Words Matter

“If you don’t believe in carefully choosing your words, think of the difference between, “You look like the breath of spring” and “You look like the end of a hard winter.” 

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about New Year’s resolutions and some things I’d like to work on. I’ve settled on a few tangible goals — running a half marathon in a decent time this spring, downsizing my stuff, that sort of thing.

But I’ve also decided to focus on something that can’t be measured or tracked: I want to take better care of my words.

I’d like to think that I have a healthy respect for the power of words. If I didn’t, I probably wouldn’t have my job. But I’ve really noticed lately how hurtful words can be. Whether an intentional insult, a disrespectful interaction or a misguided attempt at teasing, words have power to do tremendous damage. That includes not only what we say to others, but what we say to ourselves. If we constantly tell ourselves (or others) horrible things – even in jest – eventually we will find truth in it.

So this year I want to be more deliberate in choosing my words and thoughts – towards myself and others –  utilizing the three gates of speech: Is it true; is it necessary; is it kind. I truly believe the world would be a better place and everyone would feel a whole lot better if this was a universal filter.

Side note: The above photo kind of illustrates teasing to me. Do you see a grumpy face? A drooling face? Do you think it’s funny? Do you see anything at all? No two people will see it the same way. The real answer? It’s oil, dirt and ice melt in the cracked concrete of a parking garage. The rest is up to interpretation. And not all interpretations are good ones. 

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