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Words Have Power

Encouragement doesn't just feel good, it can bring real change.

Source: Shutterstock/fizkes

Lots of moms celebrated National Daughter's Day this week with posts of beautiful girls and women and sweet sentiments of love and pride. But there was another holiday this month that you probably missed: September 12th was the National Day of Encouragement.

Following the emotions we feel on September 11th, it could not be better timed. It is a day dedicated to lifting the spirits of those around us using positive statements, compliments, affirmations, comfort, and appreciation. Encouraging someone means infusing the person with confidence and hope.

Anyone who watches sports knows that a crowd of effusive, cheering fans can create a home-court advantage that is difficult to overcome. Academic studies have shown that frequent, verbal support and clapping lead to significantly greater effort by athletes.

Of course, encouragement doesn’t require boisterous gesturing and shouting. Smiles, pats on the back, and private words of recognition and inspiration can be equally or more effective in certain circumstances.

We are all wired with a need and a desire for encouragement. Without it, we often falter, give up, become depressed, and feel invisible. For example, one recent study of teachers showed colleague support to be a significant factor in preventing burnout.

The boost we get from encouragement can come in a number of forms. Sometimes another person’s belief in our ability to achieve a goal can create a sense of confidence we might otherwise lack. Someone urging us to stay the course can renew our motivation, inspiration, and determination. Another person’s focus on the positive attributes of our endeavor and growth can transform our perspective and erase any frustrations or negativity we are feeling.

And support and encouragement can have actual physical impacts. Positive words can alter the expression of genes, as well as strengthen areas of our cognitive brain functioning. For cancer patients, support can not only increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy and reduce pain but also dramatically increase the chances of survival.

With power like that, every day should be a national day of encouragement. We should all make a habit of intentionally practicing praise, recognizing accomplishments, urging determination, sharing affirmations, comforting, appreciating, and expressing gratitude.

Imagine the impact if we all became dedicated ambassadors of confidence and hope, not just on one day in September, but every day.