Thursday, April 17, 2008

Words of Encouragement

When we feel discouraged, it’s usual to try to find some external source which will give encouragement. We think that we can find a way to increase our motivation by finding someone who can give us a pep talk, or by reading a motivating book or a piece of motivational writing—much like this one.

It’s true that these things, especially people with a bright outlook on life, can give us encouragement and motivation. People with a positive outlook can do wonders for our own mental outlook. But sometimes that doesn’t work. No matter how much we’re around positive people, the great outlook just doesn’t seem to rub off.

So what do we do when we have no motivation and can’t be bothered?

What do we do when we want to feel positive but can’t help feeling negative? Being in a positive situation, with positive people can help us to be encouraged, but we need something more.

And paradoxically—as always—what can be good for us is the exact opposite of what we think. Being around positive people can be good because they encourage us, but it doesn’t follow that they are positive and so are good at giving encouragement. It can be that they are good at giving encouragement, and so therefore have a positive outlook. What you give out, you get back.

What may be needed then, when we feel a lack of motivation and feel discouraged with our progress and life in general, is not encouragement or to be around positive people. What may be needed is for us to be around people who need encouragement and motivation and for us to give it to them. We then find that what we give out—encouragement—comes back to us.
If you look back on times when you have encouraged someone to make an effort, you usually find that your own outlook improved dramatically.
This paradox is encapsulated in one of the many Zen sayings which relate to our outlook on life. One day a Zen student went to his master feeling that he wasn’t progressing in his training. The conversation went like this…

Zen student: “Master, I am very discouraged.”
Master: “Encourage others.”

The next time you find yourself feeling discouraged look at how you could give encouragement to someone else. The encouragement you give out will come right back to you in the form of encouragement for yourself.
Source: The Sober Village


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