Words can build us up… or tear us down. They can ignite a fire in our soul or put it out. This past week I received an email and a handwritten card (two different individuals), with messages of validation and appreciation for who I am and how I have impacted, encouraged, and made a difference in their lives. WOW! Talk about feeling inspired. Definitely a fire lit within. Each message was a different gift, elevating my spirit... unleashing emotional energy. The messages were less than thirty words each and the sender most likely invested less than five minutes drafting the message. The return on their investment of thirty words and five minutes is exponential. You see, words of encouragement, especially when they are in writing, yield a present-day benefit to the recipient (and their world), as well as delivering future value. The encouraging messages unleashed emotional energy that positively impacted my interactions with others, my attitude, outlook, and my productivity. And do you want to know the best part about written encouragement? It is a gift that keeps on giving. A future read will unleash that emotional energy again!
I believe that we can all relate to the words of a song by Hawk Nelson:
"Words can make you feel like a prisoner, words can set you free; they can make you feel like a criminal or make you feel like a king. They lift your heart to new heights or drag you down; they heal heartache and speak over fear. WORDS can build you up... WORDS can tear you down, put a fire in your soul, or put it out."
We are also instructed to "Let no unwholesome word proceed from our mouths, but only such a word as is good for edification (encouragement), according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear it." Ephesians 4:29.
Scripture is very clear about encouragement. This includes the words we say to ourselves. How encouraging are your messages to yourself? If your words to yourself are not uplifting... you cannot inspire and uplift others.
Our WORDS have the power to lift, elevate, inspire...or destroy, discourage, and tear down. Words of encouragement spoken at the right time can change a person's life. Encouraging words unleash emotional energy while impacting confidence, mental health, productivity and more. Our words impact the receiver and their world (family, friends, colleagues, etc). There is also a magic in encouraging others...when we give the gift of encouragement, we receive intrinsic benefits as well; we feel good for lifting others. The small investment of time and heart, possibly a card and stamp have the power of exponential returns. Remember that written encouragement has a return in the present and the future of the recipient.
How will you invest in inspiring and encouraging others?
Let us do a quick self-awareness check.
Is it easy for you to encourage others?
Do you offer encouragement to family, friends, colleagues, community members, etc on a regular basis?
Where are you on a spectrum? Encouraging others is 1, difficult, not something you do------> 10, part of who you are
Once you have zeroed in on your reality (1 -10), you have an idea of the effort you will need to extend to make encouraging/inspiring others a habit. Next, make a list of 10-20 people you can encourage over the next four weeks. Your list can include yourself, family, friends, colleagues, community service people (police, fireman, postal, etc), teachers, our military, pastors, barista, neighbors, etc. The list of people you can encourage is endless. Next, calendar time each week when you will write encouragement messages (email, hand note, etc). Each week as you write your encouraging messages, do a self-check on encouraging others during the past week. Reflect on how you are feeling about yourself and your efforts to encourage others. How have you changed? What benefits are you reaping (intrinsically and extrinsically)? Expand your list to include others you will encourage beyond your original 10-20.
A final step would be to involve your family. Make encouraging others an individual and family activity. If you are a leader in your place of work, integrate "project encouragement" with your team. You will be astounded by how this impacts you, your family, your staff, and those you encourage.
"Encouragement is oxygen to the soul."
-George M. Adams
Every time you encourage another person, you are giving them a gift... oxygen to their soul. Imagine the world if everyone wrote or spoke words of encouragement to others, regularly. Don't wait for someone else to start changing the world. Be the change... lead the change... light the fire within others through your WORDS of encouragement.