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Summary: We could all use a little boost every now and then. Some synonyms for “boost” are: improve, make better, advance. Sound refreshing? Sound invigorating?

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INTRODUCTION: We could all use a little more encouragement in our lives, don’t you think? We get run-down, we get disheartened. We wonder if what we’re doing really matters to anyone. We could all use a little boost every now and then. No, not the energy drink, although that might help too. But there are times when we could all use a helping hand or a pep talk. Some synonyms for “boost” are: improve, make better, advance. To give someone a boost means we are lifting them up; we are encouraging them. When we give someone a boost we are supporting them, inspiring them, motivating them. We are building them up when they are knocked down. Sound refreshing? Sound invigorating?

1) Why is encouragement so uncommon?

• Because people are jealous. I am certainly not going to encourage you when I’m jealous of your accomplishments. Also, because of my jealousy, when you fail at something I’m going to be happy. Therefore, not only will I not be encouraging, I will probably be kicking you when you’re down. In my mind you need to be taken down a peg or two. When I can tell that you’re feeling down my thoughts will be, “serves you right for thinking you’re all that.” When people are jealous, encouraging someone is probably the furthest thing from their minds.

• Because people are discouraged. One of the reasons people are discouraged is because they haven’t been encouraged very much throughout their lives. And because of this they have become pessimistic in nature. The glass is half-empty, they’re waiting for the rug to be pulled out from under them. “Things never work out for me”, “I’m such a loser”, “I hate my life; I hate myself”. It’s much harder to encourage someone else when this is my mode of thought. Why would I and how could I encourage someone else when I’m so discouraged? People who are discouraged are waiting for someone to encourage them. Therefore, one of the reasons why encouragement is so uncommon is there are too many people waiting to be encouraged and not enough people doing the encouraging.

• Because it’s easier to point out someone’s faults than their abilities. It’s easier for us to focus on what you’re doing wrong than what you’re doing right. Why? One reason is because of our unrealistic expectations. We think people should be at a certain level and when they don’t perform up to our standards we light into them. We put people on a pedestal and even put them in a perfection bubble. We see them as someone who can do no wrong but as soon as they do something wrong our bubble is burst and we attack them. That’s why we don’t point out their abilities-their abilities are not anything special to us because we’ve erroneously elevated them to an impossible status. Their faults, however, are something we feel they just shouldn’t have and we can’t understand what’s wrong with them that they would commit such foolishness. Another reason is because of our pride and ego. When I highlight your faults it can make me look better. I’m not going to encourage you, I’m going to gloat. I’m going to view your faults as a beneficial thing for me. Complimenting you would not make me look good. Highlighting your shortcomings, however, can put me in a better light. Another reason why we focus on faults more is because we view giving compliments as a negative thing. “Well, don’t start complimenting them or else they’ll start to expect a pat on the back every time they do something”. The Duke of Wellington, the British military leader who defeated Napoleon at Waterloo, was not an easy man to serve under. He was brilliant but also quite demanding and not one to shower his subordinates with compliments. Yet even Wellington realized that his methods left something to be desired. In his old age a young lady asked him what, if anything, he would do differently if he had his life to live over again. Wellington thought for a moment then replied, "I’d give more praise".

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