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A national day that can be observe every day

By DAVID WHITLOCK

Religion columnist

Have you noticed how many national days there are? I can’t keep up with all of them and ignore most of them. For instance, this month alone, I’ve already missed World Coconut Day (Sept. 2), National Skyscraper Day (Sept. 3), and National Cheese Pizza Day (Sept. 5). And had it not been for a surprise visit from my two grandchildren, who brought Lori and me homemade muffins, I would have missed National Grandparents Day (Sept. 9).

But here’s one national day I don’t want to miss: National Day of Encouragement. It’s observed, appropriately, on Wednesday, Sept. 12, the day after 9/11. Sept. 11 is a sad memory for our nation, and sometimes encouragement helps us in our grief, so I plan to be intentional in my encouragement of others that day.

Even if you’re reading this after the National Day of Encouragement, you can still participate in it, for encouraging others is not complicated and can happen most anywhere, anytime.

In fact, here’s 10 simple ways you can encourage people:

1. Write or tell someone you appreciate them for who they are as much as for what they do for you. Focus on character qualities. You might say, “I love your joy,” or, “Thank you for being a person of character and integrity.”

2. Remind someone you haven’t forgotten them. How many people feel alone and abandoned? Just walk down the halls of most any nursing facility, and you will find them. Or perhaps you should look into the room of your teenage son or daughter, sit down, and tell them how much you think of them. They’ll probably tell you you’re weird, but do it anyway.

3. Make something for someone. Do you know how much that thrilled me when my daughter baked muffins, and my grandchildren — with smiles on their faces, gave them to me? Sometimes it’s the small actions that make the biggest difference. But you may want to invest more time in your project. A friend of mine, who can make just about anything, made his granddaughter a little pretend fishing pole, complete with a magnetic fishing hook to “catch” the wooden fish he had created. What an encouragement that will be for that little girl, knowing her granddaddy took time to make that, just for her.

4. Sit down and listen to someone who wants to talk. If it’s someone who talks about things of little or no interest to you, this is an act of mercy and love on your part.

5. Write down a Bible verse that’s meaningful to you and send it to a friend. You might include a note, telling them you thought of them when you read the verse.

6. Give someone a hug. Some folks, like me, aren’t the “touchy-feely” sort, so be discriminating, but we all need hugs. I’ve read where we need at least 12 hugs a day and that a hug can actually lower a person’s heart rate and blood pressure because it releases oxytocin, a powerful hormone in the brain that is only found in mammals.

7. Send the words of one of your favorite songs to someone. You might say, “I hope this encourages you like it does me,” or, “I thought of you when I heard this song.” (I occasionally send songs, along with a message, on my phone.)

8. Show up for something that’s important to someone, like a play or a ball game they’re in.

9. Tell someone how much they’ve grown. Kids like to hear about their physical growth, but if you’ve seen spiritual or emotional growth in people, tell them about it.

10. Encourage someone by telling them how much they’ve encouraged you.

Now, here’s a bonus suggestion: Encourage others to encourage others. At home or at work, you might promote an “all-out” National Day of Encouragement where everyone encourages at least one person that day.

Okay, maybe you’re reading this, and National Day of Encouragement is history. Lo and behold, it’s already National Peanut Day.

Don’t despair. Who says a day of encouragement has to be confined to one day, once a year? Just go back over my list, (I’m sure you can add to it) pick one, do it, and voila: It’s another day of encouragement. Enjoy.