A little encouragement always feels great! However, when life gets hard enough being encourageable can seem impossible. Below are inspiring ways you can be more encourageable.
Encouraged doesn’t mean life is all rosy and pleasant. Encouraged means you can handle it.
1. Get Sufficient Sleep
Discouragement and sleep deprivation spin in a vicious circle.
Feeling Tired Doesn’t Feel Encourageable
Constantly feeling good isn’t the key to happiness. We need those natural ups and downs. Our hormones and energy cycle just like the seasons cycle. And nothing feels better than being exhausted after a challenging and productive hard day’s work. But chronic sleep deprivation is not the kind of tired we should seek.
We all know feeling tired doesn’t feel good. Yet too many of us practice habits that unnecessarily wreck our sleep. Mostly because we don’t think we have time to do everything we need and want to do.
Quality Sleep Creates More Time
In a rush or sprint, one late night might help you finish a project or task and won’t likely cause you any chronic issues. If you think you’re going to be more productive by skipping sleep to spend more hours working, think again.
However, insufficient sleep only creates more work. This HumanResourcesOnline* article lists some epic mistakes made by employees who tried working with insufficient sleep. You may not only create more work for yourself to correct your mistakes, but you may cost your company or yourself mucho dinero.
Quality Sleep Supports Quality of Life
In addition to the extra work missing sleep creates and the dollars it costs, there are negative effects on your body. This SleepJunkie** article details a frightening list.
I do it now and then. If you want to knock out a project, go ahead. Just know you’ll likely have to come back to fix some mistakes. And prepare for a day of cravings and crankiness.
When crankiness is easy and thinking is difficult, encouragement is difficult. Sufficient sleep will help you become and remain more encourageable.
2. Meditate Ten Minutes Every Day
When you spend too much time dwelling on the negative, on things you can’t control, encouragement becomes difficult.
Set aside time to deliberately pay attention to when your thoughts wander. It doesn’t matter where they go. Don’t worry about controlling them. It’s not possible. Just practice noticing when thoughts wander off where you don’t want them to
Meditation is practicing awareness, not control.
Oh, and it’s just practice.
Humans Can’t Control Thoughts
Not completely. The best we can do is practice. That’s meditation.
Practice Focusing on Your Breathing
Slowly in. A… little… slower… out. Your chest rises on the inhale. Then. It falls… slowly… on… the exhale. The cool air flowing in your nostrils. The warm air flowing out of your mouth.
When you realize your mind wandered off to all the crap piling up at work, focus back on scanning your breathing. That’s rep 1.
Get Out of Your Head and Into Your Body
Focus on aches, pains and itches. Don’t dwell on how much they hurt, how pleasant the sensation are or aren’t. Just notice them.
When you realize your mind has wandered off to how silly you feel trying to meditate, focus back on your body. That’s another rep.
Instead of getting frustrated by your wandering mind, see how many reps you can do in ten minutes. How many times do bring your thoughts back after you realize that they wandered? Get in your reps!
Meditation is Pushups for the Soul
Just like trying to knock out 100 pushups on your first day will only make you sore and hate pushups, trying to meditate an hour on day one will only frustrate you. If you’re new to pushups, start with five. If you’re new to meditation, start with one minute of focusing on your breath and work up from there.
Many recommend meditating right after you wake up. I recommend meditating in your car when you arrive at work and before you go in. You might need a regroup if the drive was stressful or you might want to take stock of your thoughts before you head into Wonderland. Think Willie Nelson:
“And Lord, I just dropped in to see
What condition my condition was in.”
– Willie Nelson
Where Do Your Thoughts Go?
Do they go where encouragement can’t? Take notice. You’ll be more encourageable when you spend more time where encouragement can go.
3. Exercise a Few Times Per Week to Stay Encourageable
I Don’t Exercise for My Body
Something occurred to me a few weeks into hitting the gym during lunch instead of joining coworkers in complaining or wallering in my sorrows during lunch alone: I don’t lift weights for my body.
I see some progress when I look in the mirror, especially right after a workout when I’m still a little pumped. I get excited about going home and asking my wife, “Do I look like Thor yet?,” but the pump unpumps by the time I get home.
I often don’t feel like going to the gym. I’d rather go to lunch with friends. I’d rather take it easy and not endure the unpleasantness of pushing and pulling those heavy things.
I’m tempted to stay in the office and tick another item or two off the task list. Maybe I can catch up!
(Spoiler alert: You will never catch up.)
I can impress my coworkers and management with my undying commitment to the job and attend every meeting I’m invited to instead of setting everything aside to hit the gym during the least crowded time of the day.
Sometimes I’m just too tired. My office chair is pretty comfortable. It would be far more pleasant to stay and work, maybe even sneak in a nap, than to go push and pull all those heavy, clanking chunks of steel.
“Don’t make a habit out of choosing what feels good over what’s actually good for you.”
– Eric Thomas
As I’m typing this draft at this moment, my chest and triceps are sore from yesterday’s workout. It’s not pleasant.
I told a coworker last week: If I’m going to be the kind of person who never misses a workout, I have to be the kind of person who can’t say yes to every meeting invitation.
The Real Reason I Exercise
I certainly enjoy obvious physical health benefits from exercise, but that’s not why I do it.
I exercise for the most important muscle of all: my brain. Just like the sweat flushes toxins from my body, the exercise flushes toxins from my mind and brain.
Every rep is a challenge to overcome. If you do just ten pushups, that’s ten mini-challenges you face and work through. In a few days you’ll be able to calmly face 15, then 20 mini-challenges, breathe deeply and work through them, and overcome them. It’s great practice for all the challenges you face day to day outside the gym.
It’s just practice.
How Many Times Per Week Should I Exercise?
I exercise four or five times per week. Wednesday is a lighter day, just enough cardio to work up a sweat. My best friend exercises twice per week. He says he’d like to increase it to three, but twice weekly seems to work well for him. The minimum recommendation for weight training is three times per week.
One of the best things you can do to reduce stress as well as be more encourageable is exercise consistently.
Let’s Get More Encourageable!
These three actions are also my Independently Happy Prescription for Well-being.
Or click to download your copy. Of course, it’s free!
If you don’t think you have time to sleep, meditate or exercise, check out Time Flies So Fast. It just might blow your mind!
For more on meditation, check out:
- * HumanResourcesOnline: The Top Mistakes Staff Have Made Due to Lack of Sleep
- ** SleepJunkie: What One Night of Sleep Loss Can Do to You