Author: Byron Pulsifer, ©2016
What does it mean to lead an encouraging life?
It may be simply stated that an encouraging life is one that is filled with robust enthusiasm that's injected into each person encountered no matter the time, the place or the circumstance.
If this definition is to have meaning and provide usefulness in another's life, however, it needs to be dissected revealing the integral parts or components.
The first part of an encouraging life is probably the biggest. It is the part that drives everything. This part is enthusiasm. So, what does enthusiasm mean? And, how is it displayed, and how is it acquired?
Meaning of Enthusiasm
Enthusiasm means that life is to be lived not bemoaned. Life is to be viewed as something positive rather than something negative. Life is a series of challenges where one is always solution oriented not problem focused. It also means that the common trait, the observable behavior is predominantly filled with a zest for life, a strong ability to make the best out of any situation, and one that continuously offers help to those who are in need rather than first focusing on their own wants or desires.
E= empathethic. To identify with the thoughts and feelings of others.
N= nurturing. To support and encourage like one would do in the course of training someone; mentor
T= trustworthy. To complete what they said they would do; follows through on commitments.
H= happy. To celebrate both the highs and the lows as opportunities for personal growth.
U= understanding. To accept where another person starts as only the beginning of their growth.
S= sustaining. To provide continuous encouragement despite setbacks.
I= indulgent. To give others the opportunity to fully express their feelings without judgement.
A= authentic. To be true to self; not being pretentious.
S= service oriented. To offer personal services in the aid of others.
M= motivating. To consistently encourage others to be the best they can be.
The second vital component of an encouraging person with enthusiasm is one who is able to spark the best in others, or to contribute to the positive viewpoint when confronted by any situation. These type of people realize that life is a series of ups and downs; they realize that each person has their own issues to deal with; that each person can change how they behave and react if they choose to do so; and that each person needs words of encouragement, help or assistance of some kind or another no matter who they are.
Let's say that you have a few hours to spare on the occasional weekday morning. Now, you have a choice. Do you engage in an activity that is advantageous to you whether that be working in the backyard tending to your favourite plants, or engaging in a hobby, or simply taking it easy around the house? Or, you could demonstrate your willingness to serve others in need by volunteering a few hours at a local foodbank.
These are people who have fallen on hard times for a variety of reasons. These are people who, just like the rest of us, could have lost a job and need help to feed their family, or someone who is experiencing a health crisis, or a personal crisis that prevents them from maintaining a steady job.
Not only are you able to demonstrate service to others by serving at a foodbank, but you are also able to show empathy in appreciating the feelings of others who may feel inadequate, or who are experiencing a low self-esteem because they have had to rely on a foodbank.
Volunteering at a foodbank is also an opportunity to engage with clients in a number of ways. For example, it may be an opportunity to simply sit and quietly talk with a person allowing them to express their current issues in a non-judgmental environment; an opportunity to offer suggestions that can help, or encouragement not to give up in trying to find a job; or motivation to continue with a treatment program.
I know what you're thinking. I don't have the available time to volunteer at a foodbank or anyplace else right now. Well, that's okay. Volunteering is only one option to demonstrate enthusiasm. There are countless way that you can show enthusiasm. Let me talk for a minute about another way.
Let's assume right at the start that you have a job that you go to everyday. It doesn't matter what type of job it is. It could be a welder, a waitress, a retail store, an office, or a teacher. The point here is that where you work there are other people around you whether they are co-workers or clients.
In any of these working environments, you have a built in excuse to exhibit enthusiasm. How? Here are a few examples.
No matter who you are or what position you hold, there are situations that give you a chance to help. This help may be as simple as showing a co-worker how to accomplish a task that they find challenging. Maybe they are working along with you in a high volume job and become overloaded. And, just maybe you are in a position to help them handle the increased volume even for a few minutes so they can catch up.
This help may be extended to a relatively new employee who is struggling with meeting the demands of the position because they are not used to working to a much higher level of productivity than they had been used to, or they are not as familiar with the computer system, or with the products they are asked to source. Is this an element of enthusiasm. Sure it is.
By helping your co-worker, you are demonstrating empathy. That is, identifying with another person who is feeling overwhelmed. You are also showing that you are service oriented. Let me put it this way. You could have simply sat back and continued to do your own work ignoring the challenge that your co-worker was currently experiencing. You could have turned a blind eye by thinking that if you had to learn to cope on your own, why should you bother to help someone else. Let them learn on their own just like you did. But, you didn't, and, most likely, you never would.
At the same time, you moved beyond being empathetic to also being service oriented. On the one hand, you could have taken the position of offering encouraging words to your co-worker and that would have demonstrated an element of being enthusiastic. But, you went further. You helped; you pitched in knowing that your own work would have to wait for a few minutes.
The life lesson here is clear: being of service to others is not always convenient. Or, being of service to others doesn't always occur when it is convenient for you.
For those of you who have worked in the retail environment, you all well know that your work isn't only about selling, restocking, tidying up, or on the cash. I'm not saying that you may not help a co-worker as outlined previously. I'm sure you have and probably on more than one or two occasions.
What I am talking about, however, is those times that your work hasn't been inundated with customers. Obviously, these times are not at Christmas. But, there are times when a customer may approach you, or you may have simply asked if you could be of assistance. After a few moments of discussing a product or service, you find yourself listening to the beginning of a customer's story. It may be a story that unfolds slowly. It may be a situation where you have asked a probing question like, "What do you mean?"
Let's be truthful right now. I'm sure there are times when you do not feel like listening to a customer's tale that goes beyond a question or two about a product you have or a service you offer. Or, maybe you never put yourself in a position to engage a customer beyond the strict confines of a product or service believing that this is simply not your role, or job, or inclination. It may be a time to offer your ear, your willingness to indulge others who just need to talk, or an opportunity to offer words of concern, sympathy, or motivation to carry on despite worldly issues.
Let me be clear. There is no perfect time to show enthusiasm for the needs of others. Well, maybe there is if you happen to be a Doctor, psychiatrist or other health service professional where help is secured by appointment. I'm not talking about those situations.
Enthusiasm for life, an encouraging spirit, a heartfelt concern for the concerns of others, a way to show that someone cares is all part and parcel of a life dedicated to warmth and passion.
You have it in you. Don't keep your zest for life inside; let it out in the service to others in need no matter when or where or to whom.
Inspirational Quotes for Reflection:
"Encouragement doesn't cost anything, but it means something. It's one of the greatest gifts we can give."
Dr. L. D. Buckingham
"I like making a difference and helping others directly and indirectly.
I'm committed to inspiring others to live a life that aligns with who they
are and what they believe in.
Louise Reed, 5 Ways to a Simpler Life
"Motivated people are passionate! They love what they do and they are full of themselves (in the nicest possible way). Their enthusiasm and excitement are catching and they attract other people's interest and attention."
"Being inspired creates the energy, the enthusiasm, the commitment,
and the persistence people need to transform themselves and their
Claudio Feser, When Execution Isn't Enough: Decoding Inspirational Leadership
"Inspiration, from whatever the source, arouses feelings within us that rekindle hope, ambition, and determination.
It is a momentary whisper of encouragement and reassurance that causes us to become aware of our potential."
Jim Rohn, The Five Major Pieces to the Life Puzzle - used once for quote of the day
"We can all be more than we are. Life is a process of improving oneself."
G. Mark Phillips