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Imagine it. You’re 100 yards from the finish line of the race, flagging badly. You don’t know if you can even make it to the end.
You’re Just. So. Tired.
You squint to look at the crowd of people up ahead and you see your dad waving to you. He cups his hands around his mouth and shouts. You can just barely make out his words.
“You can do it! I believe in you!”
Suddenly you feel invigorated! You can do this! You can reach the finish line of the race no problem! Your energy is renewed, and you muster the strength to put on a burst of speed.
You cross the finish line a few paces in front of the person behind you – who placed second.
What just happened?
Life does this really annoying thing where it kicks us when we’re down.
When we already feel like we’re losing to the shit show, life comes along and squirts lemon juice into the wounds.
It hurts, you know?
That’s when we need encouraging words.
Encouraging words are proof that someone cares about us, that someone believes in us, and that we’re good enough to do the things we’re trying to do.
Encouraging words give strength.
They renew us.
When your dad yells that he believes in you, you’re inspired to push through the pain and finish strong. His encouraging words helped you find the strength to win.
When your parents praise your hard work that resulted in straight A’s, you feel proud and accomplished and vindicated. Their encouraging words build you up and give you the confidence to keep working hard.
When people say nice things to us, we feel good. They stick with us. Sometimes the most amazing feelings come from strangers saying a nice thing about us.
Unfortunately, this is also true about negative things, but that’s for another time.
I vividly remember a bank teller reacting to the difference between my drivers’ license photo and me in real life. While I did nothing to initiate her response, she said the nicest things about my weight loss and asked for my secret.
I wonder now if she knew her words would make me feel better about myself not only in the moment but days and months later too.
Oftentimes, all we need to do is say something nice to someone else, and that can change that person’s day for the better.
Can you think of a time someone said something encouraging to you? Do you remember how great it felt to hear those words?
There’s actually science that shows when we say nice things – positive, encouraging things – to other people, we feel better too! So it’s not just the person receiving the encouragement who benefits – the giver does too.
What better reason do we need to be nice to people?
What better reason to take the time to smile and say thank you to our baristas, our waiters, our receptionists?
The power of encouraging words goes both ways.
Dale Carnegie, in his book “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” tells an anecdote of a time he stood in line at a bank, waiting for a teller. He thought to himself, “this fellow looks so downtrodden and irritable. What can I say to him to make him feel better?”
Of course, Carnegie had never met this teller before, but when he got to the front of the line he complimented the teller’s hair – and the teller immediately lit up at Carnegie’s words.
When Carnegie left, the teller had a smile on his face.
His demeanor had completely changed just from Carnegie saying something nice.
So, what are you going to do today?
Will you brighten someone’s outlook on life?
Will you empower yourself by saying something kind and encouraging to a fellow human being?