I’m going to share a little secret with you. When I’m discouraged or having a hard day, this is what I do (okay, not always, but I try!).
I look around to see how I can encourage someone else.
I know what you’re thinking…. “But what about me, what about my problems?” Something happens when I get my eyes off my problems and focus on someone else. It changes us and it feels so good! When you realize that other people are going through stuff too, it reminds you that you’re not alone, that your problems aren’t too big, and that we all have stuff we go through.
How would you feel if I told you that you could be an encouragement to other moms all week long, even in the midst of raising small kids? What if I told you that you could shower them with gifts — without spending a penny?
Because you can! Strangers, friends, sisters, aunts, cousins…
7 Things You Can Give Others That Won’t Cost a Cent
- A smile. Have you ever had one of those days— you know the kind I’m talking about— where everything just feels hard? And then you go into the grocery store with your crying child and you want nothing more than to run and hide, and then someone smiles a genuine “You’re not alone” kind of smile. And you suddenly feel like you’re going to be okay. That’s the power of a smile! And we can give that away to others! When I smile at people who aren’t smiling or look sad I can see their mood shift. “A smile of encouragement at the right time may act like sunlight on a closed up flower; it may be the turning point for a struggling life.” – Alfred A. Montapert “I will never understand all the good that a simple smile can accomplish.” – Mother Teresa
- Grace. Definition of grace: disposition to or an act or instance of kindness, courtesy, or clemency. Do you ever wish someone would just have some grace on you? I know I do, like when I’m running late for something. Sometimes I just need a little grace and understanding. I challenge you to give away what you sometimes wish you had received. Give this one generously and freely, expecting nothing in return! It feels so good to be gracious to others!
- The benefit of the doubt. We all need this! When you have been hurt or offended, give someone the benefit of the doubt. Know that most people aren’t out trying to hurt you or offend you. Next time you’re hurt or offended, ask yourself, “Did that person purposely try to overlook me or say that thing that was hurtful?” The answer is probably not. Give them the benefit of the doubt!
- Hugs. Do you remember when there was this big ‘hug’ movement? People would walk around with their ‘Free Hugs’ sign in the airport and other crowded places. Do you know that there has been research done on the positive effects of hugs? And the findings are astounding! Research has shown that we need physical contact to feel connected to something other than ourselves and to feel a little less alone, especially in times of need. Scientists have discovered that when humans get emotionally upset, that our bodies actually react in order to manage the increased energy. Many people turn to outside (sometimes superficial) ways to cope- like eating for comfort, trying to numb our feelings by turning on the television, or perhaps needing a drink. They say the healthiest way to combat stress is physical touch…. Hugs! Psychologist Virginia Satir once said, “We need four hugs a day for survival. We need eight hugs a day for maintenance. We need twelve hugs a day for growth.” So, if you have a friend or family member that is going through a hard time, she not only needs a listening ear, but she just might need a hug!
- Forgiveness. When a friend or family member hurts us, it can be hard to forgive that person. What I have found is that when I’m holding a grudge against someone, they are usually off enjoying their life and I’m the one being held prisoner by my unforgiveness. To give someone the gift of forgiveness not only is a gift to them, but it is also a gift to ourselves. It sets us free to move forward and not have those negative emotions inside of us, stealing our joy.
- Love. This is the greatest gift! Let others around you know that you love them. Life is short! Let them know that they are important to you. Give them your unconditional love– not expecting anything back in return. What you will discover is that you will get love back in return!
- Time. Ahh… time. This one goes without saying. If you care about someone, one of the best ways to show it is by making time for them. This can be difficult in our busy lives, especially for those with small children. But in order for a relationship to grow and for others to feel valued, we must try to find time in our busy schedule. If you have a group of friends with young kids, this might look like scheduling a play-date. Perhaps you could go out for coffee, or plan a lunch get-together. Or this might look like waiting until bedtime or naptime to catch up over the phone. Think back about a time when you really needed a friend, and had someone meet you out to just be there for you. How good did that feel? Or if you didn’t have that friend to call up, how hard was that for you? You might have to get creative on how you give this gift, but remember, the gift of time is truly priceless!