The Mindfulness of Words

The Mindfulness of Words

Words are the path to human understanding and progress - By Silvia Barro Stones

Reading time: 2 minutes

Words are a passion of mine, having been attracted by them since quite a young age. We are surrounded by them our entire life: we see them, we hear them and we think of them.

I grew up in Italy and moved to England in my very early 20s, I could speak English but my dexterity of it was limited – the dictionary become my best friend: every time I heard a new word, I wanted to understand it and assimilate it; it was the days of pre-internet, so my bilingual ‘Collins Pocket Dictionary’ came with me everywhere. I knew that if I wanted to be able to live in this new country without feeling like an outcast, I had to master the language as much as I did in my own native language. And so I did.

Why do I like words* so much?

Words are the most powerful tool that us human beings perhaps take for granted. Words are like the howl of a wolf, the squawk of an eagle, the roar of a lion, the whistle of a whale and the purr of a cat. Words put together form the spoken or written language which allow us to communicate an imaginable account of information.

It is actually mind-boggling if we think about it: these sounds that we amalgamate together can arouse countless emotions, reactions and behaviours; they can form love stories or start wars, they can create euphoria or deep sadness, they can reassure us or frighten us.

Taking all of this into consideration we must truly and actively understand how essential it is to use words appropriately in our everyday life. If we take this thought to a wider sense, we can think of the Dalai Lama’s words, “The best way to resolve any problem in the human world is for all sides to sit down and talk”.

I am a great believer in non-violence: we do not have the fangs of a wolf or the claws of an eagle or the teeth of a shark, we, as I said above, have words. The quotation tells us to “sitdown and talk”, yes talking sitting down – by talking while sitting down we are giving our time to the interlocutor, to the person we are conversing with, we are in a more relaxed posture and state of mind, we are open to discussion and understanding.

Words hold energy too – positive and negative. Words can be like phenethylamine in chocolate which stimulates us positively like an anti-depressant: when we use kindness and encouragement in our communication, we stimulate positive reactions which will consequently make us feel good affecting our behaviour accordingly. However, words can be like an atomic bomb which act as destructive and obliterating when they are used with indifference, intolerance and hatred.



Therefore, it is important that we are mindful with words towards others and towards ourselves. There are ‘magic’ words in every language: the words yes, glad, thank you, we, try, beautiful, excellent, hope, love are amazing when used regularly, when we actively decide to use them over their opposites. Those are words that are poison: no, give up, terrible, useless, never, hate, ugly, boring are demoralizing and limiting words that distance ourselves from others, that deplete our self-esteem, that close options and give us a low, bleak, lost feeling.

It is enough to look at children: those who grow up in encouraging, open-minded and empathic families are the children who normally grow into rounded and resilient adults; those who grow up in discouraging, narrow-minded and apathetic families are the children who usually grow into adults with low self-esteem issues, fragile and untrustworthy.

Therefore, if you haven’t already, starting from today take a conscious decision on how you want to use words towards yourself, others and life in general. Not all of us are in a position where we can change the world peace with great, important gestures and resolutions, nonetheless we can all input to society by being simply supportive and tolerant.

Like Mother Teresa said, “Love begins by taking care of the closest one” - if we don’t nourish ourselves with positive words, how can we nourish others and the world?

Be mindful to show love and appreciation towards yourself by installing self-confidence through kind words to yourself, this will fill you with joy and calm; then you will be able to pass it on with the same type of words to your loved ones and the people you meet, in return they will be able to do the same. It is a chemical reaction or a circle: at the end all the kindness expressed through your words and given to others will come back to you through a much more peaceful, tolerant and appreciative type of life and world.

Don’t hold back in giving compliments, don’t judge hastily, it is magical when you see the smile that encouraging and caring words produce on others. At times you will meet people who will react negatively or will misunderstand you, but don’t lose your spirit, carry on because even these individuals will unconsciously benefit from you.

Believe in the power of words for a better future, where social progress is based on communication, understanding and acceptance.

So, I want to say, ‘Thank you, to you whoever you are and wherever you are for reading my article, you don’t know how happy that makes me feel!’

Cherish words!

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