Be careful with your words…

September 14, 2021

Pastor Freed used this quote today in his blog, Jack’s Winning Words – “Lord, keep your arm around my shoulder and your hand over my mouth.”  (Unknown)

Also today’s quote of the day from a site that I get a daily feed from had this quote –  “To be careful with people and with words was a rare and beautiful thing.” (Benjamin Alire Sáenz)

Both contain great advice about watching what you say, or at least being more aware and careful about it.

Freed went on to write about his Swedish Uncle John admonishing a then sassy child to  “Tyst med du!” which meant, “Be quiet!”, in Swedish.

Sáenz related a story that he had written about a child named Ari who’s father came back from the View Nam war a changed man, seemingly uncommunicative and very careful with his words. Ari came to appreciate his father’s careful choice of words when he did speak.

We should all be more careful about what we say, instead of just blurting out the first things that comes to mind. Maybe that is why we need the Lord to keep his hand over our mouths. Invariably, when I stifle the urge to blurt something out in reaction to an event or person, I quickly realize how inappropriate, or maybe even hurtful, it would have been to let that thought fly out of my mouth. Does that ever happen to you?

I have noticed the trait in some people to give thoughtful consideration to what they are about to say and the words that they will use. President Barack Obama was one of those people. If you watched him closely, you could actually see that he was considering the words to use when answering a question or making a statement. I suspect that some of that was his legal background.

Being careful about what you say, and about the words that you chose to say it, requires the discipline to stop and think before using your mouth. People may think of you as being deliberate and that is a good thing. Spontaneity is a good thing if you are cheering for a great play in sports; however, it can be a dangerous thing if you engage your mouth before engaging your brain in response to someone’s question or statement.

The book of Proverbs in the Bible is a rich source for advice about our words –

Proverbs 15: 1 “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but hard words stir up anger.”

Proverbs 15:4 “Gentle words bring life and health; a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.”

Proverbs 18:20 “Words satisfy the soul as food satisfies the stomach; the right words on a person’s lips bring satisfaction.”

Start your day by adding the line from Jack’s Winning Words to your prayer and imagine throughout the day that the Lord has his hand on your mouth. Take time to think before you speak, and the Lord will remove his hand. Bring satisfaction from the words that you let slip during the day.

I can see clearly now…

December 11, 2020

That headline was an opening lyric from the song made famous by Johnny Nash –

I can see clearly now the rain is gone
I can see all obstacles in my way
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind
It’s gonna be a bright (bright)
Bright (bright) sunshiny day.

The quote used in today’s installment of the Jack’s Winning Words blog made me think of that song. Jack used – “Some things are just better left unsaid, and I usually realize that right after I say them.”

That quote got me to thinking about things that would have been best left unsaid and deeds that should have never been done. I suppose we all have some regrets for things that we have said or done, or maybe things left undone or unsaid. It is much easier to clearly see things like that in retrospect than to have the personal discipline to do or say the right things as events are unfolding.

The important things it to recognize life’s mistakes, forgive yourself for them, learn from them and move on with life. I hope that by learning from them, one avoids repeating them. As for the things that we say, one has only to look to Proverbs for some good advice on that –

 “Evil words destroy one’s friends; wise discernment rescues the godly.” (Proverbs 11:9).

“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but hard words stir up anger.” (Proverbs 15: 1)

“Gentle words bring life and health; a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.” (Proverbs 15:4)

One of the things that the quote in Jack’s blog highlights is that speaking without first thinking is what usually gets us into trouble. Blurting out a response or a thought that pops into your mind, without pausing to give it some thought often leads to regret.

The best advice might be always to pause before you speak or respond to give your mind the time needed to consider what you are about to say. There are many reasons not to say something, not the least of which is to consider if to might be hurtful to someone else. There is never a good reason to say something that would hurt someone else.

Maybe we should all wear a little wristband with S-T-S on it for Stop, Think, Speak. That is much better than what today’s quote would put on that wristband – S-T-R (Speak, Think, Regret). If we all did that perhaps the words from the famous Frank Sinatra song, My Way, would apply – “Regrets, I’ve had a few, but them again too few to mention.”

Stop and see clearly before you speak.

Change your world today…

January 11, 2017

“You can change your world by changing your words.”  (Joel Osteen) – from some time ago on my favorite source of inspiration, the Jack’s Winning Words blog. 

I don’t recall what Jack said about this little quote at the time, but I knew that I wanted to save it and write something about it later. I’ve posted here a few times about attitude and how having a positive attitude can change things in your life. The words that one chooses to use can both spring from that attitude and impact it at the same time.

