Skip to main content

Definition of encourage

transitive verb

to inspire with courage, spirit, or hope: HEARTEN


One of the things we like here at I Like Giving is being generous with words. We want to use our words for good:

to inspire, to build up, and to give verbal high-fives.

We think that when we open our mouths, the first words that should come out are words like,

 “I like you” and

“Way to go!” and

“You are the best thing since deep-fried Twinkies!”

And deep-fried Twinkies are pretty great, right?

The Opposite of Encouragement

 I don’t know about you, but it seems to me like these days generous words, loving words, and kind words are in short supply.

Especially when it comes to the internet.

         The way words are shared on social media can be disheartening. Cyber-bullying. Name-calling. Online harassment. It happens. Every single day.

         Especially among young people.

         The Cyberbullying Research Center says 95% of teens use the internet. More than 59% of those teens say they have experienced some kind of harassment or bullying online.

Ever heard the childhood saying,

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”?

That saying should be quickly followed by the other favorite childhood saying,

“Liar, liar, pants on fire.”

Because words are powerful. Words can hurt our hearts.

         (Joshua’s I Like Giving story about bullying reveals just how deep those wounds can go.)

What people say about us and to us can shape how we feel about ourselves.

How we feel about ourselves can change the trajectory of our lives.

It is not just the words of online trolls that affect us.

The words of our parents,

our teachers,

and our friends can anchor us in either a place of hope or a place of despair.

I say, let’s go with hope.

Thomas Edison Gets It

Thomas Edison knew the power of words.

He struggled as a student in school. His teachers didn’t know what to do with him.

         They used words like “slow” and “addled” to describe him.

He only lasted a few months in school before he was expelled due to being “unteachable.”

His mom, Nancy Elliot, thought differently. A former schoolteacher, she proceeded to teach Edison herself.

         Her belief in him, her words of encouragement and hope, changed the trajectory of his life. (And ours – thanks for the lightbulbs, Mr. Edison!)

         She unleashed a wellspring of creativity and innovation in Edison. He was no longer defined by the words his teachers spoke over him.

His mom was generous with her words. She couldn’t have been prouder of him.

He was encouraged and buoyed by the words of affirmation that his mother surrounded him with.

Thomas Edison said,

“My mother was the making of me. She was so true, so sure of me; and I felt I had something to live for, someone I must not disappoint.”

Words of encouragement bring hope. They set us free to dream.

They heal our hearts.

Use Your Words for Good

         Let’s be the making of each other with our words.

                     What would the future look like if 100% of American teens were surrounded with words of hope and affirmation?

         What if instead of cyber-bullying, we went all-in on cyber-complimenting?

You know, dropping word bombs of encouragement in people’s feeds. Commenting with kindness. Liking and sharing instead of trolling and teasing.

We could change some folks’ life trajectories.

Maybe even unleash the next iteration of the light bulb…you never know.

Encourage…encourage…encourage…and then encourage some more.

         Your words matter.

They unleash hope.

They change lives.

         So, let’s get generous and use our words for good.

I bet Thomas Edison’s mom would be proud of us, too.


Susanna Aughtmon is a gifted writer, wonderful wife, mother, daughter and friend, and a valued member of the I Like Giving team.