Why Is It So Hard to Give and Receive Compliments?

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I was pleasantly surprised by this story in the New York Times today about New York's 311 information line. At least several times each day, a caller calls in to actually compliment taxi drivers. Complaints are obviously much more common. This is NYC, after all. A compliment from an unexpected source is a rare gift. It seems like it makes people's day every time an unexpected compliment is received. So then the question arises: if compliments are so validating and valuable, then why is it so hard to give them freely, and why is it so much harder to receive them? Are we just moving too fast to pay attention? Maybe we could practice giving one extra compliment to a stranger today and maybe we could place a little more attention on when somebody is giving us good news about ourselves and just received a little bit more fully with gratitude.