Thursday, June 14, 2012

Lesson Learned

During my journey to clean up my language, I did learn something very cool...

Because I was committed to my language being corrected, I found it impacting my general behavior. For instance, one day while driving, I was upset about something, and said one of the words I committed not to saying. The second I said it, I caught myself and all of a sudden, I also found myself being able to catch my general mood and calm myself down. It helped me basically, "awake" from my anger and I was able to tell myself to calm down and see things a little different. It was pretty eye opening. After reflecting about this, I have made a realization - When we try to control things from the "top down", or from a general principle level, we often fail because it is too overwhelming (too many things fall apart like dominoes and can't easily be controlled). However, if we work backwards, we can often put the pieces back easier. In other words...

If I want to improve my patience, that is a big word and can include and impact many things. It is too hard to recognize and control at a high level - in a word like, "Patience". However, if I pick out the symptoms/effects I display for my impatience (such as my language), I can make the goal to control my REACTION to my impatience. That, in turn, will awaken my mind to recognize I am being impatient and help me self-correct. This is a cool idea.

The trick is to figure out how to identify other areas of improvement and work on them as well.  Anyway, just an interesting observation I made during my journey.

A Eulogy to Bad Words

A little more than four years ago, I sat in a group of people I knew and just listened to their conversation. For some strange reason, I wasn't doing any talking and just sat listening. It struck me that the language we have learned to accept was not what I was proud of. Even without the traditional curse words, our language is still quite crude and unsophisticated. The worst part is that our language is beginning to hurt our ability to communicate and tends toward the extreme and exaggerated.

I then spent a few days after that thinking a lot about words - particularly words I use. One of the conclusions I came to was this: that when I think about all the great people I know, especially the ones I view as great spiritual examples, I have made the observation that all of them have a few characteristics in common:

1) I never catch them saying negative things about others


2) They don't use bad language.

So, I resolved to at least try and fix the second item. On April 10, 2008, At the age of 33, I began my journey towards clean, wholesome, intelligent language. I wrote the below eulogy to begin that journey...


I would like to say good-bye to the following words, never to say them again, for the following reasons:

1) Retarded - I know too many wonderfully innocent and good mentally handicapped people to use this word anymore. Typically people use this as an insult, as to call someone stupid or to mean that something is dumb. Retarded is not dumb, it is a real and saddening reality and handicap for many people. I forever pledge to say good bye to using this word in a negative connotation.

2) Damn - well, it's a curse word and I use it sometimes, even just for fun. I can't see my most respected examples using that word.

3) Hell - same as Damn. I need to use this as it was originally intended only, as the name of where bad folks go when they die.

4) Crap - this is a hard one. I mean, what will I substitute this with? But, I must. it is a childish word that is a cheap substitute for another poo-related curse word. Ugh, this one will be hard.

5) Pissed - wow, I actually hate this word, but occasionally have used it. No more. It's crude and inappropriate.

The way I went about ensuring that I followed this was to 1) tell everyone I could about it 2) put a large rubberband around my wrist and snapped it hard on the underneath side every time I made a mistake.

After a while, I was making progress and decided to add these three additional words:

1) Freaking, Freakin', Freak, or any derivative of those words - I know this one may seem kind of lame, but honestly, those are pretty immature and unrefined words. So, out they go. Time to leave my teenage language behind.

2) Shut Up - I have actually been pretty good with this one for a while, but I want to totally eliminate it. It is a harsh way of talking and i don't want my kids saying this. This statement encourages the idea that people shouldn't be allowed to or just shouldn't say anything - I don't want my kids believing that the way to solve what we don't want to hear is to simply tell someone to shut up.

3) Suck - this one is a particularly bad one. It is a harsh sounding word and I just don't like it. I don't use it very much, but from now on, no more.

I worked hard on this for about 6 months until I had completely removed all 8 of these words from my language. Obviously, the ones I used the most commonly were the hardest (Crap, suck, Shut Up, Freak, etc). But it worked. And to tell you the truth, I can still communicate how I feel and what I think, and I don't miss those words at all. I see no need to use those words any longer. And there were other great effects from it as well - check my next post about it.