Today in the US polling places are filled with people who are going to make history with their votes. We’ve been inundated for months with opinions of every person with a computer, phone or video camera. Who should win this election? What are the issues that matter most? Which issues are being underrepresented? Everyone has an opinion and sadly, it seems like it has brought out the worst in so many. It happens when people feel violated. It happens when people feel unseen and unheard. It happens when people are scared. Regardless of what happens, the sun will still come up in the morning. The hands on the clock will move forward. Your neighbor will still be your neighbor. So today our intent is to speak kindly.
You too? Here are some things to help:
Not every thought we have needs to be spoken out loud. We know that may be hard to believe. But words, like the feathers of the proverbial pillow, have a hard time being gathered back up and replaced once they’ve been set free. Before rushing to say everything that pops into your mind, make sure you’ve heard clearly and correctly. Consider whether your opinion helps or hurts the situation at hand in this very moment. Not sharing something doesn’t make you less right. Sharing something doesn’t mean you are right at all. Today, choose to think twice before speaking.
Think of the bad day.
There are roughly 7.5 billion people on this planet right now. That is 7.5 billion people with 7.5 different upbringings, different day jobs, different routes they traveled to work today, different hours of sleep they got the night before. Before being harsh or seeing someone as a speed bump in your day, consider the possibility that this my be the worst day of their life. Imagine what you would want from a friend, family member or even a stranger on the worst day of your life. There is significant power in being able to empathize and maybe kind words are the unexpected solution to a bad situation. (We love this commencement speech by David Foster Wallace where he encourages us to see the people who frustrate us as complete humans with experiences we don’t fully understand, instead of roadblocks or hindrances.)
Think of what you’re making.
The words we speak are making something. They are building things up or tearing things down. They are strengthening and affirming or they are weakening and destroying. Some things in our lives need to be torn down and some need to be built up so, you decide your intents and the future you are trying to create. If it’s a world that’s a little more peaceful, a little kinder, a little softer, then do you part in your tiny corner of this earth to create that. Create that by choosing kindness when you speak. Choose it by letting your words matter every time they come out of your mouth. Because those words have weight and they give life to things that you may never fully grasp. Words of encouragement have encouraged the underdogs of our world to achieve amazing things. Words of discouragement have torn down many a brave and hopeful human. What are you making?