We encourage the whole being when we invest in more than words, more than activities, and more than thoughts. Whole being encouragement encompasses a balance in all that we are for all that we are.
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We need encouragement that covers our whole selves to live our best lives. We think about encouraging the heart or feeding the mind – a kind word, a smile, a note in the mail. But we often miss the need for encouraging the body. We think about encouragement in the action moments – like a coach cheering for the athlete or a friend helping with the last legs of a task. But we forget the importance and power that comes from encouragement in rest.
Encouragement for the whole being allows for balance, and balance is necessary if you’re going to live bold and purposeful. If you are going to move past just surviving to the point of thriving then you’ll need balance which takes whole being encouragement.
Shortly after launching the WhiteBoard of World Domination, I realized I had a lot of targets. It was hard breaking down my day into little bits because there were so many directions on which I wanted to focus. I reviewed the list and realized that when I grouped them, all my targets fell into four areas:
- Aspiration – work and purpose living
- Stewardship – care of stuff and resources
- Transformation – the mind and the body
- Fellowship – the relationships and connections
By focusing a little bit on each of these four areas, I began to discover in my life and for my life. The more balanced I became, the easier it was to find the encouragement necessary to keep moving towards my BIG DREAMS.
When it comes to living encouraged, we need the balance to be bold. And the balance comes from focusing on the whole being.
- Heart – the spirit, the boldness, and the willingness needed to try
- Mind – the intellect, learning, and thought monitor
- Body – the wellness, strength, agility, and health factor
- In Action – the focus of intentional movement for what needs to be done
- In Resting – embracing the still moments, harness the quiet, and make space for both to occur.
A life outside of encouragement looks like a damp, dark day. It may not be hopeless right now, but without encouragement, hopelessness is not far away. And once you fall prey to hopelessness, doing anything (even surviving) becomes a challenge.
Hope grows up through encouragement, and it grows encouragement. And encouraging the heart sets a firm foundation for hope to grow and spread, so start living your encouraged life by encouraging the heart.
The heart is the center of the being – the spirit, the life force. We usually think about the heart as the physical source of life to the body, but it’s so much more. The heart holds the feelings, emotions, and will. It’s the center of who you are and of what you are doing. It’s the guiding light. When encouragement is withheld from the heart, the light fades.
Without a guiding light, you can’t be sure which way to go.
Attending writer’s conferences always encouraged my heart. Even if a publisher didn’t chase me down and force me to sign a six-figure contract (which I always expect to happen) I still gained something from my attendance.
With one exception.
I attended a conference eager to take a specific session on how authors could build speaking careers. I had recently discovered podcasting and had the opportunity to speak to several groups. I found I loved the new word medium. Expanding on that love seemed like the logical next step for my journey.
Her presentation was amazing and I took pages of notes. And then, as if things couldn’t get any better, she encouraged us to come up and talk with her after the presentation ended.
I stood in line, reviewing my notes, so I could ask questions that would expand on what I had learned. I almost didn’t hear what she was saying to the lady ahead of me. “People want to hear from someone who looks like you.” She told the well-dressed and socially fit lady. But I did hear what she was saying to the other lady, and when I looked up the presenter was looking at me with contempt.
And then I heard her loud and clear. People didn’t want to hear from someone who looked like me. I didn’t dress right. I wasn’t in shape. I was fat and my pants were ugly. It may not be what she said, but my heart knew what she mean.
With a few words and a quick glance, she sucked out all the encouragement I had gained from the rest of the experience. She stripped my dreams of possibilities. I couldn’t do what I wanted to do until I looked a certain way.
My heart was broken and all the encouragement seeped out the cracks.
I don’t remember much else from that writer’s conference. How could I? Learning and growing and possibilities can get through a wall of impossibility. Encouragement makes the way and I had lost all of my encouragement.
A lack of encouragement will break the heart. A broken heart remembers little more than the pain. A broken heart can’t move from where it is much less move with boldness.
The broken has to be fixed first, and that fixing begins with encouragement. You need to feed the heart encouragement – and you need to protect it from the attacks that seek to create the cracks that will allow the encouragement to seep out.
Often, encouragement begins in the head even when it’s meant for the heart. The mind and thoughts dictate the acceptance of encouragement and even the growth of encouragement. It’s been said that what the mind can believe, the man can achieve. Encouragement fuels the mind to believe. Without encouragement, doubt takes root and eventually takes over.
2. Encourage the Mind
When I was starting my show garden, I took any plants people were willing to share. I had a total budget of ZERO for my garden plan, so I put out a sign “will work for flowers” – not really, but close. I invested plenty of sweat equity to acquire the plants to fill the 2 acres of garden space I had cleared.
One of the plants came from a member of my gardening club. “It’s a great ground cover,” she assured me. I didn’t really need a ground cover, but any plant in a pinch. “It only gets six inches tall,” she added to her assurance that the plant had worth for my garden. Her only concern was that the plant needed full shade and much of my yard had sun. “It needs the full shade to thrive.”
I listened to her advice and then promptly ignored it. Nature took care of the shaded areas of our gardens. I had a spot picked out that only had a little shade in the afternoon. A rule of thumb for all plants that were planted in our gardens was you thrive where you’re planted or you don’t remain. They needed to be drought-tolerant, dog-proof, boy-proof, and flexible in their condition needs. More than a few didn’t make it over the years.
