It is an accepted psychological fact that human beings, as social animals, have an inherent need for love and belonging. In mental health, this translates to three things, attention, appreciation, and affirmation. People give attention simply by acknowledging and listening to one another. They give appreciation by expressing their gratitude or admiration to one another. And they give affirmation by validating the behaviors, traits, attitudes, etc. that they believe should be continued. Despite these being the most basic skills necessary for having healthy, stable, and beneficial relationships, people within dominant American culture are simply not taught them. Study after study demonstrates that children who are raised with praise and encouragement and who are themselves taught to praise and encourage others tend to be the happiest, most popular, and emotionally stable among their peer group. And yet parents within dominant American culture tend to favor criticizing children, fostering competitiveness rather than cooperation, and instilling a sense in their children that they first and foremost need to look out for themselves. The result is people who have a tendency to care more about themselves and their own self image and views than their relationships with friends, family, and significant others. In studying first impressions, psychologists found that a simple compliment or encouragement made in the first 30 seconds of meeting someone left the best and most lasting impression of a person. How many times when you are meeting someone for the first time do you think to compliment or encourage them? Can you even think of compliments or encouragement that you would feel comfortable giving a stranger? Or when you meet someone for the first time, are you more absorbed in thinking to yourself how you are coming across or what smart and funny things that you could say rather than providing some simple praise and listening to what the other individual really has to say? Perhaps you disagree. Do you think dominant American culture teaches these basic skills? Do you think that parents really consider their children's social skills? How often in your day to day life are you really paying attention to people? How often do you really show people that you appreciate them? How often do you try to affirm the things you admire about people rather than criticize the things that you don't?