In our lives we inevitably come upon situations with both encouraging and discouraging responses. If you’re anything like me, you may find that you unconsciously focus on the negative replies. Here we find ourselves with an opportunity.
We cannot change the responses we get. They are from outside us. But we can change our focus. This is akin to the quote by Maya Angelou who said “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”
We can look at those who are encouraging us, rather than the ones trying to tear us down. This is not ignoring people, or hiding in a bubble. I am not suggesting we delete discouraging comments, unfollow everyone who we disagree with, and pretend the whole world feels the same way we do. What I have found exceptionally helpful this past week has been taking time to sit and appreciate the encouragement in my life.
Instead of just glossing over someone liking one of my tweets or pieces of artwork, I’ve stopped and been still. I’ve started looking at their name and icon and making an effort to be grateful that what I created meant something to them. I’ve let it take a spot in the front of my mind for a minute.
A friend recently said to me that “likes have no value.” In some ways I tend to agree. Yet they individually have the potential to do something very important for you, if you let them. When someone likes something you’ve made, be it artwork, music, or written word, if you stop and appreciate that you’ve affected another person in a positive way, their little Like has supreme value. If you gloss over them (or worse, lump them together and think to yourself “I wish I had more likes on this post”) then any value a like could have quickly disappears.
Sometimes likes become so common to us that we forget what they are: symbolic cheers of encouragement.
This week I am going to try to continue the trend of focusing on encouragement rather than discouragement. I am going to be conscious about seeing each person who interacts with me, even when it is as simple as a little heart icon on Twitter. Want to give it a try? The only thing you have to lose is the bad feeling you get when someone discourages you. And you will gain a perspective of knowing that what you are doing matters to someone, and that person matters, too.