mad because I felt unnoticed and unappreciated. What a mess. And that's not all. I felt guilty when I was relaxing or doing something I loved, like walking along the beach or buying a new pair of shoes, because not only was I intolerant of other people's kindness, but I hadn't yet developed a tolerance for treating myself well. Instead, I worked long hours at a job I hated because that felt useful and important, even though it didn't make me happy. No wonder I was always cranky. No activity is necessarily made better because more people join it; When we set out on a campaign to enroll more devotees, we have confused quantity with quality. The ego takes pride in numbers amassed; At the completion of my seminars I talk to the graduates about applying the principles of the program back home. I tell them that it is more important to be the message than talk about it. I advise them to say as little as possible about die training, while practicing its principles continuously. I suggest that they go home and shine so brightly that others will remark, Wow, you look great! What have you been doing that has made you shine so bright? Given such an invitation, you might share your experience of your seminar, religion, or product. You do not need to brag, influence, or cajole. It's not difficult. Good listeners can easily become good complimenters (not to mention good conversationalists, good colleagues, and good confidants, but let's stay on point here). Though former White House Social Secretary Letitia Baldridge has said that listening has become a lost art--and, sadly, she's right--it's a skill that's not hard to learn.

And while listening can certainly give you great material for compliments, remember that the act of listening itself is a pretty nice compliment too. When you listen carefully to someone, you make him feel important. As Mary Kay, head of the direct sales cosmetics empire, pointed out, Everyone has an invisible sign hanging from her neck saying, `Make me feel important. Exclusive attention to the person who is speaking to you is very important. Nothing else is so flattering as that. Here are a few tips for listening well: Let the person who's talking finish what she has to say, please. I am a reformed poor receiver. Our dilemma is that we hate change and love it at the same time; What to Do When the Easy Times Hit Most people know what to do when tough times hit--circle the wagons, hunker down, and try to get through as best you can. If tomorrow is the big deadline for a project that's not ready, you'd probably make a pot of coffee and plan to work through the wee hours. If money's suddenly tight, you ration what you have for groceries and other necessities. If you lose your job, you network like crazy until you get another one. When the goal is survival, it's not hard to figure out what to do next, and you don't feel guilty about it. But when you suddenly have a free afternoon with no responsibilities, get a nicer car than you've ever had, attract an amazing guy who falls in love with you, or get promoted over three people who have been at the company longer, what do you do? You try to enjoy it, of course. You just need to be. In the atmosphere of your radiant being, those who will be served by knowing more about the program will naturally be attracted to ask. I have found that this kind of organic growth works deeper, stronger, and longer than a hyped-up campaign.