Recent events caused me to start thinking about the following quote by Buddha:
"When words are both true and kind, they can change the world."
The quote is written on a beautiful hanging on the wall across from my desk. (It was a gift from an amazing friend and colleague of mine, Michelle Lebowitz-Goebel.)
I decided to change the quote in the subject line of my blog to provide more clarity on the brilliant insight of Buddha. I first emphasized in capital letters the word 'both' because it is important to realize that if you want to have a positive impact on the world, then you need to understand that there are two requirements for doing so.
First, you must speak KIND words to others. I am reminded of the saying, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me." We can choose not to be hurt by others speaking meanly to us. However, when it comes to people we love, it may be very difficult to do so. It may even be nearly impossible.
Second, you must also choose to tell the TRUTH. But that doesn't mean you have to speak the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. We should choose instead to speak the truth in such a manner that reduces the chances of another person feeling hurt or upset or at least minimizes the level of pain they will feel.
For example, if someone asks you what you think of their work which you don't think is good, then you can respond by saying, "It is not bad." Imagine how their response would differ if you stated instead that it was "crap." Using that word would be mean, instead of being kind to the other person. You can also think about how you would feel if you had 'walked a mile in their moccasins.' In other words, you could try to imagine how you would feel if you had truly experienced their life. Would you rather hear that your work was not bad or crap?
It is especially important to follow this advice with the people you love. Why?
Because they are more sensitive to your words, especially if they deeply love you as well.
It is also important to realize that our thoughts are what lead us to choose our words or lack thereof. In other words, our thoughts create our reality. What you may not realize is that our thoughts actually hurt others even if we don't speak them. The thoughts actually become projections that negatively affect others. For example, those thoughts are presented through our body language. People can pick up on your thoughts and feelings in various ways.
Basically, the cause-and-effect logic is that thoughts lead to feelings, thus resulting in our words and actions. Our feelings are what trigger our choices about words to say or not say and actions to take or not take.