By: Savannah Lindell04/07/17

Why Encouragement Counts

My first year of college was a bit challenging. I was walking through a lonely season due to an unexpected, but needed, transfer to another dorm room during my second semester. Because of this, my friend group drastically changed. One night I remember feeling very alone and discouraged as I knelt beside my bed. I asked God to, “please send someone to encourage me,” to remind me I was not on my own.

Within a couple of hours, that simple prayer was answered. To my amazement, a piece of paper appeared from under my door. Curious as to what it was, I opened it immediately. The words written were exactly what I needed to hear. Words of hope. Words that reminded me I was not alone. Words that gave me the strength to face another day. Words of encouragement.

We all battle moments of self-doubt, insecurity, and discouragement; moments where we can feel like giving up rather than going on. And most often, all a person needs is a little encouragement to continue.
The definition of the word “encourage” is
“To inspire with courage, spirit, or hope.”

When we encourage someone, we are imparting courage to them.

Over the years psychologists have studied words and found that they have a profound effect on the human brain. The truth is, words have power. Words can either breath life or death into the soul, build up someone’s spirit or tear it down. They either encourage or discourage – there is no middle ground.
Research has proven that brain function is at its best and quality of life is at its peak when we are processing positive rather than negative words.

Words either encourage or discourage – there is no middle ground.

In their article, The Most Dangerous Word in the World, researchers Andrew Newberg, M.D. and Mark Waldman state the following:

“If I were to put you into an fMRI scanner – a huge donut-shaped magnet that can take a video of the neural changes happening in your brain – and flash the word “NO” for less than one second, you’d see a sudden release of dozens of stress-producing hormones and neurotransmitters. These chemicals immediately interrupt the normal functioning of your brain, impairing logic, reason, language processing, and communication.”

Additional research done by Newberg and Waldman reveals,
Positive words, such as “peace” and “love” can alter the expression of genes, strengthening areas in our frontal lobes and promoting the brain’s cognitive functioning. They propel the motivational centers of the brain into action…”

Positive words are difficult to remember. Negative words are difficult to forget.

It’s interesting to note that the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC includes a display of several articles President Abraham Lincoln had with him on the night of his assassinated. One of the articles is a worn-out newspaper clipping which celebrated his accomplishments as president. It reads: “Abe Lincoln is one of the greatest statesmen of all time.”

It is amazing that even the president of the United States needed regular positive reinforcement in his life, if left unchallenged, negativity can permeate and overcome any of us.

If you’re living and breathing, you need encouragement!

The truth is that if you’re living and breathing, you need encouragement! No matter a person’s age, position or stature, as human beings, we are wired with the innate desire and need for encouragement.
An encouraging word spoken at the right time can make all the difference in a person life – just like it did for President Lincoln.

Proverbs 25:11(CEV) says:
“The right word at the right time is like precious gold set in silver.”

There are few things more valuable than an encouraging word.

The words spoken into your life today have a tremendous impact on your life tomorrow.

Frankly, it is very difficult for someone to achieve a goal without encouragement and support. Some of the greatest influencers have been those who have received support and strength from others.

Many have recalled the friendship between two of history’s great authors, C.S Lewis and J.R.R Tolkien. In fact, Tolkien was highly influenced by Lewis encouraging him to write The Lord of the Rings. The encouraging words of C.S. Lewis spurred Tolkien on toward what has become a literary masterpiece read by millions.

Encouragement is a gift that we all have the ability and resource to give.

Encouragement is a gift that we all have the ability and resource to give. There is no I.Q. requirement or special talent needed to be an encourager. All you have to do is have a desire to use your life and your words to encourage the people positioned around you.

Every day we come in contact with people who are craving encouragement. Those who are walking through their personal “dorm room” valleys. Although we may not always know what they are facing, our encouragement may be exactly what they need to make it through to the other side.

Encouragement is not natural; therefore it must be cultivated.

So, what are some ways we become carriers of courage -building up the hope of those around us?

1. Smile

Did you know that smiling is contagious? It might not just alter a person’s mood, but could change their life.

2. Speak Encouragement

There are millions of people on the planet who feel overlooked and forgotten. And with a simple hello and encouraging word, you can let someone know that they are seen and cared about.

3. Write it out

Spoken words are powerful, but there is something special about written words – they last forever. A simple card or text reminds someone that they are valuable and being thought of.

4. Compliment

Entering your day with the mindset of what can you give rather than what can you get.

Each of these things is very simple to do, yet they can have a profound impact on someone’s life. They could give them the courage to keep going, to pursue their dreams, to know they are not forgotten and that they have a purpose. Who comes to mind in your world that you can encourage? Is it your spouse, your child, your next door neighbor, your coworker?

One leader asked a simple question we should all consider, “If the people around you depend on your words for nourishment, are they dying of malnutrition or are they thriving?”

The truth is that our words matter. We make a choice each day how we will use our words to build up or tear down. Start today. Make a conscience choice that you are going to use your words to make a difference in someone’s life.