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  • Writer's pictureJim Donaher


Every one of us is going through 'something.' It's sometimes said that no one else's problems are bigger than your own, and there is some truth to that. Your own problems are in your face, annoying and delaying you all the time. It can be hard to see anyone else's troubles when yours are screaming, 'look at me!'

The world moves very fast, and with so much going on, it's easy to forget that other people are hurting in a variety of ways, large and small, obvious and invisible. Some of the people you meet are right on the brink between hope and despair, teetering.

Our society rewards stoic, 'stiff upper lip' attitudes, where we chant reflexively, 'no, no, really, I'm good, thanks.' We know people aren't being open with their struggles because to do so creates what many perceive as a burden.

We ask how people are doing, wanting the answer to be 'good, thanks' so we can move on with whatever is next.

It's this tendency that we have to break in order to help others. We cannot assume that our family, friends or colleagues are 'fine' just because they say they are. Depending on the relationship, it may or may not be your 'business' to ask. So what do you do?

Our best step is to encourage. How? Find something good and compliment it. For example,

'I really like the way you run meetings. You keep to the agenda, you allow for discussion and you get to everything in the allotted time.'

Chances are good that no one has said that to them. As long as you are sincere, they will feel great.

Another example,

'I appreciate that you take the initiative in getting us all together around the holidays. If you didn't do it, I don't know who would.'


'No matter what you're going through, you always stay upbeat. I don't know how you do it.'

As long as you are sincere and not 'blowing smoke,' these are all helpfully encouraging. You don't have to guess exactly what someone is going through or what their pain is. And you don't have to ask or pry unless you feel confident that they will respond well to it.

The point is you took the time to say something positive, affirming and appreciative. This can be like water in the desert for someone going through troubles.

Another way to encourage someone is to simply listen to them. Many of us put ourselves in boxes that limit who we can talk to about what. Inside that box is pretty lonely. If someone takes the time - whether they're involved in your life or not - to ask you how you are, and honestly listen to the answer, they can lift a huge burden, even if only for a while. It's so encouraging to know someone cares.

Whatever your specific strategy, the 'ask' here is simple: Make encouragement of others a habit.

Set a goal of finding one person every day and sincerely praise them. Find another person and actively listen to them. Making it a habit makes you get outside of yourself and your own problems and brings some light into the darkness others may be facing.

Making this habit will multiply the good you do exponentially.

Then you can say to YOURSELF, honestly and sincerely 'I really like the way you encourage other people. There is not enough of that in the world.'

Thank you so much for reading. Please share this article with anyone you like.

Visit Jim Donaher, Author on Facebook and follow @Luthah34 on Twitter.

God bless you.

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