Wednesday, March 07, 2012

The Power of Encouragement

We can probably all list a few people in our lives who have that great quality of being encouragers. They are the ones who we are always glad to see when they walk in the door. On the other hand are the discouragers - those who can suck the life right out of a room. We would all like to be encouragers, but just how is that done?

Start with a positive attitude.
Attitude is a choice. Many people don't believe it, but it's true. You can be a glass half full or a glass half empty kind of person. It's up to you. You may have been raised in a negative environment, but you can learn how to look at the world differently. How does that happen?
  • Make peace with God.
This is the beginning point. If you and God aren't getting along there's a very good reason you're miserable. We were created for relationship, and the very first relationship we were created for was the one we should have with God Himself. He has provided all that we need for peace with God through Jesus Christ. It's a gift; it can't be earned. Peace with God is the first key to good relationships with others.
  • Control your thought life.
Our minds are very much like computers, what goes in is what comes out. Read positive books, listen to uplifting music; as far as possible be around positive people. You will gradually find that your attitude towards life will take a turn for the better.

Practice good will.
Good will is really a commitment to giving other people the benefit of the doubt. We all look at people in one of two ways: either they are friends or enemies. Generally, we also find what we're looking for. If you approach someone assuming that their motives are wrong, it is highly unlikely that we will find a friend. On the other hand, if we assume the best about people until proven otherwise we're likely to be rewarded with good will in return.

Look for the good in people.
Everyone has good qualities, even if they are harder to find in some people than in others. Choose to look for the good in people - and mention it. How do you feel when others speak well of you? Doesn't it make you want to do even better? We all like to get a pat on the back, and we all tend to flourish in a positive environment. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said: "Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be." 

Practice doing the little things.
It doesn't take much to make a big difference. So often when we think about making changes in our lives we make it a huge daunting challenge. Start small. Smile at everyone you meet; you'll find that it's contagious. More often than not your smile will be returned. Make a commitment that with everyone you talk to today you will make one positive comment. Find something that is deserving of a comment - and say it. Tell the person serving your coffee that they're doing a good job. As Mother Teresa said: “Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.” Write one encouraging note to someone. Finding a note like this can make all the difference in the world, and may turn someone's day around.

Be others centered.
If you want to be an encourager, spend some time investing in another person. Ask them about their day; their life and their family. Focusing on them will help them to feel important, and everyone needs that. One of the best things we can do for ourselves when we're feeling down is to care for someone else.

Look for good examples.

Albert Schweitzer
Who are the people who have encouraged you? What is it about them that stands out? Emulate those qualities. You can become a person that people want to be around. I've included some quotes that speak eloquently to the power of encouragement. We may not be able to change the world, but we can change our corner of it.
"In everyone's life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit." ~ Albert Schweitzer


Booker T. Washington
"Correction does much, but encouragement does more." ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
 
"There are high spots in all of our lives and most of them have come about through encouragement from someone else. I don't care how great, how famous or successful a man or woman may be, each hungers for applause."
~ George Matthew Adams

"There are two ways of exerting one's strength: one is pushing down, the other is pulling up." - Booker T. Washington



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