Who are the people in your life that have stirred up the good in you? What did they do to cause good things to happen in you and through you?

            Like you, I’ve had a few swizzle sticks in my life that have stirred up the good in me. When my ship stalls and I need wind in my sails, I find myself drawn to them again. Here are the five things swizzle sticks do:

Speak life

            A proverb states that the power of death and life is in the tongue. Words matter to us; they help or they hurt. People who speak positive, life-giving words stir up the good in people and in a situation.

Mark Twain said he could live for two months of the power of a compliment. Research proves that people enjoy a compliment far longer that they do a gift of money. I’m not talking about a generic, “oh, you’re the greatest person in the world,” compliment. Those mean nothing to us. It’s like having our mom wash our face with a dirty washrag; it only feels good to mom.

Speak life to yourself, too. Literally, say positive words out loud. That type of self-talk causes positive words to leave your mouth and be picked up by your ears, which send them to the parts of your brain that responds to encouragement.

Listen Well

            I once visited friends who suffered a horrible tragedy. I sat down on the couch at 7 o’clock one evening and, for the next four hours, simply listened to stories about their life. I never spoke one sentence, but just nodded my head or occasionally said, “oh my.”

            I said a brief prayer with them before I left and the man grabbed me and said, “Young man, I want you to know that every word you said to us tonight was exactly what my wife and I needed to hear. Thank you for talking to us.”

People who listen well and the power of a thoughtful question and you’ll be surprised how much good that stirs up in people rather than giving them advice. A well-placed question can help people clarify their own situation and provide their own path forward.

Make People Beautiful

            My favorite story in the Bible is about Esther, a queen who saved her people from genocide. Although the story has so many great elements, the part I like the most is the role of a group of ladies assigned to Esther with one purpose: to make her beautiful.

            Making people beautiful means we see the beauty in them and coax that out into the light.

            The flip side of that is true, too. Sometimes we have to point out the ugly outfit they are wearing. I once reacted in anger to a situation and my wife looked at me and said, “Anger doesn’t look good on you.” There was something powerful in that statement that altered my attitude. I don’t want to be ugly.

Dream Big With Them

            Dreams are powerful because they give us hope for the future. I have found that simple question, “where do you see yourself in five years?” stirs people up to dream big. And if you know someone that has had their dreams ripped from them with the loss of a job, a divorce or any other tragedy, perhaps you can help them dream again.

Be There

            There are few things more powerful than knowing someone has your back. Loyal people are valued above all else in our lives because we know we can count on them to be there for us. Simply being there for someone is a way to stir up the good.

            At this point, you have thought of a variety of people who have been a swizzle stick in your life. Perhaps you’ve identified people you know you’ve been a swizzle stick in their lives.

            Go. Stir ‘em up!