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There’s always a reason to avoid helping someone. Finances, distance, capability, health, or other obstacles often stand between me and assisting a friend. Maybe they need help moving, but my sprained ankle won’t allow me to lift boxes. Maybe they’re having a rough day, and I can’t take them out for coffee because I’m out of town. Maybe they’re going through financial difficulties, but I have no money to spare. Standing by and doing nothing makes me feel worthless. What can I do when I’m prevented from offering something tangible to those in need?
Granny from Summer Wars is intimately familiar with this problem. At eighty-nine years old, there’s not much she can do when a vicious virus breaks out in OZ, the virtual world that connects just about every facet of society. Some of her family are prevented from visiting her on her birthday because of traffic jams; others, because they are dealing with the crisis in their jobs.
She could have stayed put, bitter that this event occurred on what was supposed to be a special day. It’s not like there was anything else for her to do—she couldn’t drive out to help direct traffic or volunteer at a hospital. She could have easily looked at all the things she couldn’t do, and let the situation play out. But instead, she decides to encourage.
After hearing about the crisis on the international news, she gets out her address books and starts calling everyone she knows who might be involved with the situation—emergency personnel, old friends, government officials. “Don’t lose heart!” she tells them. “This is something only you can do.” “You betcha you can!”
Her words encourage the people who can do something about the situation to do it, no matter how much of a mess it is. In the end, her calls are so effective, the emergency is resolved and her family makes it out to her estate after all. If Granny had sat on her hands, nothing would have been resolved in time.
I have a lovely friend who lives a few hundred miles from me. Sometimes I will share my problems with her. She can’t physically be here to help me, but she gives me so much encouragement to keep on keeping on.
Words are powerful. When someone else believes in me, and tells me as much, it gives me the strength to continue. When my friend tells me, “You’ve got this,” I feel like I can make it through a long day, finish editing a difficult article, or keep working on a novel even though a publisher rejected it. I can do it because someone else believes in me. Sometimes I need someone to support me when I can no longer support myself.
Many scientific studies state that encouragement can even improve health. According to this research paper, we heal faster when we’re encouraged and we can even live longer. Other studies indicate it can even improve the health of your heart, immune system, and nervous system. Maybe that’s why Grandma Sake lived so long.
Likewise, I can encourage others when they need it. I may not be there to give them a hug, but I can offer them kind words. I may not be there in person, but can be there in spirit.
When I know a distant friend is feeling down, I send them a text or give them a phone call or webcam to give them encouragement. Sending good quotes or inspirational music can be encouraging. There are so many ways to encourage. I just have to take the initiative to do it and when I see someone so encouraged by my words, I in turn feel encouraged.
I want to encourage and lift other people up with my words. I want to inspire them to go on each and every day and to accomplish even the most difficult tasks. I want to be like my friend and Grandma Sakae Jinnouchi.