by Todd Smith

Did you know you have the power to make our world a better place?  “Who? Me? Impossible!” I hear you saying. But it’s true.

In this world of turmoil and strife, with chaos everywhere across our nation and around the globe, there has never been a greater hunger for simple words of encouragement. Excessive stress, lack of control, financial pressure, uncertainty about tomorrow—these are all taking their toll on people’s emotions, health, and morale.

However, there is hope. There is one indispensable ingredient that can transform and inspire individuals, improve life, grow positive a attitude, build self-esteem, and enhance relationships. That ingredient is encouragement.

Albert Schweitzer said, “Sometimes our light goes out but is blown into flame by another human being.” There are two ways to rekindle that flame, to give the gift of encouragement—by your words and by your actions.

By Your Words

Your heartfelt and positive words can make a difference in a person’s life, which could lead to a change in the community, nation, and world. Mother Teresa said, “Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.”

Here are some positive ways to encourage people with your words.

1.  Offer praise for ordinary accomplishments. Look for the little things that most people take for granted. Make it personal. Look the other person in the eye, pause, and share your words with real meaning.

2.  Show appreciation. Watch for the slightest improvement in someone. Be specific. Avoid clichés like, “You’re doing a great job.” Instead tell the person exactly what it is that you appreciate about him or her. Is it their timeliness, work ethic, the way they treat customers or the way they ran the meeting? Perhaps it’s someone’s weight loss, efficiency, or tidiness.

3.  Let someone know you are praying for them. I have yet to hear anyone turn down a prayer when needed.

4.  Offer words of cheer for someone depressed, discouraged, or overwhelmed. A timely encouraging word can give a person that is ready to quit the fuel to keep going.

5.  Honor the person who has reached a milestone. Don’t hide it. If appropriate, express your appreciation publicly.

6.  Compliment someone when they aren’t expecting it. Look for something that other people may have overlooked. Tell them what it is and why you think it was worthy of notice.

7.  Always say please and thank you. Always means every time, even if it’s their normal responsibility, such as cooking a meal, typing your report, or cutting the lawn.

Remember that kind words cost you nothing, but can accomplish much.  King Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, wrote, “A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.”

By Your Actions

1.  Take time out to listen. How many times has someone said, “I feel better” after talking to you about something, when all you did was listen?

2.  Send a card, email, or text telling people you appreciate them. Intentionally written words can be a powerful source of encouragement.

3.  Physically help someone in need. It could be shoveling the snow for an elderly couple down the street or helping a co-worker who is running behind.

4.  Be kind and considerate. It could be as simple as a smile, opening the door for someone, or acknowledging your co-workers.

Your supportive actions and words of encouragement don’t just enhance the lives of others; they enrich your life as well. The simple act of showing you care strengthens your relationships, builds trust, and increases your influence.

Are you willing to put forth the effort to recognize, appreciate, and encourage others? This may be hard
for some of you who desperately need it in your own lives. It’s not easy dishing out encouragement when you are starving for it yourself, but it may be just the thing you need.  We should remember the words of George Adams: “There are high spots in all of our lives, and most of them have come about through encouragement from someone else.”

Let me urge you to answer these three questions?

1.  Being honest with myself, on a scale of 1-10, how encouraging am I?

2.  How can I become more supportive (in word or deed) of others?

3.  What changes am I willing to make to become an encourager?

Your gift of encouragement has the power to change lives!