In this age of shortages, I wonder if you've noticed a shortage of compliments. When is the last time you told someone who did something well that you liked what they did? When is the last time someone told you?

It was probably a long time ago. And you probably wouldn't do it unless some event forced you to do it.As we prepared to move from Massachusetts some strange things happened. There were parties for us. Unlikely people gave us gifts. People we considered friends but didn't realize they were really good friends complimented us. People who had never said anything complimentary to us suddenly paid us many compliments. There was so much of it that it made us feel emotional.

Just because we were going.

People with whom we had interacted in the community and who had never said anything complimentary before suddenly paid us compliments. One person said, "We will miss you. Don't think that all the contributions you have made for education have gone unnoticed."

Funny thing is that we thought they had.

It is all too typical of life.

We listen to someone give a talk and we say to ourselves, "That was great!" Or we say to the person sitting next to us, "Wasn't she terrific?"

Then we leave without saying anything to the person who gave the talk.

We do the same when someone renders an outstanding musical performance. Or writes a book or article. Or teaches a class.

We silently approve.

But if we disagree we take action. We call someone up and complain. We write an angry letter. We make a big fuss.

We do the same in our employment. We may be very happy with the performance of someone who works for us or with us, and even express it to other associates - but perish the thought of ever mentioning it to the person we are happy with! We just don't get around to it.

But if the employee makes a mistake, we loudly complain. We chew him out and warn him never to do it again.

And what our about our kids? Mostly we notice the things they do that irritate us. We tell them about that. Angrily.

The messy room. The shoes and socks and school papers that are scattered all through the house. The failure to come home on time. The friends we don't like. The school assignments that came up short.

And our spouse? After being gone all day we walk in and start second-guessing a decision made in our absence. Fatigued, we fly off the handle and say harsh things we don't mean. We complain about the house, the food, the uncompleted task.

To the person we love we say the worst that is in us. We say hateful things that represent frustrations of the moment - frustrations that we keep under control elsewhere.

And where are the compliments? Oh, we control those. They're embarrassing to say. They're too much trouble.

And we don't really need them anyway unless someone moves. Or dies. Then we can say it at a funeral.

Sad as it sounds, that is the way most of us live our lives.

We ought to turn over a new leaf. We ought to look around us for the good that happens every day - and then acknowledge it. Say what we think when we think it. Verbally reward those who do well.

It is very difficult at first.

I know because I've been trying to do it lately. When I notice that someone deserves a compliment, I do it on the spot - or I call up the person and issue a big fat compliment.

They stare at me in disbelief. On the phone there is silence. They think I'm kidding. They think I'm acting out of ulterior motives. They think I've flipped out.

But I'm going to try to keep doing it.

Because it lifts someone else - someone who thought no one appreciated her work. Someone who hasn't moved.

Or died.