Encourage Yourself!

by jai cross, 12/10/12

I want to direct your attention to one of my favorite words -- “encourage.” Take a moment to close your eyes and to experience the feelings that this word generates internally as you repeat it silently to yourself. Now try the same thing with the word “support.” Are the sensations produced by these terms similar or do you feel a significant difference? To my mind, support implies some sorely needed assistance, as if supporting a structure in danger of collapse or holding someone up who might otherwise fall down. The Oxford Dictionaries defines support as to “bear all or part of the weight of; hold up.” So when you support someone, you risk becoming a crutch, which could lead to dependence or, more likely, co-dependence.

On the other hand, encourage means “to inspire with courage, spirit, or hope” according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Courage is based on the Latin word “cor,” which translates as “heart,” which continues to be a common metaphor for strength. It is this heart aspect that I clearly feel when I hear the term encourage. The “en-”prefix in encourage simply means “to cause to be in;” so when we encourage someone, we cause that person to be inspired with courage, spirit, or hope.

Another way of translating encourage is to say that we hearten another person or we cause them to have more heart, to find their own heart. So much of society’s mindset is based around fear that most of us encounter the word “dishearten” much more often than “hearten.” A culture founded in mutual love would undoubtedly have more stories of people shining rather than slumping.

My suggestion to you is that in the next week, seek out opportunities to include the term hearten in your vocabulary and to practice encouraging yourself and your fellows to be the best and the brightest. My encouragement to you is to turn up your inner Light a bit more!

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