“You can do it!”

“Keep going, don’t give up!”

“Great job!”

Imagine how amazing it would be to have a friend follow you around all day, shouting these words of encouragement whenever you need them. Whenever you’re feeling stressed or upset, there’s your friend to lift you up through the power of positive words. Whenever you’re ready to give up on your homework or quit your job, your friend is there to tell you how capable you are of succeeding. The moment you get distracted or feel lost, there’s your friend to get you back on track by reminding you of your goal. Sadly, we don’t have anyone that has the time to just follow us around all day. But that doesn’t mean those moments of encouragement don’t exist. In fact, moments of encouragement surround us, so long as we allow them and look for them. Sometimes that encouragement is as obvious as those phrases listed above.  Oftentimes, however, that encouragement is much more subtle and discreet. September 12th is National Encouragement Day, so let’s talk about the power and importance of encouragement and the impact it can have on our lives.

We’re all Struggling
Everyone gets discouraged. It’s just human nature. We all have those days where absolutely nothing seems to be going well and nothing we do seems to work. The mistakes we make are magnified and blown out of proportion. We just want to give up. In those instances it can be easy to convince ourselves that we’re just not good enough or that we’re the only one that’s struggling. But guess what? Everyone is struggling. Every person we encounter has their own baggage, their own obstacles, and their own personal afflictions or temptations. It’s important to remind ourselves that we’re not the only one fighting personal battles in our lives. Once we understand that we’re not the only person struggling it will become clear that we’re not as alone as we thought.

The Power of Words
Think about a time in your life where you were struggling. Was it painful? Was it overwhelming? Did you feel alone or lost? Now think of a time where you were trying to accomplish a goal. Did you feel like giving up? Did you doubt yourself or your abilities? After reflecting on those times in your life ask yourself about the people that helped you the most. How did they help you? What type of support did they offer? Chances are they encouraged you through the use of positive, uplifting words. It could have been something as simple as “I’m here with you.” Words of encouragement don’t need to be the motivational, “pump you up” type of speeches you hear in a football locker room at halftime. Sometimes the simplest words of encouragement make the most impact. Has a simple hello ever lifted your spirits or brightened your day? Has a coworker given you a compliment on a day where you just didn’t feel good enough? Those are just a couple examples of instances where subtle expressions of encouragement and support can help someone feel immensely valued.

Do you ever stop to think about just how impactful words can be? Sometimes it’s not just the words themselves but the intent behind them. Sharing words of encouragement is very intentional and personal. Whenever you offer encouragement to someone you are reminding them that they are not alone. When you say things like “Good luck” or “Keep trying” you are really saying, “I want YOU to succeed. I’m rooting for YOU. I’m here for YOU.”

A Very Special Gift
We all possess one very special gift – the power to be the encourager. Everyone has the ability to positively change somebody’s day – maybe even their life – by simply offering kind words of support and encouragement. If you see somebody struggling or hurting, try and place yourself in their shoes. Think about the times you’ve felt alone. Think about the times you didn’t feel like you were enough. Then remind yourself of the encouragement you received and how much that helped. YOU can be the one that helps this person rediscover their own self worth. That’s a pretty incredible feeling. Go through each day thinking about the fact that the power of your words can be just what is needed to help  someone achieve their goal or feel accomplished.

Let’s celebrate!
So, how can we commemorate National Encouragement Day? Here are a few steps you can follow to have a successful National Encouragement Day.

Step 1.
Be more aware. Keep in mind that everyone is struggling with something. Be on the lookout for signs that somebody is dealing with something difficult. Maybe they seem less talkative than usual or perhaps they look physically frustrated or stressed. Open your eyes to the world around you and look for opportunities to be the encourager.

Step 2. Be intentional. If you do recognize somebody struggling, don’t be afraid to act. You may not feel like your words of encouragement are enough to make a difference. If everyone had that mindset, though, then nobody would ever help anyone. So be willing to be the person to offer those words of support. And remember, through your encouragement you are reminding that person that they are enough and that they are valued.

Step 3
. Be encouraged. That sounds pretty simple, right? Unfortunately it can be difficult to accept words of encouragement. We may assume the other person is just saying those words or that they don’t genuinely mean it. We may still be operating under the impression that we’re not enough and those words of encouragement are empty words. But again, remember that those words of encouragement are outward signs of love, support, and acceptance. Allow yourself to receive those words and let them serve as motivation and inspiration to keep on moving forward.

Step 4. Don’t stop. National Encouragement Day is a great way to remind ourselves of the importance of positive words and supportive acts of kindness. But don’t let it stop there. Encouragement is a powerful tool that should be utilized every day. Seek out opportunities in your daily life to lift up those around you. Remind yourself of the wonderful gift you have to be the encourager and positively impact someone’s life. And don’t forget to allow yourself to be encouraged. Think of all those times words of encouragement impacted you. Make an effort each day to feel that encouragement in your life and in turn share it with those around you. This can be a difficult task, but just remember…YOU CAN DO IT!