Thursday, March 26, 2009

The power of words.

Most of us have heard sayings and quotations about words. Words are just labels and yet they have the power to change your life. Often as a young teen, I would say hurtful things to my mother and actually end up really hurting her. She did try her best, but her best was never good enough for me. She was never as good a cook as my friends mother, or as good a teacher as my teacher or as well dressed as my neighbor. I always had something to pick on her.
I never did realize the power of my hurtful words till I heard something on similar lines from my daughter.

Life has a way of giving back. Just yesterday she said something like “mummy everyone thinks you are pretty, but they never see you in the morning when you wake up !!” I thought it was rather funny and pretended to laugh it off but when I thought about it, it actually bothered me. I thought about how I used to say things to my mother with the intention of hurting her. I thought that my daughter was purposely trying to say something to hurt me. Maybe hurting me was not her intention, but I took it as such and I started a whole debate on how she was being disrespectful and hurtful. She is still very young, so I don’t think her intention was to hurt me, but I already started thinking about when she would become a teenager and say things that would hurt me to no end. All this is going on in my own little brain and I have no proof that it will happen, but here I am thinking about how my daughter would behave towards me after 4-5 years. Is that warped or what????

This might sound a bit smug, but I think I have done a bit more research on child behavior and child psychology than my mother did. So instead of telling my daughter about the power of words and how it affects people, we did a little experiment. I had read about Masaru Emoto’s water experiment and how the water reacts to words. ( Google Masaru Emoto…if you don’t know about it). I saw the video and was quite fascinated, but being the skeptic that I am, I had to see the results for myself. I think I must have read somewhere about the rice experiment and decided to check for myself if it was really true that what we say has an impact?

The experiment goes like this.

Take two or three jars/bottles/Tupperware. On one jar write, I LOVE YOU, on another write, I HATE YOU, and if you have a third, write IGNORE. ( I made my daughter do that)

Next take boiled/steamed rice and put equal amounts in each jar. Cover the jar and say out what you have written on the jar, so to the jar that says, I love you…say with love..I love you and to the one that says, I hate you …say with emotion..I hate you and the one that says ignore, just leave it somewhere where you may not see it and just ignore it.

Do this every day for about a week to 10 days . The results will blow your mind.

In our case the Jar which said ‘I love you was all white with very few green fungus bits, The jar which had I hate you written was all black and green and the ignored one was the worst, it was all fuzzy and mouldy. We could hardly see the rice.

Exactly same content, same environment, the only difference being the written word and the thought given to it. If words can do this to rice, imagine what they can do to us and to our life.

So now I had ammunition to show to my daughter. As she was the one who had done the writing, it was really her experiment. She immediately understood how what she said had an effect on people. No she has not become mother Teresa and neither have I, but we are now a bit more aware and conscious of the words we speak and the thoughts we think.

My mother used to always tell me… “if you have nothing nice to say, don’t bother saying it at all.” But did I listen?

Well, I guess it is never too late to start

Save the best for last!!!!!

Yesterday I gave my daughter some chocolates. She quickly gobbled up a few and kept her favorites one for later. I asked her why she had kept her favorite one and had the ones she did not particularly like? Her reply was “ Mummy, I am saving the best for last.”

I think I did exactly the same when I was young. In fact my mother used to do the same and I suspect her mother and grandmother did the same. Some where somehow in our psyche we have been programmed to save the best for last.

I’m not sure where this belief originated and whether it is the right thing to do or not? But it got me thinking…. Why do we save the best for last? What if that last was too late?

I remember a beautiful set of china in my house which always stayed neatly packed . I asked my mum, when we would use it? She said it was for a special occasion and that it was rather expensive, so we had to be extra careful with it. The result was that we never ended up using it. It stayed neatly wrapped occupying space in the cupboard. I left home when I was 20 and sort of forgot about it. When my mum passed away,iIt came upon me to sort out her stuff (Stuff that she had collected over years and that was neatly wrapped in tissue and plastic) I saw the expensive china dining set and with great trepidation opened it. It was beautiful, but it had gotten stained! It had never been used and yet it had gone brown and showed very fine cracks. I saw it and cried and cried.

Maybe it was not that special after all!!!

What would have made it special would have been the memories associated with it. The occasions that would have been termed special just because we chose to make them special . What if we had used it just for fun? Just because we wanted to celebrate the fact that we were all together. We never realized that just being together and being alive was reason enough to celebrate. I don’t think it was my mother’s fault and I don’t blame my grandparents either. It was just the way things were. It was all a part of conditioning based on fear and lack.

Most of us keep waiting for a special moment when things will begin to feel special. We put happiness on hold in anticipation of a better tomorrow. We keep our best linen and our best china neatly wrapped in anticipation of a special moment. The special moment when I get that promotion, the special moment when my child graduates, the special moment when !!!!!!


Why not make every moment special? According to Buddhist teaching, death is definite, but it’s time is uncertain. So why not rejoice the moment of life and stay prepared for the moment of death.
I know I have digressed a long way away from the irresistible chocolate and why my daughter wanted to save it for the last. But a seven year old getting conditioned in the theory of “saving the best for the last was definitely not something I wanted to encourage.

At the same time I do not wish to imply that we should live a nihilistic lifestyle with no regard or appreciation of the future. We all want to savor what we like for as long as we can, but we do not need to go through life waiting and wanting. In our waiting and wanting we forget to appreciate the moment and fail to realize that every moment is special and that every piece of chocolate has a distinct yet pleasurable taste.

Ironically, my daughter lost her favorite chocolate. My dog realized it was something rather special and very appropriately found his salivating mouth all over it. Inara was inconsolable, but in this case I had a few extra chocolates and I very quickly replaced the one that had found its way into the dogs belly, but often in life we do not get chances to replace what we lose or to make up for moments that could have been special but we did not think they were.

So go get that beautiful china out, lay the table with your best table cloth and decide to make every moment a special moment.

Next time someone offers you, your favorite chocolate, grab it with both hands and thank the makers for that irresistible smooth creamy taste. Start living in the now and revel in the abundance and not in fear and regret.