The proper response

When someone compliments you the proper response contains three, possibly four, of the following components.

First, be nice to yourself. I hate it when I compliment someone and they disregard it. Accept the compliment. You’re worth it!

Second, don’t be arrogant. Even in jest, comments like “I know right?!” can actually hurt the other person’s feelings.

Third, sincerely thank the other person for letting you know that cool thing about you. After all, they didn’t have to say anything at all.

Last, only, ONLY, (Did I mention ONLY?) compliment the other person if you can do it genuinely. Don’t tell them, “You too!” when you don’t feel it. This hails back to #2, but if you aren’t genuine in your compliment the other person knows it and it devalues the compliment they gave you. Keep in mind that if someone compliments you it doesn’t warrant a compliment back. Just showing gratitude is enough of a gift back to them. That’s all I want when I compliment someone: a thank you or a smile. Oh yeah, add a smile. However, that said, if you give  genuine compliment back it can really make their day, and yours, when they smile broadly!

So I say, “You’re awesome!” Pick one of the responses below in response:

  • Thanks!
  • Thanks! I think you’re awesome too!
  • You’re so sweet! That makes me feel fantastic!
  • I trust your judgement. You’re right. Thanks!
  • Thanks for letting me know that. You always make me feel great about myself! Thanks!

The same goes for a criticism.

First, be nice to yourself. It’s hard to hear a criticism, but it’s how we grow and you can learn a lot from mean people, or even someone just trying to help you out. Don’t take a hit to your self-esteem. Recognize that we all suck: we all have areas to improve on. Just because someone (or lots of someones) point out to you a flaw doesn’t make you a failure. Just take it with a pinch of salt.

Second, don’t get defensive. Either 1) they’re just trying to help, or 2) they’re mean. Either way, realize that they can’t lower your worth. You’re already of infinite worth and they just made you better.

Third, sincerely thank the other person for letting you know how you can increase your awesomeness. Like I said before, either they’re trying to help or they’re mean. Either way it’s the same end thing.

Fourth, if you can do so sincerely, compliment them.

So Sally says, “You know, you could really work on your tact.” Your response could sound like:

  • Thank Sally for letting me know. I hadn’t realized. I will try to do better. 
  • (You could even ask for help in how to improve.) I really do want to improve. Do you have any tips or suggestions?
  • I really appreciate your willingness to share with me. I know it can be really hard to tell someone a criticism and I appreciate how much thought you put into it and that you had the courage to let me know. Thanks for being such a great friend.
  • That’s really good feedback. Thanks for sharing.


My brother, Zeke, and I play a lot of games and we give each other a lot of feedback. At first we argued and even yelled (which is totally out of character for me, at least the character I’ve worked hard to develop) at each other, but as I matured we got much better at communicating.

The biggest final change was when my brother and I were going for an advanced (technically insane) achievement with only two players (most people get it with four); there was a lot of feedback going back and forth. At one point Zeke got really frustrated with me, when we died, again, and said, “You know it would be really nice if you stood off to one side or the other so I could kill the guys without you being in the way all the time.”

I was going to bite back when I realized three things: first, was he was trying to help me stay alive, second, he was right — it would be nice for both of us if I stood off to the side so, and third, I hadn’t realized I was standing directly and very closely behind him (so I could heal him and he could kill the guys) because I was trying to keep track of everything else going on. So I took a deep breath to change my frame of thought and said, “That’s really good feedback. Really good. I’ll do that next time. Let’s try again.” And the next time we made it through the corridor. Not only that, but then when I had feedback he took it without an argument and we could discuss, without anyone’s feelings involved, strategies. It took a couple more tries, but we got that achievement!

The key or secret in all of this is to be honest, genuine, loving, and always kind.

Also, keep in mind: no matter what anyone says at anytime, you are of infinite worth! And really, you ARE awesome! Trust me.


How to solve any math problem even if you don’t know how to do it

I’ve tutored lots of people in math over the years and the one thing that gets most people in math is they’ll look at the problem and think, “I don’t know how to solve that.” So they don’t try anything and instead they just throw down their pencil, fold their arms, and sulk. When, if they just did one or two things to the problem that they already know how to do (without knowing how it even helps them) it would change the problem into one they would recognize and they could immediately solve it.

Now, I’m not saying that you’re going to be able to solve any math problem. Each level of math (and there are infinite levels…) requires a certain base of knowledge within that level in order to be able to solve that problem. For instance, if you don’t know how to manipulate equations (by moving around numbers and variables from one side of an equation to the other and combining like terms, etc) then you’re not going to be able to solve a simple problem like 3x = -2x +1, even if you could solve 5x = 1.

