In our media-driven and Facebook-obsessed society, it’s easy to forget the awesome power of words. Words have enormous power to hurt or to heal, to make or break reputations, to uplift or degrade another human being. In this way, the words we speak literally change the world and how we view the people in it. Here are ten ways to improve the world and ourselves through channeling our power of speech for the good.
I grew up in a home that honored many rituals, some admittedly more sacred than others. Monday night was Mah Jong for Mom and her girlfriends; Wednesday night was bridge for Dad and his friends. As a season ticket holder for UCLA basketball and football games, Dad attended every single home game for both teams with a religious fervor that our synagogue rabbi could only dream of inspiring in his congregants. Some years he even followed his beloved Bruins on the road for championship play-offs. Friday night dinners were special because it was Shabbat, so we ate in the dining room, not the kitchen. And if it was New Year’s Eve, it could only mean one thing: Mom’s annual surprise birthday party.
Here’s a powerful idea from Jewish tradition that I first heard many months ago from Rabbi Noach Orlowek, a renowned Jerusalem-based educator. In a talk he gave about true happiness versus false happiness, Rabbi Orlowek explained that the Hebrew letters that comprise the phrase “to think,” (machshava) are the same letters that comprise one of the words for happiness (b’simcha).