The Treasure of Encouragement
“Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the single candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.”~ The Buddha
Encouragement is commonly understood within the context of lifting up another who is down and out. But for me, the hallmark of encouragement is the wholehearted support and celebration of another person’s finest and happiest moments.
It is generosity, magnanimity and big-heartedness at the highest.
It is one of the most beautiful gifts in life, more sustaining than any extravagant present - to know that someone is selfless enough to have our best interests at heart.
Encouragement has the power to release one to fulfill one’s destiny. To encourage is to protect and confer honour to another. It replenishes. It soothes. It uplifts. It imparts life. It can be likened to the sweet nectar of the soul. Rain on a parched desert.
We are saved in moments like these. We are found in moments like these.
Encouragement replaces estrangement with love. It changes wariness into trust. Doubt into affirmation. Vulnerability into safety. It is to see a budding gift in someone else and water it. It is to see a flickering flame in another’s dream and fan it. It is to build up. Not tear down. To support. Not sabotage.
The essence of encouragement is the recognition of the sacred within another soul.
Our current culture of competition and comparison chokes up the ability to genuinely share in the happiness of another. For to encourage is an act of selflessness. In its place we have substituted it with an array of cheap superficialities, flattery and clichés.
Instead of rejoicing when others do well, we dampen their moment with a hollow response. Or simmer in grudging silence at a success story that doesn’t bear our name.
Maybe that is why it is just so much easier to celebrate mediocrity instead of excellence. It doesn’t demand anything of us.
It might seem like such a small thing when we inwardly turn away from seeing how well somebody else is doing. When we silently scoff and pull them down in our minds. When we secretly hope that others would bungle up.
But it is interesting to note that these little envies and petty jealousies unknown perhaps to anyone but our deepest selves actually harms us the most. What we hope we are depriving others of, we actually end up depriving ourselves.
“At the same time those who show forth envies, jealousies, etc…are depriving themselves of their own stations, and not another of his, for they prove by their own acts that they are not only unworthy of being called to any station awaiting them, but also prove that they cannot withstand the very first test – that of rejoicing over the success of their neighbour, at which God rejoices.
Only by such a sincere joy can the gift of God descend into a pure heart.” ~ ‘Abdu’l-Bahá
This is the Golden Rule. Karma. The Law of Attraction. The Secret. Whatever we may choose to call it, I believe we are engaging in a timeless Universal Principle to do unto others as we would have them do unto us.
We start to live on a completely different plane when we no longer see praise and success as something to be hoarded or divided. When we are able to correct the flawed thinking that if we praise another, we are somehow giving away what should have been essentially ours.
I truly believe great things happen when we decide to stretch ourselves to give above and beyond to another.
In that moment of self-transcendence, we start to operate on a completely new plane of living. And the selflessness and purity of our intentions work as a magnet to draw greater things into our lives. A kindly tongue is a lodestone to the hearts of men. Encouragement is the magnet that draws others to our lives.
To encourage is not merely a social nicety which we engage in. Apart from the fact that we rise above ourselves in the simple act of rejoicing with another, a more powerful reason to be a well-wisher is that encouragement when practised in its truest and highest sense is the cornerstone of the peace and unity of mankind.
“True peace and tranquility will only be realised when every soul will become the well-wisher of all mankind.” ~ Baha’u’llah
How absolutely radical to view this humble deed as the foundation of true peace in the world! For how can we even start to talk of world peace if we cannot first bring ourselves to share in the joy of celebrating the wonderfulness of one another?
A well-wisher is one who extends good wishes to his fellowmen. It is to wish for the greatest well-being and glory of another. It is to be a source of support and strength for someone else. Imagine the power of such a task if we take it upon ourselves in all sincerity!
What would our workplaces be like if we gave credit where credit is due? To be constantly on the lookout for the best traits in others. To train our eyes to focus on the good in a person. Just think how encouragement would impact our relationships. Our marriage. Our communities. It would be the height of civilisation.
Imagine just one act of encouragement from a heart that burns with loving-kindness. What this might ignite. What it might release. What it might do to you today.
Encouragement is not merely a word. It is a power.