What I am about to reveal is how exactly how I figured out how to do a math problem — one that had previously stumped me for two months — during the AP Calculus BC test. And good thing too because there were three other questions just like it (two of them essays) and I wouldn’t have gotten a 5 without this strategy. This is a strategy I was never taught. I just figured it out. I never thought of it as something I could teach others either as I never thought of it as a strategy. It’s just the way I think about math. I was always better at testing in math than my friends, but I never really knew why (other then I knew I could figure things out on tests even when I didn’t understand them previously). Well, this last semester as I helped my sister through her DEs class, she kept doing what I said above: throwing down her pencil and folding her arms. (Hey, we all, at some point, feel stupid doing math and resort to throwing pencils. It’s okay.) So I ended up unintentionally teaching her how I figure out how to do a math problem even when I have no idea how to do it.

How to solve a math problem you don’t know how to solve

With all that said, what do you do when you’re faced with a math problem that you don’t know how to solve (but you have the basis for). Step one: do the first thing that comes to mind that you know how to do that you can do to the problem. In the case above, get all the x’s on one side of the equation. Then presto! You know the next step because you’ve solved questions like these before. If you don’t, however, know your next move after your first, do the next thing that comes to mind and carry on until you get stuck or have solved the problem. If you get stuck, usually somewhere along the way another thing that you could do came to mind and you can try that or look over the problem and look for ideas where you could try something different. As analytical as math is, it can also be a very creative field. Be willing to just try things.

In the case where you don’t even know your first step, or have any ideas, just rewrite the problem. Something in the rewriting of the problem allows your brain to process the information and sometimes as you rewrite (you can also say the problem aloud as you write which helps your brain focus on the problem at hand), something will occur to you. If it doesn’t, ask yourself, “What can I do now?” And usually an idea will come to you.

Don’t spend too long on a problem wondering what to do. If it’s a test, mark the problem (you can circle it or write the number at the beginning of your test), move on, and come back to it later. If it’s homework then google it. You’d be surprised at the amount of information online on even advanced (I used it for my grad level numerical analysis and probability classes) mathematics you can find online. It’s awesome! You can also check your text book for the examples. Any good math text (they do exist!) will tell you how to solve your problems, er, at least your math ones. 😉

And that’s it. Just do what you know you can do, ask yourself what next, and if you’re truly stumped move on or find out more information.

Don’t fold your arms

No really, don’t fold your arms, even if you’re cold. Get a blanket and some hot chocolate instead. Then open yourself up (mentally and physically) to receiving some inspiration and ideas will come to you.

You can throw your pencil though. That’s fun.

It’s really that easy!

This method really does make math easy, at least easier to think about knowing you don’t have to know everything up front in order to solve a problem. Don’t discard this information because it’s simple. It’s by small and simple things that great things are brought to pass. Those that dismiss little things miss out on everything.

Law of Attraction BS

I don’t know about you, but I’m sick of all the BS flying around at super sonic speeds about how if you just think positive, meditate, and act (though the action part is hard to hear in all the commotion of “just think positive“) then everything in life will be peachy and easy. I’m fed up to my eyeballs with it!

Life isn’t kisses, sweet smelling smores, and cool summer breezes — those things can be found in it. Life is a freaking war. One you better suit up for if you don’t want to end up bruised and broken on the cruel cold floor of your existence.

Life is not easy.

It wasn’t meant to be.

Maybe this isn’t what you want to hear. Good thing you’re reading it then. But I do hope you’re sitting down because I’m going to repeat it: LIFE ISN’T EASY! Anyone who says otherwise is selling something.

But here’s the good news: the stuff that means the most in our lives, that really matters, is really hard. And that is what makes it awesome. That’s what makes it worth it. That’s the stuff of life. And thinking positively, having positive expectations for those good things, and trusting that good things happen, will help draw to you those things you desire. Sometimes it does seem easy when you get it, but sometimes it is very much the opposite and those things we want can take a very painfully long time in arriving if they arrive at all.

That means that there’s going to be times when you’re going to utterly break down because you can’t take one more step, when the only prayer you can pray is “Please be with me today. Just be with me,” and you’re either going to cry or be dried out of tears. That’s okay. It’s okay to feel the way you feel. You can’t have the good with out the bad. The happy without the sad. The dark without the light. The weak without the might. But it is better to pass through these hardships because on the other side is peace of mind and what you truly want.

It’s not easy. You have to stick to your guns. And be willing to fail. It’s hard, but it is worth it.

Stick to it. Dream of it. Fight for it. Enjoy all the good that comes into your life, big and little, including the people that help the good happen. Be grateful. My mom said that as she was growing up her mom would often take them camping. Before they left they always had a prayer and asked for a safe journey. But when they came home, they never gave thanks. Remember to give thanks for the good you receive: before it arrives, as you receive it, and after it comes. And thank God for the bumps and bruises too. The fight is the point after all, just like happiness along the journey.

Which reminds me. There is happiness in life and when you reach that other side you’ll feel the happiness too. It may not be the happiness you dream of — it probably won’t feel like it either; however, it’ll be something much more rewarding like an unexpected plate of cookies on your doorstep. Wonderful, gooey, and yummy.