How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.
— Anne Frank
A Chapter In My Story
I grew up in a family with generational beliefs that placed value on harsh words — as tools to be wielded to mold children towards their full potential. Criticism was meant to correct, to stiffen the spine, and make one impervious to the hardships that life will bring.
Not all people are able to thrive in such an environment though. Some may grow to have more drive to succeed, to prove their worth by achieving those goals set out for them so early in life. However, there are others who are wildflowers and bloom as they may — under the warmth of the sun, with the nourishment of gentle rain, and the support of the welcoming earth.
It is fortunate then, that I’ve found my way to people who’ve now given me the space and time to grow more into myself. Ever since I’ve begun to know them better, their words and gestures continue to uplift and nurture me. And all of this started from a simple fountain pen meet.
It’s All In The Word
Encouragement (en-couragement) — at its core — is all about empowerment. It’s about the giving and receiving of upliftment and motivation, especially helpful during those times when we are faced with individual challenges or are weighed down by personal struggles.
Individual, personal — these are key words to consider, as part of being encouraging is tuning in to what each one of us needs to feel better, to feel supported. Encouragement goes beyond inexact praise or offhand directives. The giver is fueled by empathy — to focus on the recipient and to seek the most meaningful way that they can be heartened. On their part, the receiver is willing to go beyond their own self-limiting perceptions and be open to possibilities.
The Gentle Power
What lies beneath the surface of seemingly simple, heartfelt words and non-verbal cues of caring? Encouragement — in spite of it being a deceptively ordinary, costless thing to offer to someone else — creates a ripple effect that echoes through time and affects everything concerning it.
Apart from staying alive and satisfying basic physical needs, human nature motivates us to be understood, to be validated, and to be appreciated. This is why encouragement is such a vital thing to give to our loved ones. It helps them harness their innate strengths and become better versions of themselves. As a society, we collectively seek to connect and foster a sense of community through mutual support. In this sense, encouragement becomes a way to inspire groups of people towards a unified goal.
The Ripples and Echoes
Encouragement affects us in various ways. Tied to how we uniquely express and resonate with the myriad ways of caring and loving, these are the benefits for both receiver and giver ⁓
When faced with life’s challenges that come one after another, the effort of overcoming these eventually takes its toll. At times we succeed, other times we fail. During these moments when we are lost or stonewalled, a fresh or different perspective can help us find our way back and through. Opening ourselves up to or providing such gets us going once again.
We have the tendency to become our greatest critics. Sometimes, all it takes is for someone else to understand our struggle and recognize our own abilities to overcome the challenge that keeps us locked in. It’s a powerful boost, to be seen as having the ability to succeed.
The power of encouragement doesn’t rely solely on its positivity. Feedback through solicited advice provides added strength to its effect on the receiver. This is where the skilled encourager shines, by helping others discover new solutions for going the best way forward.
This is the end goal for both receiver and giver. One accomplishes what they have set out to do, and the other likewise flourishes by having provided support when needed.
Encouragement echoes and reverberates through connections. When a person is bolstered by another and is able to accomplish their goals, the essence of shared experiences comes into play. As an individual succeeds, there is that motivation to help someone else. So the beneficial cycle is spread and perpetuated.
A Common Thread In Our Story
Our community thrives through connecting threads of encouragement. I was once a newbie who was encouraged by others to try the fountain pen as a creative tool. I was hesitant at first, thinking that my developing skills were not enough to warrant sharing them. Members of my local group were helpful enough to reach out and offer their encouragement, as well as their own techniques. It was their kindness that gave me the confidence to find my own style, and their continued feedback helped me get to where I am now. Since then, I have passed on this inspiration and have motivated others to find their own creative voice.
On a more personal note — during the pandemic when isolation was the norm, my friends in the fountain pen community and I would brighten each other’s day by sending care packages to one another. Each mindful gift was made more meaningful by sending an encouraging handwritten note using their fountain pen of choice. Even the ink used reflected the personality of the sender. Those moments remain in my memory as times when I was made joyful and thankful for those who understood me the most.
Celebrate This Day
This September 12th is the National Day of Encouragement. Even though we don’t need a specific date to motivate us to uplift someone else’s spirits, it’s stimulating to have a day dedicated to inspiring others.
So I enjoin you to take up that fountain pen and write a caring letter for that one person or two who needs it most. You never know, a few, thoughtful words might start a chain reaction that will help change the world for the better.
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Written by @lekzumali
Check out her musings on Instagram!