Encouragement — we all need a little, but seem to forget how to give it.
It starts as early as congratulating a baby for burping, and is almost universally granted to toddlers for every new activity they pursue. We say “good job!” or “well done” and we’re all smiles.
Too soon we stop.
As we grow older, encouragement seems to get little attention in societies’ responses. Teachers and parents alike focus on the negative — without even meaning to, we notice what’s been done “wrong.”
And too often we turn to correcting as opposed to inspiring.
It’s a shame, really. In fact, it’s counterproductive. Here’s an easy example to show my point: I’m not asking for a pat on the back every time I write a column, but when someone does tell me they think it’s great that I write three columns a week, it makes me feel good about myself. In fact, it buoys me to carry on even in the face of overwhelming exhaustion (some of the more frequent readers will know I have a newborn at home).
Cheering someone on in life is like adding the sweet creamy filling to an already delicious chocolate cake — it’s not necessary, but it’s a welcome added extra.
Think about all the people who live in our big cities across Canada. So many have come from other cultures, some from serious oppression, poor quality of life, even daily fears of violence. To live in our peaceful country is a blessing, and to be able to speak your mind, to be part of the workforce, to get an education — all things many of us take for granted — although they’re wonderful privileges, people still need encouragement to keep at it in their efforts to make a new life here.
And many of us, busy in our hectic, urban, multi-tasking lives, also need encouragement to remember the simple civilities that can brighten a day, like saying a pleasant good morning to a fellow walker you pass on the street, or smiling and waving thanks to another driver on the road who’s let you into the lane.
I don’t expect you to run out and start championing everyone you know in everything they do. But if we add a little boost to our daily routine, we can make a difference in someone else’s day.
Here’s what I mean: instead of simply thanking your local barrista for your morning cup of java, saying something like, “Wow! Great coffee!” may give that person a little more confidence in their perhaps otherwise mundane job.
We all manage our lives, doing the best we can, both out of desire and necessity. But if every once in a while someone gave us encouragement, told us we were doing a great job, it would help make it all seem just that little bit more worthwhile.