I worked 10 hours recently helping a good friend edit his novel manuscript from rough to not-so-rough. There were times when he was down and frustrated. It was a great first draft, but when a writer is deep in the trenches it is hard to see the light.
After 10 hours, I was tired. It was hard work and it took my entire day and here is the thing:
I forgot about the power that comes from encouraging others.
It slipped my mind as it has thousands of times before. Why is this so hard to remember?
As the editing wore on, I thought about myself. I thought I was wasting my own creative energy. I dreaded sitting down in front of my screen the next day sure I would be exhausted and empty. Thinking only of me, myself, and I.
When I approached my manuscript the next morning, I was surprised to find that I was focused and energized. I accomplished more in one day than I could have hoped for.
How was that possible? By all rights, I should have been exhausted.
I should have known this might happen. It is not like I haven't experienced it before. Why is this phenomenon so easy to forget?
When you encourage someone you empower yourself and enrich your own life.
Do you use a To-Do List on a daily basis? I scribble out one every night and check off the tasks as I complete them the next day.
What I haven't done lately is remember to put someone's name on my list that could use a phone call, a text, an email encouraging them to transcend whatever challenges they are facing. So simple. And really, how much time does it take to touch base with someone?
I now make it a rule to add one name to my list every night and contact them the next day to offer encouragement. It takes less than ten minutes and it clarifies everything.
This is not a theory.
Psych News Daily reports: "A new meta-analysis in the journal Psychological Bulletin shows that helping others also improves your own health and happiness. It adds to the growing scientific literature showing that helping others also helps yourself, in more ways than you might expect." And further that "this study 'suggests a small and significant association between prosocial behavior and well-being.'"
Research is also clear that some people find interacting with others difficult and experience it as a drain on their energy. If you are one of those people, please let others know, in your own way and in your own time, how best to communicate with you.
Use ways of encouraging others that work for you.
There are times and situations when no matter what your personality type, you are not in a position to encourage someone else.
It is important to find ways to encourage others that do not weaken your own personal energy. Maybe a short text. Maybe an email. Keep it simple.
If someone is being challenged by a painful life event: maybe give them a drawing or a card. Words aren't everything all the time. A small honest gesture that says, I see you and believe in you and I care.
Use different ways to encourage others, experiment with different methods, and watch what happens.
That's it. That's all there is to it.
My life was saved by people telling me to hold on, keep asking for help, keep coming back to my support groups, and telling me not to pick up that first drink of alcohol or use a drug not prescribed to me one more day at a time. The people who told me this also told me that by helping me to stay on track they were helping themselves stay clean and sober.
Words of encouragement saved my life.
In these times we do not have to look too far to find others needing a little encouragement.
We can make the effort, and it does take effort, to contact them and try to lift them up. If we are honest and genuine and practical about our encouragement and truly intend to help, maybe they will feel it and thrive.
And incidentally, not to be selfish about it, but research confirms that encouraging others also improves our own life.
For more research on this, I attached a short video to the bottom of this post.
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