I have a file where I keep a collection of pithy quotes that I want to remember. One of my favorites is:
THINK before you speak. Ask:
Is it True?
Is it Helpful?
Is it Inspiring?
Is it Necessary?
Is it Kind?
I spent a few minutes tonight trying to determine where it came from. Several sites attributed a shorter criteria to the Buddha. “Before you speak be sure that what you say is True, Needful, and Kind.” I suppose that just about covers it. It is nice if what you say is helpful and inspiring. It is critical that it is true, needful, and kind.
So many situations in life would be improved by remembering these things. So often we talk as if we were talking to ourselves. We don’t stop to think that others don’t have the benefit of our perspective. Words are such a treacherous medium. It is extremely hard to say exactly what we mean and just as easy to mean one thing and say it in such a way that it can be misconstrued. And in my experience, anything that can be misconstrued, will be.
The other side of the coin is to listen carefully to what people say. Try to see if they really mean what they said or if they were trying to communicate something else and misspoke. Don’t assume malice when ineptitude might explain what was said. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification before you allow their words to hurt you. And, if you discover that the hurt was intended, be quick to forgive.
That is the advice that I aspire to follow. I often fall short of that aspiration. But I acknowledge my failings and resolve to do better the next time.
Sweet dreams, don’t forget to tell the people you love that you love them, and most important of all, be kind.