Today is the National Day of Encouragement.
While it passed as a simple resolution in the U.S. Senate, it's not currently a national holiday any more than its fellow simple resolution days – Rare Disease Day, Collector Car Appreciation Day and National Falls Prevention Awareness Day. No, I did not make any of those up. Seriously. I didn't.
But that doesn't mean we can't celebrate it. If I can celebrate International Talk Like a Pirate Day – coming up on Sept. 19 – I certainly can celebrate the National Day of Encouragement, which – according to its Wikipedia page – began in 2007 with the help of The Encouragement Foundation at Harding University in Searcy, Ark.
And while I agree The Encouragement Foundation is a totally lame name – it sounds like a group of people trying to convince a puppy not to poop in the house – I must say I'm down with what they're trying to do.
Andrew Baker, the organizer of the National Day of Encouragement and executive director of The Encouragement Foundation, had this to say about the day on the Harding University website:
“The National Day of Encouragement is about inspiring Americans to make deliberate words and acts of encouragement a part of this day first, and then a part of every day of their lives."
The U.S. Senate simple resolution that was passed goes even further:
Whereas negative images, stories, and influences in the day-to-day lives of the people of the United States can detrimentally affect their emotional well-being, interactions with others, and general demeanor;
Whereas a group of teenagers participating in a leadership forum at Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas, identified a lack of encouragement as one of the greatest problems facing young people today;
Whereas the youth of the United States need guidance, inspiration, and reassurance to counteract this negativity and to develop the qualities of character essential for future leadership in the United States;
Whereas a National Day of Encouragement would serve as a reminder to counterbalance and overcome negative influences, and would also provide much-needed encouragement and support to others;
Whereas, following the events of September 11, 2001, thousands of people made sacrifices in order to bring help and healing to the victims and their families, inspiring and encouraging the people of the United States; and
Whereas the renewed feelings of unity, hope, selflessness, and encouragement that began on September 12, 2001, are the same feelings that the National Day of Encouragement is meant to recapture and spread: Now, therefore, be it
Resolved, That the Senate--
(1) designates September 12, 2011, as ‘National Day of Encouragement’;
(2) acknowledges the importance of encouragement and positive influences in the lives of all people; and
(3) urges the people of the United States to encourage others, whether through an act of service, a thoughtful letter, or words of kindness and inspiration, and by that encouragement to boost the morale of all people of the United States.
Ah, that makes sense. It also make me want to see one of these passed for International Talk Like a Pirate Day:
Whereas talking like a pirate is totally awesome;
Whereas "scurvy dogs" and "shivered timbers" might be the height of the English language; and
Whereas everyone would be a little bit happier if they started every sentence with "Yar": Now, therefore, be it
Resolved, That the Senate--
(1) designates September 19 as International Talk Like a Pirate Day; and
(2) be forced to talk like said pirates until a budget compromise is reached and passed.
So, let's just agree that the National Day of Encouragement is a good idea. But how should we celebrate it? I have five thoughts on this:
1. Tell somebody "great job" today. Even it was just above average. Heck, it's not Tell the Truth Without Regards to Others' Feelings Day. That doesn't come until March.
2. High-fives, high-fives, high-fives. You need to high-five at least three people today. Nothing says encouragement like a high-five. Just make sure the other person is paying attention. It's also not Slap a Friend in the Face While Pretending to Give Them a High-Five Day. Also in March.
3. Call, email or text a friend or family member you haven't contact in a while. Tell them you just wanted to see how they're doing. Tell them you'll contacted them again on International Talk Like a Pirate Day and they better brush up on their Piratese.
4. Help someone along with their goals. If a friend is trying to get in better shape, go exercise with them. If a friend is trying to get a project done with their house, ask if you can help with something for the day. If a friend is trying to get onto a reality TV show, encourage that friend to find a new goal – preferably one that does not involve national embarrassment.
5. Smile more. Nothing encourages people more than to see those around them smiling. Except for maybe clowns. But that's a column for another "less-encouraging" day.
• Joe Grace is a writer and journalist who lives in Chicago with his wife. He encourages you to be awesome today. Don't disappoint him. International Talk Like a Pirate Day is coming up and he's not afraid to use it. Yar!
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