But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.
-Hebrews 3:13 NIV
It is simple, it is easy, and it is free, yet we so often fail to open up our mouths and genuinely encourage each other. One thing I have discovered is a universal truth is that we all need to be sincerely acknowledged and appreciated. Let's be honest; unless you wrap yourself and your family in bubble wrap and never leave your home you will encounter daily things that depress, discourage, and completely stress you out. The best way to counter this is to see and practice genuine kindness in order to remind yourself that there are many caring people left in the world. Imagine if your spouse and kids took everything you did for for granted. Imagine your boss constantly belittling your actions. Imagine your friends are always petty and condescending. It would be hard not to lapse into cynicism and despair pretty quickly.
So here is my challenge for those of you who are brave enough to try:
The Encouragement Experiment
1. Give honest and sincere praise to someone in your household.
Compliment the outfit your wife is wearing. Tell your husband how much you appreciate how hard he works. Let your child know that you think they are doing a great job at something.
2. Tell someone you know how much you admire a particular quality they have.
Think about why you are happy that your friends are your friends and then share that reason with them. Tell a coworker something about themselves you admire.
The key here is sincerity. If someone were to praise my singing voice or cooking skills then I would know they were either mentally imbalanced or about to hit me up for a loan.
3. Compliment a complete stranger.
OK, I know that some of you are shy and this may feel awkward, but just take a leap of faith. Think of times someone in the grocery store complimented your new haircut or while pumping gas admired your car. It made your day, didn't it? We all see people as we go through the motions of our day and think about how we like something about them. Next time this happens just open your mouth and say it. I promise people won't think you are weird. They will just feel happy to be flattered.
4. An Encouragement Explosion
Post the following on Facebook:
"Like my status and I will tell you one thing I admire or appreciate about you." (Then write a short post on their wall.)
I have done this before and believe me you will be surprised how many people hit the "Like" button. You can tell by the responses you get that this genuinely makes people feel valued.
So who is up for the challenge? I would love to read your comments on what you think of this experiment. If you put all four steps into practice (or even just one) what were the results?
I can't wait to hear all about it!