Did you know that September 12, 2017 will mark the 10th anniversary of the National Day of Encouragement? It started in Texas, where it was called the State Day of Encouragement. Former President George W. Bush signed a message to take it nationwide in 2007.

We need this day more than ever this year. We’re living through a tumultuous time: our country is more divided than ever. It’s tempting to observe all the conflict and anger and to feel discouraged. Here are five ways you can make a difference on National Day of Encouragement.

Reach Out to a Stranger

Make an effort to be nice to people you encounter during your day. Smile at people you pass on the street. Is there a mom struggling but keeping her cool as her kid has a meltdown in a store? Is the woman beside you on the bus wearing something that is unique, or particularly flattering? Was the service at the restaurant top-notch? Share your admiration and appreciation! It might feel a little awkward at first but it will get easier. Letting someone know they are doing a good job or that they look fantastic can be just the boost they need to get through the day.

Help a Friend

Most of us can think of someone in our life who could use a little help. Whether they are dealing with health issues, family problems, or have just been down on their luck, most people feel overwhelmed at some point. Think of a way, big or small, that you might be able to lift their burden. Could you drop off a meal? Offer to babysit?  Send a gift certificate for a dinner, movie, or massage? There are so many ways we can pitch in when a loved one is in need.

Anonymous Praise

The goal of encouragement is to focus on someone else and provide support. To avoid being a distraction, you could offer praise anonymously. Pick three people you appreciate (friends, family, coworkers, etc…) and make a list of all the ways they are winning at life. Seal the note without signing it and put it in a spot where they will be sure to find it. Whether or not you admit that you’re the well-wisher is up to you!

Be a Cheerleader

Do you know someone who is trying to get fit, eat better, or improve her life in some way? If so, take some time to show your support with a few kind words to let her know that her efforts inspire you. Without being intrusive, find out if there are tangible ways you can help. Offer to join her for a walk or for a trip to the gym, pick up fresh produce for her next time you’re at the Farmer’s Market, or just check-in regularly to see how she is doing and to cheer her on. 

Smiles and High-Fives

On National Encouragement Day, do your best to smile at every person you encounter. Say hello, be friendly, and do your best to spread positivity wherever you go. The energy you carry with you throughout the day makes a difference.

Warmth and kindness are sorely lacking in our lives right now so some people might be taken aback by your gestures. If they ask, explain that it’s National Encouragement Day and ask them to pay it forward. Keep the positivity going: make every day National Encouragement Day!