Do you enjoy listening to the radio? It is not often that I miss ‘Thought for the Day’ on Radio Four in the morning and one day not long ago the speaker opened the three-minute reflection with the sentence ‘Friendship and hospitality are so important to our wellbeing.’
Wellbeing and mental health are current topics in newspapers and magazines and on Facebook. Recent research has shown that, wherever we are, one in four people is coping with ‘feeling low’ for a whole array of reasons ranging from the onset of illness, loneliness and tiredness, through to redundancy or loss of any kind.
I was concerned to read that the latest figures published by the NHS show that one in every 18 pre-school children has a mental health disorder, one in 10 at primary school and one in seven in secondary school; then, in adulthood, an average of one in every six.
Anxiety and being worried from time to time are a part of normal life but I have found that friendship, a listening ear and thoughtful words from a friend or even a stranger can be a real help in preventing that anxiety developing further.
Tucked away in the Proverbs book of the Bible is the suggestion that: ‘‘Anxiety weighs down the human mind but a good word cheers him up.’ And: ‘A word in season, how good it is.
’ I hope that you, like me, have experienced your spirit being lifted by another person’s encouraging words such as ‘Good morning’, ‘Thank you’, ‘Have a nice day’ or ‘You look great in that!’
A magazine article entitled ‘Living on Purpose’ tells of the author’s intention to be a ‘cheer leader’, a person who intentionally encourages people and shows an appreciation of others. She wrote, ‘This means that wherever I am and whoever I am speaking to, I hope to be somebody who leaves a person feeling or doing better because of our time together.’
Encouraging words can make a person’s day and could make a huge difference to their wellbeing .I was reminded of how welcoming and cheerful many people in our village community are when a couple told me of how amazed they were to be greeted with a smile and the greeting ‘Hi! Good morning’ when they first moved here. Where they had moved from, few neighbours spoke to each other. The couple are so happy that they and their children have made their home here. ‘A word in season, how good it is!’ is so true.
The writer of Psalm 119 shares how helpful God’s word is to him – it is as important as a lamp is to guide him in the darkness, it brings strength and renewal. God’s word is so important to him that he ‘hides it in his heart’. He certainly feels better for it!
Let’s be thankful for those people who have a cheerful word for us, and then pass it on just like that popular saying ‘If you see someone without a smile, give them one of yours!’