I’m convinced that encouragement is one of the most life-giving gifts we can offer another human being.
You never know the silent battles another person is fighting. People experiencing grief still have to put gas in their cars. Stressed out people still have to take their kids to practice. Lonely people still have to go to work. There are discouraged people amongst us. You walk past them in the aisles of the grocery store and maybe even receive care from them in a doctor’s office. You have no way of fully knowing how hungry people are for the gift of encouragement, which means you have a real opportunity.
You are can proactively and eagerly encourage others, not knowing the full impact it will have, but with certainty you will leave them better for it.
More than Kindness
I see a lot of graphics, t-shirts and mugs that tout the value of kindness. I’m here for it! Kindness does matter. I conceptualize kindness as being polite and thoughtful, which are both great things. However, I’m proposing that we take kindness to the next level.
If we really are eager to encourage, we need to move past courteous interactions into affirmations that are personal and therefore powerful. When I think of encouragement, I think of making a person feel simultaneously seen and special. I also consider encouragement to be an overtly intentional act, rather than moving through the motions.
Be an Affirmer
One way to encourage others is to make them feel seen! We all want to be acknowledged, validated, and recognized for who we are. This is different from wanting to be the center of attention or life of the party. It is also different from seeking trophies or metals on our shelf. It is about knowing that another person is taking time to understand who you are and what makes you tick. It can be a celebration of strengths and gifts or highlighting hard work. It is affirmation in action.
Making another person feel special is personalized kindness that highlights a wonderful aspect of who they are. It can be as simple as a nice compliment about their style or personality. It can go deeper into how they weathered hardship or parent their children. It’ll depend on the level of depth within your relationship and intimacy of the interaction but you can make even a complete stranger feel special with your words.
An example of this might be taking a moment to genuinely thank someone who works in shipping during the holiday season, “Wow, this time of year must be so challenging in your role! I can’t imagine how hard it must be. I hope you are still able to make some time to rest and enjoy.” Sharing an encouraging word costs you nothing and could be the boost the other person needs to endure a major challenge.
Random Acts of Encouragement
I love encouraging others in unexpected ways that leave them delighted! One of my favorite ways to do this is by writing a note. In a world where it is so easy to connect digitally, I find a handwritten and tangible message carries more weight. It can also be a visual reminder of your care because I have a feeling it will find a home on their desk or refrigerator.
I recently created and printed Encouragement Cards to use within my life and community. They have a quick and punchy phrase on the front and the back is a blank slate for encouragement (There are pictures of them throughout this post!).
My first note is going to be for the patient soul who drives my kids’ school bus – an unsung hero! I also intend to share these notes with the sound team at church – they ensure our services look and sound beautiful! I’ll also slip one in my kids’ lunchboxes – I love the idea of a big smile on their face when they unexpectedly stumble upon a note from me mid-day.
Little gifts or cards in the mail can be a powerful and uplifting interruption to someone’s day. Your thoughtfulness will propel them forward.
Do you remember that iconic scene from The Grinch when his heart instantly grows three sizes?* That can be you! The beauty of giving the gift of encouragement is that it will cause your heart to swell. Encouraging others has this curious quality of immediately encouraging YOU. As you see beyond your own needs and wants, and prioritize the other person, you will experience a come-back joy.
Encouraging others is one of my secret weapons on days that I am feeling down or in need of support. It would seem counterintuitive to give the gift I want, but there is power in that paradox.
Make it your mission to encourage another person today. Give them genuine feedback that shows them you see them and appreciate them – make it personal. Find a simple way to commit a random act of encouragement. Brace yourself for the immeasurably positive impact as you eagerly encourage others.
*If you’ve been around this blog for a while – or since last week – you will know The Grinch is my all time favorite Christmas movie. I’ve blogged about it two different times (Here and Here). And thought you should know, haha!