“The little reed, bending to the force of the wind, soon stood upright again when the storm had passed over.”– Aesop
There were few readers of classic literature and fiction in my family, so there was little encouragement to explore the genre at home. High school English and literature teachers did manage to spark my interest. While the classics are rarely part of my current reading habits, I’m somewhat aware of the major works. I’m thankful for the teachers who nudged their students towards those antique works. The classics I’ve explored have helped to expand the mind.
Perhaps one of the best gifts we can give one another is encouragement. Knowing that someone else cares, even a little bit, makes a lot of difference between giving up and continuing along one’s path. Just the act of asking relevant questions about someone else’s plan can inspire her or his enthusiasm. Switching someone’s discouragement with encouragement can be all that is needed to help that person regain motivation and get unstuck from inertia. Knowing that someone is interested in your meaningful idea is more helpful than getting some advise about taking next steps.
At the very least, encouragement helps open the mind to unexplored aspects of life–as the teachers did for me regarding classic literature. Getting and giving encouragement was rewarding for the teachers, knowing that at least a few of the students were awakened to the world of beautiful and wise words from the ancient writers. This is an example of how giving encouragement to others fosters self-encouragement.
“He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.”–Friedrich Nietzsche
There are times when we feel discouraged and there is nobody nearby to encourage us. When that happens, taking a break from overthinking and self-criticism is in order. Letting go of urgency for awhile by stepping outdoors for a walk or just to take in one’s surroundings can help us shift to a brighter attitude. We can also find inspiration and encouragement from pondering quotations like the one from Nietzsche. Some people utilize spiritual wisdom or some form of meditation.
Tapping into such activities can be a jump-start to getting the mind back in gear towards positive action. Refreshing the mind with inspiration is a form of self-encouragement. These types of internal encouragement are deeper and longer lasting. You might say that such motivation comes from the heart.
Do you remember that the root word of discouragement and encouragement is courage? We know that courage is doing even though we feel fearful. Discouragement is submitting to fear and encouragement is feeling the fear and going ahead anyway. Some of the most meaningful events of our lives take place when we decide to go ahead despite our fears while still taking wise precautions into consideration. There are times when we must embrace uncertainty and take our chances.
This phrase from Don, a long ago passed mentor and coworker, comes to mind during times of personal trouble: “Courage Hoss!” Oftentimes, this is the jolt I need to regain momentum.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes 20th century boxing trainer, Angelo Dundee. “Criticism is okay, encouragement is better!”