Looking for inspiration? It’s everywhere.

I troll Pinterest for cute pictures of animals sleeping. Sometimes I will post them on other social media sites and when I do, these are inevitably the most shared posts. This is not a “how to bolster your online popularity” tip. It’s a simple fact. Apparently I am not the only person who needs a break from the chaos of life, even if it amounts to a moment of gushing over a cute animal.

I will go one step further and say that when I post a quote or share a story about something happy or uplifting, people seem to “like” it a lot. In fact, readers are often prompted to share these little tidbits with their friends and/or followers. Why is that? I’m no expert, but I have to believe that on some level it is because we are all hungry for something good. (I am not even thinking about Nutella right now. Promise. Oh, maybe a little.)

While scrolling through the vast sea of social media posts at my disposal, I came across something that inspired me to write this column. “Be an encourager. The world has enough critics already,” penned a man named Dave Willis.

You may wonder what this has to do with cute puppies sleeping with stuffed toys. I think the two are cosmically linked. Whether you offer a kind word, or find something smile-worthy to share, you are spreading encouragement. What starts with a few good quotes from the Dalai Lama may just roll into a few good words of your own. If you can take those words and shower them, sincerely, on people around you, you’ll find yourself amazed. You will actually feel better about you.

There are critics on every corner. Most of us are indeed our own worst critics. Just like that corny expression, “It takes more muscles to frown that it does to smile,” it actually takes an incredible amount of energy to be tough on people, even ourselves, much more than it does to be kind. Along with negativity, gossip or cruelty usually comes a heaping helping of guilt, angst or even fear. That bad energy, no matter where we direct it, does tremendous damage to us, too.

I see it everywhere – in businesses, within families, and I am guilty of it, too. I am not sure I understand the bizarre mental twist that gives me – or any of us – the idea that it is somehow easier to scrounge up a little criticism than to summon even a wee bit of encouragement. Being kind has an amazing effect: it is contagious to others. Kindness also feeds and waters itself from within. The more you share, the more you have.

Four out of five sleeping puppies agree. Take a minute to look at a few. They could not possibly be wrong. ♦


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