At the Smithsonian Institute, they have on display the personal effects that Abraham Lincoln was carrying on the night he was shot. In one of his pockets they found a worn-out newspaper clipping praising his accomplishments as President.
Why would one of the greatest Presidents in the history of the U.S. carry around such an article? Lincoln led the nation during one of the most divisive times in U.S. history and was often criticized by the press as well as both political parties for the many decisions he had to make. It can be theorized that when often facing criticisms and the hard situations that was his life as President, this article was something he pulled out to read to encourage himself.
Did you know that encouragement can not only have an impact on us emotionally, but mentally and physically as well? An experiment was done to measure people’s capacity to endure pain. In this experiment a barefooted person stood in a bucket of ice water. It was documented that when there was someone offering encouragement and support the participant was able to tolerate the pain twice as long as when no one else was present.
We all need to be encouraged through hard times. Life is hard and we face struggles each and every day. One of the responsibilities we have as friends, family, and colleagues is to encourage one another. It is part of living in community. The definition of the word encouragement is “to place courage in someone,” and when life is hard that is exactly what we need – the courage to face a tough situation, to get the work done, to make a hard decision. What an awesome privilege we have to give some one “courage” to face the challenges of the day, week, or month.
I have read that it is good idea to make gratitude a habit. I fully agree with that but put forth the idea that we should also make encouragement a habit. I would like to challenge the readers of this blog to develop the habit of encouraging at least one person within their sphere of influence each week. It can be a simple note or email but take the time to find someone and encourage them. If you are an administrator develop this habit for yourself but also promote it within your staff by providing “encouragement” cards in the staff work room that anyone can use to write a quick and simple note of encouragement to a colleague.
So start today and make it a habit.