It may seem to you to be a simplistic view of life that your words matter so much; however,different beliefs if you choose to use upbeat and positive words to describe the things and people around you it will reinforce your positive attitude about life. If your words are harsh or critical, things will look a lot darker around you. People might start avoiding you, because they don’t want to be dragged down by your words or they may approach you in an argumentative way, because they find your words to be offensive or hurtful.

It may take a conscientious effort to choose to use positive and upbeat words, rather than just throw out the first words that come to mind; but, after a while, you will notice that the words of encouragement and thanks and praise come more naturally. It also requires more thought about the way the words that you use are received and perceived by those with whom you are speaking. I was recent sent a link to an article on the use of words in business for use as an educational topic at an upcoming referral network group meeting. The article was entitled Phrases Smart People Refuse To Use In Conversation by Dr. Travis Bradberry. One example from this article demonstrates how the words you use about the same topic can be taken by the listener as either hurtful or positive.

Bradbury wrote this about the words not to use with someone who has lost weight –

“Wow, you’ve lost a ton of weight!” Once again, a well-meaning comment—in this case a compliment—creates the impression that you’re being critical. Telling someone that she has lost a lot of weight suggests that she used to look fat or unattractive.

Instead say: “You look fantastic.” This one is an easy fix. Instead of comparing how she looks now to how she used to look, just compliment her for looking great. It takes the past right out of the picture.

You can see how even an innocent comment that is meant as a compliment can be taken the wrong way by the listener. So, it’s not just positive vs. negative words that one needs to be concerned about, but rather how all of the words that we use to try to communicate will be received.

obamhaUsing the right words requires attention and concentration. One of the aspects that I most admired about outgoing President Barrack Obama is his very measured, thoughtful and precise use of the language. You can tell by watching him speak that he is carefully choosing the words that he uses to make sure that they get his points across in an unambiguous manner. Let’s all hope that the incoming Tweeter-in-Chief can indeed “act Presidential” as he claimed during his campaign and do a better job of communicating his thoughts when he has to use more than 140 characters.

So, resolve to take the time and make the effort to choose your words more wisely and to use positive and upbeat words wherever you can today. See if that doesn’t have a positive impact on you and the people around you. Your words can paint a picture of you as EeyoreSnoopy joy the sad donkey in Winnie the Pooh or as the happy, dancing Snoopy in the Peanuts comic. Which would you rather be perceived to be?

Speak happy, be happy!  Change your world today.

The power of words…

August 22, 2014

From a recent post on Jack’s Winning Words – “There’s a great power in words, if you don’t put too many of them together.”  (Josh Billings)

I certainly agree with the power of words and enjoyed doing the series that I posted here on “Three Little Words”. I have the problem of using too many words most of the time. I sometimes call it the Thomas Wolfe syndrome. Wolfe was a major novelist of the early 20th Century who wrote very length and wordy novels. I’ve seen reviewers who words wordswrote that Thomas Wolfe never met a word that he didn’t like and want to use.

I’ve also had some feedback that some of what I write is like encountering a “wall of words”; so, I’ve tried to place a few cartoon pictures into the text for the amusement of those who need visual; stimulation. Like Wolfe, I enjoy the flow and turn of words strung together well, sometimes perhaps too much.

But, enough on that. The power of today’s little quote is learning to say something profound and meaningful in a few words and then letting it alone to sink in. Saying “I love you”, for instance does not need to be accompanied by a lengthy explanation. Just put it out there and let it sink in.  Saying “I forgive you”, does not require a rehash of whatever it was that you are now forgiving the person for having done.

There is a fine line between being perceived as profound and being taken to be a know-it-all blowhard. That line is not drawn in the sand it is made up of the many words floating in the air that the blowhard uses to tryGandhi to impress others.  Great thinkers and leaders seen to have that ability to say things in short, very quotable sentences and phrases that live forever. Google the quotes of people like Mahatma Gandhi or The Dahlia Lama or Martin Luther King and you will see a great many quotes of very short length but huge meaning. Almost all iconic inspirational sayings that wind up as posters on people’s walls are short, yet tremendously meaningful.

So, as we head into the weekend, focus upon being abler to say what you mean to get across in a few words that will have more impact. You may wish to start with the two little phrases above, or perhaps questions like “How can I help?” Whatever you do; try to heed the advice that you may have already heard that when someone asks you what time it is, don’t try to show them how smart you are by telling them how to build a watch.

Try to be  profound, not profuse in your use of words. Have a great weekend!