Yesterday I went for a long walk, not out of a need to think or a desire for exercise but because there was somewhere I had to be and there was no other way to get there. Trips like this are always good times for reflection and an opportunity to come up with new ideas. They are also always longer then I expect them to be. About ¾ of the way through my trek I was worn out and tired in the middle of nowhere. I just wanted to sit down and quit.
At about this point I get a text from the friend I was walking to meet. "Tasty beverage?" Just that little encouragement put the spring back in my step, well maybe not the spring but it was enough to squeeze a few more miles out of me.
The shift in attitude that some outside encouragement can bring is incredible. The problem is when the encouragement is asked for it is nowhere near as effective, even worse is when we are fishing for encouragement and we don't get it.
To make encouragement part of our lives we have to do a few things. We have to have people in our lives that tend to build us up rather then tear us down, and if they do tear us down it is only as part of a remodeling project. We need to be encouraging to others, and we need to do things that are worthy of encouragement.
Surround yourself with encouragers: Some people have the gift to inspire and encourage and these are the kind of people we need in our lives. Then there are those who only have the ability to point out the things we are doing wrong. While we need to be told when we are behaving badly or hurting others this cannot be all we hear. If the only people we have in our lives are the latter we need to find some of the former.
Create a culture of encouragement: As it is important for us to be encouraged it is important for us to be encouraging. If we are looking for the rewards of honest and sincere encouragement we have to give it. As those around us are reminded of the power of encouragement they are more likely to reciprocate. Also if we are encouragers we are more likely to attract other encouragers in to our lives.
Do something that deserves encouragement: We should not be looking for encouragement for every little task or chore we do. "Yay, good job you can do it! Keep breathing," or "Good job going to sleep last night." These are not the sort of things we need to hear. So if we want to be encouraged we need to do the big things, make the big changes, go for the long walks and put on the big events.