Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness. —Martin Luther King Jr.
A few weeks ago I was struggling to stay afloat. I went to my office mailbox and found a small card — a note from one of my staff members. It began with a recognition that it appeared to have been a difficult quarter for me and then this person listed specific things they had noticed me doing that they felt had made a difference. It was a powerful and immediate boost to my spirits.
That note has me thinking about the countless opportunities we have to encourage others. What if we all took advantage? What if we trained ourselves to see, and acknowledge, the good in our daily lives, our community, and our world? It could truly be life-changing, for ourselves and for others. As awful as things sometimes appear, there is considerably more positive in the world than negative. The good just does not get the attention it deserves.
So what made this note so powerful? First, it demonstrated empathy. There was an acknowledgement of the struggle. Then, there was encouragement — “I see what you are doing.” Empathy and encouragement. It’s impossible to argue that the world wouldn’t be a better place with more of both.
Here is the great thing about encouragement — giver and receiver benefit. So, instead of scrolling through your Twitter feed, watching the news, or engaging in an argument on Facebook, try writing a thank-you note or email, making a positive phone call, or find a way to let another human being know they matter.
Altruism or selfishness. Your choice.