Encouragement is the oxygen of the soul

Sep 19, 2020

Encouragement is the oxygen of the soul” – John Maxwell

Our mentor and friend, John Maxwell, recently said, “Encouragement is the oxygen of the soul.”  This affirms that like our physical body needs oxygen to survive, our soul needs encouragement to thrive.  Ask anyone if they need encouragement, and they will reply “Yes.”  You need encouragement.  I need encouragement.  We all need encouragement.  So why is encouragement so important to us?

Encouragement empowers us to keep trying until we succeed.  Imagine a baby trying to walk – as she takes one or two steps and falls down, her parents clap and cheer.  She looks up beaming and tries again.  Every time she tries the parents cheer. You know the rest - two steps become three, then four and soon the parents are proudly posting progress videos all over Facebook.

In his book “Slight Edge”, Jeff Olson says we grow up hearing the word “no” about eight times more “yes.”  As a result, our brain is wired for rejection.  Whenever we encounter a difficult situation, such as a rejection of job offer, a disagreement with our boss, or a fight with our loved one, we tend to think of the worst scenarios right away.  Thoughts like “no company would hire me”, “my boss and I would never see eye to eye on anything”, or “my spouse and I would always fight over things,” afflict us.  We begin to get discouraged and give up. 

But frequent doses of encouragement give us hope, energize us, and help us see things with an abundant mindset.  As we are encouraged, we are empowered to overcome obstacles and challenges. In fact, we become overcomers.

Since encouragement is so important, what can we do?

Do two things every day.

Smile.  Scientists have proven that when you smile, all the natural “happy” chemicals, dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin, are instantly released into your body.  The Buddhist monk and Nobel Prize nominee, Thich Nhat Hanh, said “Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.”  When you smile, you feel happier. 

Encourage others. A smile is also a powerful encouraging gesture to others.  When you see others on the street, you never know what they are going through.  When you see someone without a smile give them yours and see what happens. They usually give it right back. Be intentional and speak a word of encouragement to people. This could be your spouse – thank him for picking up the kids so you can spend a few extra minutes at the gym, thank your wife for cooking dinner so you can enjoy a nice meal at home, or thank a co-worker for making a point during a meeting.  As you intentionally look for ways to express gratitude toward others, you instantly feel better.  It is almost impossible to feel discouraged when we look for ways to encourage others.

Encouragement is important to us.  It energizes us to overcome challenges in life.

These two things are difference makers. Smile encouragement, speak encouragement.

Make them habits and see the benefits in your life and those around you. It’s like oxygen…

Thanh Nguyen & Mark Hemingway from The Encourage Team

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