The words we use say a lot about us. They suggest sloppiness and laziness or precision and order. They underscore what’s important to us.
Are there words that mean something special to you? What words excite you? What words do you aim at incorporating into your life? What words guide you?
Word #1: Think
In the frenzied and hurried life that we often find ourselves living, we sometimes fail to slow down long enough to do much thinking. Our thoughts are hand-me-downs, washed, dried and ironed things that are permanently creased or tattered and worn out. Or they sit dusty on empty shelves, stiff and rigid with neglect.
It’s time to dust off your mind, put it into gear and begin a new love affair with thought. Thought is the seed to action, the conduit to innovation and improvement and opportunity.
Set aside daily time to read and think and write down your thoughts. Start book of thought, a journal you record your best ideas in, or a computer file you collect your most cogent thinking.
Approach reading as you would an autopsy. Have scalpel in hand. Underline. Take exception. Explore. Consider. Dissect. Integrate. Write down ancillary thoughts that come to you as you wrestle with a new ideas.
Read books that challenge your assumptions, that take you into the world of new ideas, that give you something worthy of thinking about. Read history, psychology, sociology, science, religion, philosophy. Make truth the integrated goal. Try not to limit yourself to one genre or topic. Expand your mind. Open it. Explore its potential.
But when you read, don’t read to finish. Pause regularly to have an ongoing conversation or debate with the author. Never approach a book worth reading as you would a sprint. The only finish line you should aim at is insight. Someone who reads 100 books and picks up an insight or two is infinitely poorer for their time spent than someone who reads one or two books and picks up 100 insights.
Word #2: Believe
Belief is a powerful motivator. It can keep us going against all odds, when everything seems stacked against us. It can keep us on our feet when everything inside us wants to quit, give up and lie down.
Believe in the miraculous. Believe in your ability to make something beautiful of the dark and painful circumstances of your life. Believe you have something of the eternal and divine within you. Believe you are destined to make a difference.
When we believe our destiny is filled with opportunity, we do different things than those who believe life is meaningless and arbitrary and indifferent—or worse, malicious. We act differently. We treat each other differently. We plan and take risks and set trajectories differently.
But never believe a destiny is ever handed to you on a silver platter. Destinies are not made that way. They are worked for and sacrificed for and sometimes bled for.
The belief that you can create the life you desire will more likely produce the motivation that gets you out the door, busting your butt, getting to the daily work of fashioning the circumstances you want.
Word #3: Hope
Hope is the ignition key to everything you do. It is the motivation behind the start, pushing us into initial action, the first step. It has no hard evidence. It hasn’t matured into knowledge or even faith or belief yet. It is the softer than that.
Not wholly passive, but not quite dynamic. Still, it is enough for movement. It is the spark, the flicker, the reason anything is first pursued. Hope is why I started blogging. It’s the dream behind the vision behind the action that drives me forward doing what I do.
Hope is the taste at the tip of the tongue that causes pages to be turned, lives to be changed, innovation to be explored, faith to be tested and steps to be taken.
Word #4: Love
What do you love? What do you love most? Would someone who doesn’t know you be able to tell what you loved most if they followed you around for a day? If not, why not?
The more you love, the richer your life will be.
Love life. Love people. Love your family. Love your neighbor. Love your enemy. Love what you do and do what you love. Love truth. Love decency. Love learning. Love personal growth. Love action. Love contemplation. Love the ability you have to influence others for good. Love the words that empower you to live closer to your God-given potential.
Love is what makes work a calling. It’s what turns drudgery into passion. It changes attitude and circumstance. It’s why people step up and why they commit and are loyal to an idea. A loveless life is a life filled with darkness and pain. But first seek to love. Extend it. Build it. Share it. Once you have injected love into your life, love will return to you as well.
Words start movements and revolutions (“We hold these truths to be self-evident”). They inspire love and faith and devotion to a cause (“I have a dream”). They cause us to stand tall and speak up and overcome.
But too often, they become shallow and hollow, deprived of the resonance of meaning and commitment. But this, like most of life, is a choice we make.
May the noblest of words find themselves echoing in your heart, stirring your soul, expressing your desires, reflecting your thoughts and reinforcing your resolve.
Words matter. So choose and use them wisely.