Today we ask that you learn how to encourage.
Most of you are not taught as children how to be encouraging, to yourself or others.
You are taught with a system of “reward and punishment.”
The system of reward and punishment is highly effective for conditioning and indoctrination. You can get rats to solve mazes and dogs to salivate on cue with reward and punishment. You can train soldiers to carry out commands and kill enemies with reward and punishment.
But you will never help a human being to evolve and lead a fulfilled life with reward and punishment.
Reward and punishment is a system based on fear.
Encouragement is a system based on love.
Reward and punishment keeps people obedient to their tribe, culture, and society. It is opposed to change and evolution.
Encouragement promotes positive change and evolution beyond the limited boundaries of tribe, culture, and society.
Reward and punishment tends to be effective in the short term, but breaks down in the long term.
Encouragement will not give you a “quick fix,” but it will create long term, lasting change.
That is why systems of self-improvement based on reward and punishment almost always fail in the long term.
For example, diets undertaken under a system of reward and punishment almost always fail in the long term. The weight may be initially lost, but it will be gained back later.
Parents who lean toward reward and punishment as a teaching method may gain short term obedience, but in the long term will see that their children have difficulty thriving and adapting in a free and constantly changing and evolving world.
If you were raised in an environment that leaned toward reward and punishment, you will need to unlearn and undo your conditioning and indoctrination. This is entirely possible.
All you must do is learn to encourage yourself, and stop punishing yourself.
This means being actively appreciative of all the good things you do.
It means, telling yourself “Good job!” when you accomplish even the smallest of tasks.
It means, not screaming at yourself that you’re a failure every time you fall short of your own expectations.
It also means, not falling into the habit of “rewarding yourself for good behavior.” It means not saying: “I’ll give myself a treat when I do something good. Since I went to the gym three times this week, I’m entitled to that ice cream.” Ultimately, this will only reinforce your conditioning.
If you feel incapable of doing this for yourself, start with other people.
Learn to encourage your partners, children, coworkers, family members, and the people you encounter in daily life.
Learn to thank and encourage people for the good things they do.
Refrain from punitively attacking people when they fall short of your expectations.
While in the short term this may feel frustrating, and you may feel like things are not getting accomplished as fast as you want them to, in the long term what you will find is that encouragement is a much more effective method of working with people to create positive change.
As you do with others, you can learn to do for yourself.
If you are truly interested in positive change, you must transition from a system of “reward and punishment,” to “encouragement.”
This must happen on an individual and societal level.
But it starts with individuals. It starts with you.