There was a lot of ... funk ... going around in the office today. Very little of it was related to work. A lot of it had to do with sick family members, or martial discord, or challenging children. Yes, there was some yucky work stuff, but there were a lot of unhappy people in there, trying to get through the day.
You might think, well, that's all baggage that should be set down at the entrance to the office so that people can get down to the business of, well, business. That's what work is about.
You wouldn't be entirely wrong.
However, if there is a really wonderful thing about my office environment, it's that everyone supports each other like mad. I had a coworker once tell me that the company is a family, and that often feels true; the degree of helpers and friendliness and a willingness to give you a hand or a hug when that's what you need is quite wonderful.
It makes everything better, and it makes it easier to struggle through another day.
Which is what made me think about discouragement in general. The word discourage literally means "to cause someone to lose confidence or enthusiasm." I think of it as losing your joy. Losing your joy in family, in the moment, in your work, in your life. Feeling discouraged.
But then I remember that the word discourage? Contains the word "courage." It's brave, I think, to keep plugging along when you can't find your joy. It's a courageous thing, when you're struggling, to help someone else out. It's a superhuman, amazing effort...
....and I watched it happen all day.
People who one minute were telling me about their fears for an ill family member spent the next getting tea and giving hugs to someone who's adult child is refusing to speak to him. Someone who is having major problems with the details of a project willingly advised someone else who was struggling with staffing. All day long.
I hate it, by the way, when we are dismissive of all of the kinds of bravery that is needed to get through in this world. I see social media posts and memes that suggest that unless you have a fatal illness or put your health and life at risk in uniform, you lack courage. That simply isn't true. There are all kinds of bravery required to get through your time on earth. You need courage to speak your truth. You need courage to live as honestly as possible. Some days, you need courage just to get out of bed.
And you need courage to reach out past yourself to take the hand of someone else when you're so far from your own joy that you can't even see it, and to offer comfort and kindness.
The discouraged people that I saw today are brave as hell, and I am honored to know and work with them.