It seems to be human nature that when someone is going through a difficult time, or trying to accomplish something challenging, we offer support and encouragement. This support can come in many forms -- it could be as simple as kind words and encouragement to continue the battle, or it could be sending a card, or even making meals and helping with household chores; depending on what exactly a person is going through.
During the time that I was struggling to lose weight, I found the encouragement of friends, whether in person or on social media, really buoyed my resolve to keep going. I can honestly say that I don't think I could have done it without the occasional, "You're looking great, keep it up!", or even posting a comment on Facebook saying, "Go get it!". It was these positive thoughts that filled my head as I ran that first Volcano Half Marathon, and it was those people that I immediately wanted to thank as I yelled, and typed, "I did it!".
This entire experience of discovering fitness, combined with recent thoughts on the importance of exuding positivity rather than negativity, has really taught me the value of encouragement. But just as encouraging others during struggles seems to be a natural response, so does complaining about things like your job, yard work (I struggle with this one), the weather, your town, your boss, your pastor, your local places of business, etc. It isn't easy to stop yourself from complaining about something that bugs you, but I truly believe that it must be done -- or you risk letting that negative mentality affect all of your thoughts. It is my goal to build others up, whenever possible, rather than tear them down.
I will admit that I have fallen for "the dark side" of thinking in local Facebook groups in the past, but I have made a concerted effort to only make positive posts. It takes real discipline, especially when there seems to be a perfect setup for a snarky, sarcastic comment. I have to slap my own hand and say, "No".
As I look at my friends' posts on social media, I see a vast array of interests, hobbies, and vocations posted -- you name it; dogs, cooking, gardening, home improvements, CrossFit, running, what they are doing at work, volunteering, their kids, vacations, brewing beer, drinking coffee (even roasting their own coffee), and on and on. How often do we think to ourselves, "Oh great, there goes so-and-so posting again about such-and-such"; rather than maybe offering words of encouragement and support. It really doesn't take any more effort than the negative thoughts, once you've trained our brain to stop with the negativity.
One of the things I have really enjoyed about the running community is the mutual support and encouragement. I first discovered it with that very first half marathon, and I have experienced with every race since then, as well a with the Molalla Running Club (especially with the running club).
Sure, there are runners who only care about beating everyone else, or being close to the front every time, but the vast majority are middle of the pack runners who choose to race because of the supportive community that is there. These people remain and encouragement to me to this day. It's attitudes like the following saying that are prevalent in the running community, and the ones that continue to inspire me.
It's doesn't matter how slow you run, just don't stop moving forward.
Encouraging others is something I am still working on. For some people, like my wife, it seems to come more natural than it does for me. But I have seen first hand what encouragement can do, and I am committed to continuing to make a positive contribution to my community, whether it's social media or real life. Who's with me?