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What's in a word?

STRENGTH. BREATHE. FAITH. COURAGE. SINCERITY. HOPE. FAMILY. TRUTH. PEACE. FORWARD. PATIENCE.  Those are just a few of my more recent "personal words".  I am a firm believer in the power words have in our lives.  They impact us on a daily basis irregardless of our acknowledgement of them.  We process them, make decisions based upon them, subconsciously accept or reject them, file them away in our dreams, recall them, communicate our wants and needs with them, we are judged by them and we make our own judgements based upon them. 

I have many books with good words on the shelves of my home.  I love reading and discussing what I have read with others.  I would never discount those words, they have been powerful resources in my life.  Yet, most of them remain unread by my children or visitors to my home.  There are other words in my home - on my walls, on my refrigerator,  on a piece of jewelry -  that are often seen and shared with those very same people.  I was surprised not too long ago when a friend of mine introduced me as "a woman who loves words".  I'm not sure why I was surprised by that description, it certainly is a fact, I just hadn't considered it being that integral a part of who I was.  As I thought about this over the next several days I realized there were others who knew this about me as well.  They may not have ever stated it in such a matter of fact way, but they let me know when they handed me a favorite quote of their own scribbled on a post-it note or sent me words framed as a gift for Christmas. One thing I was sure of was that I had never had a conversation with any of them about "words" -  I decided that perhaps they too had experienced the power of words and were familiar with this "secret" peacemaker. 

It only takes a split second for the mind to register the words it comes across any given moment.  As a result, I am careful to make sure that the words I place around me reflect not necessarily where I am at as much as where I want to be.  There is a definite peace that comes through acknowledging our desired destination through the words we surround ourselves with.  And, unbeknownst to them, we recruit those who come in contact with us (and our words) in the effort. In my home those words come in many forms.  I have posted some of the more recent ones here.  Some change each week or month and others, those I want continually in front of me and my family, may stay for years.

If we are going to surround ourselves with powerful words, it's important to remember this applies to the spoken word as well.  We should hear good words the majority of the time from the people we surround ourselves with.  These people need not be perfect.  None of us are. However, they should be headed in the right direction most days.  This includes the lyrics, television, radio, and social media we expose ourselves to.  It is not too far a stretch to say that there are those of us whose "word input" may come more from those sources on a daily basis than from family, friends, or co-workers.  In fact, if you are having a particularly bad day, consciously stop and evaluate the words you have been processing, either of your own making or the making of others around you - you will be amazed to discover that the majority, if not all of them, are negative.  Simply changing the "conversation" created in your head by those words will dramatically change the course of the rest of your day.

If words are truly going to impact peace in your life you are going to need to be willing to give a good word.  Not only does this strengthen and uplift those around us - we gain personal peace knowing we have honestly given power to someone else simply through our good words. This piece of the good word challenge is more difficult.  Because it requires conscious effort on your part.  It also will bring the most dramatic results for the very same reason.  I'm not telling you to run around passing out "good words" willy nilly (...don't we all know someone who annoys us by doing exactly that?) They are not sincere and as a result they really are not "good" words.

When I began to really work on giving good words to those around me I decided to take the "safe" route and try people that I didn't really know but came in contact with several times a week.  The clerk at my local 7-11 and the clerks at my local grocery store were the beginning.  That year I gained great compassion for those who come to our country to work hard and find success, I also came to appreciate my citizenship and rights that I have often taken for granted.  I also came to admire people that were living through the challenges of losing their wife just before retirement was come, working full-time while their husband was waiting for (and later receiving) a liver transplant, and yet another trying to make ends meet as a single mom with two daughters during a tough economy working at a gas station.  She recently told me that her oldest daughter would be going to college on a full scholarship and that she was ready to go back to college herself.  I left cheering for her and her family. 

I only know the first names of these individuals and yet my two minute conversations with them a couple of times a week over the course of several years now has impacted my life and perspective in ways no others could have. Had I simply paid for the service each of them rendered and left without a word, all of those people would have still been there-- I just wouldn't have had the blessing of having them impact my life.  I know this is not an easy thing for many to do.  Do it in spite of that fact.  Start with step one below and then quickly give step two a try...all in one week.  

Step 1.     Start by simply finding a quote that moves you or a word that when you hear it gives you strength and/or focus  (trust your instinct - you probably already know the word you need) then simply put it someplace you will see it.  Add to it or change it up each day or week or month...whatever works for you. This is easy.  Don't complicate it. 

Step 2.      Finally, share a good word.  Say "Have a good day" or "How's your day?" to the clerk at your local gas station or grocery store.  "Thank you" to the person who let you pass through the door first.  "Nice job" to the spouse or child who did an expected daily chore.  This step is more difficult for many in the beginning because it really does need to be a sincere (albeit simple) good word.  It is an effort well worth it though.  Do it for selfish reasons in the beginning if you must justify the effort.  Because simply making the effort puts you in a position to better find peace in the chaotic world around you.  You will be consciously searching for things to acknowledge (gratitude in action) - and they will miraculously appear all around you.  I can promise this. 

Given some time and practice these simple steps will become second nature.  You will come to love good words as they enrich your daily life and bring you peace.  You will find beauty in them as they adorn your personal space.  Be fearless (a great word by the way).  Let us know how you do.  Share your good words here.  Comment on your successful (and less than successful) attempts at conversation. Because this forum really is all about the words...

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