Do you ever feel like George Bailey in It’s A Wonderful Life? As though life just hasn’t worked out according to your dreams, as though everything you’ve tried to accomplish has seemed to fall just short? Does everyone else’s “highlight reel” on Instagram or Facebook makes your life look like mediocrity in grainy black and white by comparison? 

The truth is, most of us feel that way at times. At least I know that I do. How about you?

 The staggering increase in the suicide rate in this country (up 30% since 2000) points to the fact that a LOT of us face massive internal struggles with feelings of futility, failure and hopelessness. Undoubtedly, the causes of that increase are being studied by many, but it cannot be a coincidence that the rise in social media and inherent comparison has grown exponentially over that same time period. While people appear to be more “connected” than ever (what was your screen time last week?) many feel more personally isolated than ever before.

Perhaps a simple antidote when battling those swells of negativism is to take some lessons from good ‘ole George Bailey and remember: “No man is a failure who has friends.” Look at your own life (not someone else’s) and the people you have touched, the relationships that you have nurtured and that you cherish. Think about the continuing positive influence you can  have on others. Unlike in the world of finances, with people “past performance IS often a predictor of future results!” If you’ve been a blessing and encouragement to others in the past, you will continue to be in the days ahead! 

 Don’t let age make you feel like you can’t continue to make a difference. You can visit and reach out to those who are alone. Even if you can’t drive, you can write cards, notes and letters! And if you can’t see to write, you can still make encouraging phone calls. You can hug and affirm those you love. You can even write to those you don’t know, like prisoners. Most importantly, you can always pray for others and their needs.

 If, life-to-date, you haven't spent much time building others up, today is a perfect day to begin. It's never too late to make a difference in another person's life. You don't need money, status, good-looks or intellect. When you see the impact you can make, you'll be hooked!

 Do you have an “Encouragement” or “Sunshine” file where you save affirming notes, cards and emails you have received over the years? If not, please, please start one today! 
Recently, I’ve been doing a deep dive into my embarrassingly out-of-control email inbox. My goal for 2020 is to establish a new habit of getting to “inbox zero” at the conclusion of each business day. (Yes, I believe in miracles) But first, I need to deal with the messages that have been building there over the last five years. (Go ahead and judge me. It’s gross.)

 What have I realized? While I have read a few emails that are painful reminders of broken dreams,  those messages are vastly outweighed by many messages of encouragement and gratitude from readers of blog posts or those who have been inspired by letters sent or received and from those participating in a Leave Nothing Unsaid workshop. Re-reading those messages has been fuel for my soul to continue to write and share the message of Leave Nothing Unsaid. 

 I’m also reminded of the difference that our encouraging words can make to others. I’m determined to slow down enough to write more notes. To tell those who have made a positive impact on my life what I value about them. To leave nothing unsaid to those who matter most. I hope you’ll make that same commitment, too. Let’s make 2020 the year we truly encourage one another! 

“Therefore, encourage one another and build each other up, just as you are already doing.”
1 Thessalonians 5:11

If you are wrestling with self-destructive feelings, please don’t be ashamed and minimize or ignore those feelings.  Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Don’t battle alone.