Have you ever felt discouraged? Have you ever felt encouraged? Did either make you feel happy?
What does that even mean?
Discouragement, as defined by Google, is the loss of confidence or enthusiasm. Or hope.
Encouragement, defined by Merriam-Webster, is the act of making something more appealing or more likely to happen.
That makes me ask: what is courage? Courage is the root of the words discourage and encourage. Courage is the ability to do something that frightens you.
So now I ask, what frightens you? What frightens you so much that you would be too scared to do it? That’s dis-courage.
What is frightening to you that you have done anyway? That’s en-courage.
I think sometimes we use the word “discourage” to mean sad. I felt discouraged when the rain came. I felt discouraged when I didn’t win the contest. We have lost our hope, our enthusiasm, and we feel sad about it.
How can we be happy?
There’s so many discouraging things going on in our world, and it seems like it just gets worse. How can we have hope? How can we get our enthusiasm back, or maybe even just a little to start with? Some people always see the worst in everyone and everything. They have discouraged themselves, and that makes them spread discouragement everywhere they go. Why keep trying if its never going to get any better? If you let this continue, it can turn into depression.
Others see the best in everything, the eternal optimist, and they spread that joy and hope to others around them. They may fall and they may lose, but they get right back in there with a smile on their face, ready for the next challenge. They never seem depressed, even when they have every right to be.
Which of those people would you like to be? I consider myself to be a realistic optimist. I know there are bad things going on in the world that I myself am not able to change. But I know there is a lot of good going on in the world too. And maybe I can’t change the world for everyone, but I can change the world for myself. I can be the encourager. I can be the one to help change myself and my mindset so that I can see the good in people, and see the opportunities all around me. And then, once I have changed myself, I can start changing the world for others. I can be a better mother, I can be a better wife. I can sponsor a child from a third world country, or I can spend time with the kids in my neighborhood and give them some attention that maybe their parents don’t have time or energy to give. I can spend time with my elderly neighbors who maybe don’t get out much, or don’t have much company.
I can also spend my time learning new things or discovering new places. Sometimes it takes a little courage to get out of our recliner and take a hike up that new trail, or take the different route, or the road less traveled. Its takes courage to get out of our comfort zone and try something new. Fear, dis-courage, can keep you from trying new things or going to new places. Don’t be afraid. Have courage!!
There are so many opportunities to help others, to encourage them to be happier people. But you have to fill your heart with happiness in order to spread that happiness around. I believe that God fills me with hope and love and peace, and that is my happiness. Not everyone believes in God, and that’s up to each person to decide. But either way, when you stop focusing so much on yourself, you are able to focus on others. And by helping others, each of us can be an encourager. Each of us can give help and hope to others, and that is infectious.
Helping others is a sure way to feel happy. You don’t have to spend any money, but it will cost you some time. But time spent helping is much better spent than time spent wallowing in our sorrow and unhappiness. Again I tell you, don’t be afraid; have courage!!
Can you tell me about a time when you did something that really made you happy? Or a time when you were encouraged, or discouraged?