Like most of you, I'm not particularly fond of viruses, on my computer, in my body, in my family's bodies. They're just not pleasant. Even the "new" definition of viral (a video, image or text spread by "word of mouth" on the internet or by e-mail) has an essence of gossip or of information "in bad taste." Both of which I avoid like The Plague (which may or may not have been a virus). Well, maybe not like that. Just to clarify, that doesn't mean you have to stop emailing me those jokes, cuz some of them are pretty funny. Like that one about the deodorant, and "remove cap and push up...". Ahem. Sorry.
One thing that would be awesome if it went "viral" is encouragement. Imagine how a world would change if our encouragement of each other spread like wildfire, er, went viral. Building each other up, turning frowns upside down, changing attitudes, ambition, hours, days, making someone feel good about themself. We all. so. desperately. need to be encouraged. We soak it in like we're dying of thirst, despite our sometimes reluctance to accept kind words from one another.
My mom is a great encourager, and I desire to be like that. For some people this skill or gift comes naturally. For me? Not so much. I have to work a bit harder at it, and much more consciously. When I became a parent, one of the things that I (we) have tried to do is to be very encouraging of our children. I know I could do better at this, but at the same time, to a certain degree, it is almost automatic for me to be encouraging of them. Yet, I have a much harder time when it comes to adults. I suppose it might seem a little odd to praise my friend for tying her shoes so well. (Especially since they're probably slip-ons.) I know for me, it doesn't really occur to me to look for the good in someone and to compliment them. Which is sad. Or maybe it occurs later, and I think it's too late.
I am so glad to have a few friends in my life who are naturals at this. I learn from them, and am challenged by them to pass it on. I recently got a message on Facebook with a great encouraging message. But the thing is, I'm really a detester of those "forward to 500 of your closest friends" emails or messages. Not that I don't forward, just that there's that directive and a number. The number really gets me. And then, to really top it off, I loathe the ones that come with some sort of "do this or ...blah blah blah" guilt message. Grrr! It seems to take all the fun right out of it for me. I most certainly passed on this lovely encouraging message. But I left out the "forward to 8 great people who deserve this too" part.
Which means... I killed the virus.
Because there wasn't that "message of motivation" for others to share the love. But... I think those friends of mine were more blessed by it. Many commented. One wrote me back and told me I rocked. Another said she almost cried, she needed to hear that so badly that day. They all appreciated it. They all needed it. And out of it, I got encouraged 3 times. First when I recieved the message, second when I passed it on, and third when others thanked me for it. I think I win. ??? Weird.
So why don't we encourage more often? I encourage, or challenge, you today to go and encourage someone else. Send them, call them, write them and encouraging note, giving credit to one good point of who they are or what they do. Someone who you haven't heard from in a while, a child down in the dumps or crabby, a cranky salesperson. Pass it on, pay it forward, spread the love. Whatever. I think you will be encouraged in return.