This plant was not one of the ones that didn’t make it. As a matter of fact, it became a force to be reconned with. Apparently, it didn’t listen to what my gardening friend said about its requirements, its growth potential, or its size. Once it took root, it took over. It spread like fire ants through a field – new growth popping up in the yard, in other beds, and throughout the bed where it had been planted. This six-inch ground cover grew to a six-foot menace – and we couldn’t get rid of it no matter how many times we dug it up and burned the results.
The mind is more fertile than any garden and the negatives are more prolific than some shade-loving ground cover. The things we sow in our minds and the seeds we scatter will take root. I repeat THEY WILL TAKE ROOT! Getting rid of those you don’t want can take decades – if they ever completely go away.
Encouragement can help root out the mind weeds, and when teamed with trust, the two become a powerful force for thought change. Or you can avoid all the weeding needs and just plant encouragement to begin with.
Feed your mind with encouragement that is specific for your unique design.
- Hang out with others who believe you can
- Hang out with others that have and that want to see others succeed
- Spend time listening to music that inspires or emboldens you
- Read words – books, blogs, magazines – that are overflowing with encouragement, possibility pursuit, and hope (you can never have too much hope).
Feeding the mind encouragement sets the stage for bold and purposeful living. Where the mind leads, the man will follow.
But if we don’t encourage the body, we won’t be in a position (quite literally) to pursue the encouraged mind.
The body determines the amount of action we can take – because we have physical limits in what we can do. If you’re too tired, too out of shape, too sore (from trying to get in shape), or too unprepared for what lies ahead then you will end up too little for what you want to do.
We are called to be good stewards over all that we’ve been given, but until this very moment, I hadn’t considered being a steward over my body. Yes, I thought of it as a temple – at least I knew that reference. But I hadn’t imagined myself a steward the way I had for property, words, and even my children.
I don’t know why, but I guess I had decided that my body was my body and I was the one that had to live in it so I was the one that would determine what to do with it.
Anyway, no matter how I looked at it, I didn’t think I would be getting a report of “good and faithful servant” when it came to my body.
See – still saying my body.
I haven’t been invested in encouraging my body. Instead, I’ve fallen into the trap of THEY. They say to walk/run. They say to eat greens. They say to get eight hours of sleep. They say a lot.
When did I feel my most comfortable? Why?
When did I feel the least comfortable? Why?
What are activities I love but no longer do? Why not?
When have I felt completely rested in the last two weeks? Why?
Do I rely on outside substances to get me going? What?
What soothes my body?
Answering these questions honestly and thoroughly can give me an understanding of what encourages my body so that I can invest in encouragement.
An encouraged body is a healthy body, a soothed body, and a contented body – and it will look different on everyone because every body is unique. The more I understand how my body is encouraged then the more I can encourage my body and an encouraged body will be conditioned to bring the mind’s dreams to fruition.
It takes action to live our BIG DREAMS and you need encouragement for, in, and through the action moments.
Encouragement in action drives us farther than we can go on our own. It’s almost as if the encourager pours their energy into our hearts. When we think we can’t go on, the encouragement gives us what we need to take the next step.
When I think of encouragement in action, I always picture the movie, Facing the Giant. In one scene, the players are doing the crabwalk drill during practice – where one player is hoisted onto the back of a second player and the second player has to do the crabwalk with the weight on his back.
Crabwalks are tough. Crabwalks with a football player on your back seem impossible to me.
The players were doing it, at least for a few yards. The coach knew they could do better and looked for a way to encourage the team. He blindfolded the defensive team captain and had him repeat the drill. The coach walked along beside him encouraging the player each step of the way. The team joined in. He listened to their encouragement and was no longer hindered by the limitations of his personal vision. He went the full distance of the field instead of just a few yards. He went farther with their encouragement than he could have ever gone on his own.
If you’ve never seen Facing the Giants, I recommend it – if only for this one scene.
We are capable of so much more and it’s the encouragement in action that dares us to take it to the next level.
But for all the actions that get us there, the downtimes are what make the actions possible. We have to be encouraged in our rest so we are empowered in our actions.
I woke up the other morning with a piercing pain shooting through the back of my shoulder. For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out what I had done. I also realized I couldn’t do anything without igniting that shooting pain through my body.
My husband stepped up and took care of my needs. He made a place for me to sit and relax. He set up a heating pad. He even made sure I had meals and drinks throughout the day.
He encouraged me in my rest.
Too often we’re pushed to push through the pain. We are told to keep going even when it hurts. We are challenged to pull ourselves up by our bootstrings.
How did that saying even get started? Have you ever tried to pull anything up by bootstrings?
But back to the encouragement process. Pushing through the pain is one more way to demand that you keep going even when you know you need a break.
We need rest.
We need quiet time.
We need still moments.
Look for ways to be encouraged in your rest and you will have what you need to live your best life.
Living encouraged happens when the whole of who you are is encouraged.
- You have an encouraged heart.
- You have an encouraged mind.
- You have an encouraged body.
- You are encouraged in your actions.
- You are encouraged in your rest.
When we are fortified in this whole being encouragement then we become unstoppable.
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Need more encouragement?
Practical Proverbs pulls encouragement tips directly from the Book of Proverbs.