Today, Sept 12, is the National Day of Encouragement. If you don’t believe me, then I encourage you to go check it out on a calendar, Facebook, or the internet.
Mostly likely, you will have to go verify this holiday since there wasn’t much hoopla leading up to it. I am sure you did not see any Sunday newspaper ads proclaiming, “Come on in for our HUGE National Day of Encouragement Sales Event where you can save 50% off everything in stock!”
Nope, I think I missed that sale too.
So, if the mega retailers didn’t create this holiday to drive up sales, then who did?
A bunch of kids, that’s who!
In 2007, Harding University in Arkansas hosted a teen leadership retreat. The teens who attended pinpointed discouragement as a real problem for American youth. Instead of throwing their hands up in despair, they took action. They created a National Day of Encouragement to rally young and old from all walks of life and ethnicities. That eventually led to a fantastic documentary in 2010, “7 Days Across America:What’s Right With the American Teenager” narrated by celebrity Jeff Foxworthy. It featured teens from across the nation volunteering worldwide and in their local communities. The young people supported projects such as delivering clean water in developing countries, teaching seniors how to use computers and providing shoes for kids in Africa. There are now over 33 states which have recognized the National Day of Encouragement and there is even an official website: www.letsencourage.com
But we can’t all travel to Africa or start a community project. Here are 10 some simple and practical ways we can participate today and encourage those around us:
- Ask someone today how their week is going and really mean it. Take the time to listen to their answer and respond accordingly.
- Follow up on something they have shared before. Is their mom in the hospital? Find out how she is doing. People are genuinely surprised when we remember what they shared and take the time to follow up.
- Offer genuine praise, not empty flattery.
- Give them a gift card just because, not for a “special” reason.
- Send a card or note telling them you appreciate something they have done for you at work or home
- Be specific with offers to help. Instead of saying, “Let me know if I can help you in anyway,” try, “Can I photocopy those for you since you are under a tight deadline?”
- Bring Starbucks in to work and treat the staff
- Babysit their kids for free
- Pet sit when they go on vacation. Or pick up their mail and newspapers if they need it.
- Take time for a face-to-face conversation instead of a Facebook chat or text.
I am going to celebrate by taking a friend for coffee, having a good old-fashion sit-down conversation to find out what is going on in her life. Let me know how your Day of Encouragement goes!
Maria Cowell is a marketing professional at a private K-12 school in Los Angeles, and a former reporter and editor for newspapers in LA and Glendale. Follow her musings, meddlings and moments at http://hipmamamedia.com