Keeping Words Plain and Simple

“Where words are many, evil is present.” – Solomon

There is great power in words. Words have the ability to build up or tear down. They can make a friend or make an enemy. They can break hearts or mend them. They can spur others to action, begin movements, and change the course of history.

And they impact our lives nearly every day. Words can simplify or complicate. They can bring us freedom in our relationships or bind us to them. They can make laying our head on the pillow at night a peaceful experience or a stressful one. Simply put, our words determine the direction of our lives.

The impact of words on simplicity in life cannot be overlooked. To find simplicity, our words should stay in one of these five categories:

  1. Kind words – Kind words build others up and foster self-esteem. They turn worry into joy and fear into optimism. They hold the power to change the course of another‘s life and ultimately change the course of ours. There are few things in life more pleasurable than brightening someone‘s day. Mother Teresa had it right when she said, “Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.”
  2. Gentle words – One of the greatest lessons we can ever learn is that a harsh attack does not require a harsh response. In fact, a gentle word has the power to break through anger and completely remove it. When someone is unkind to you, try responding with gentleness. Sometimes, it requires more courage, strength, and control, but it always holds more power.
  3. Pleasant words. Pleasant words are light, free, and enjoyable. They brighten rooms and faces. On the other hand, unpleasant words carry weight, cause irritation and stir up negativity. Pleasant words encourage learning. If you want to truly influence others (including your children), use pleasant words as much as possible.
  4. Honest words – Honest words communicate value and love. They refuse the low-road of empty flattery and choose the high road of trust and commitment instead. But to be effective and simplifying, honest words must be matched with honest intentions. And remember that it is always easier to be honest about another than to be honest about ourselves… choose both.
  5. Wise words – Wise words are based in a deep understanding of people, things, and situations. They require the ability to listen, clarify, understand, and choose correctly. And they are more essential than ever! Never miss an opportunity to speak wisdom into the life of another. And never miss an opportunity to accept wisdom being spoken into yours.

Words play a powerful role in our lives and in the lives of others. We would be wise to choose them carefully.

Joshua Becker

About Joshua Becker

Writer. Inspiring others to live more by owning less.
Bestselling author of Simplify & Clutterfree with Kids.

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  1. says

    I never used to think much about words chosen until I had kids. Once you watch the effect that a simple spoken word has on your child’s face (both good and bad) it really makes it clear how big of an impact words have.

    I remember one of my psychology professors saying “Your words literally CHANGE your child.” It’s up to us to decide if we’re helping to change our child negatively or positively.

    Thanks for the post.
    – Faith

  2. says

    For funny words, think Ellen Degeneres funny, not Joan Rivers funny. You can be funny without being harsh. People may laugh at more of what Joan Rivers says, but Ellen Degeneres is a more widely liked and respected person because she respects others.

    Anyway, great post, Joshua. I think words are important and deserve to be carefully considered. I try to be kind, gentle, pleasant and hope I’m wise, but I’m always honest. That’s something, I suppose.


  3. says

    Very often our words shape our reality. They come together and create a certain attitude or viewpoint. They are also how we influence the attitudes of others.

    Great piece – I love it!

  4. says

    Words are extremely powerful. Like Steven says, they shape our reality. Once you make a decision to do something, it’s power helps you achieve that. For example, when I made a decision to sell everything I own to travel the world indefinitely, everything started to fall into place because I made a powerful decision to do so. Without those words and the meaning behind it, I’d fall into the routine of daily life and my dream would be washed away.

    • Pamela says

      That’s a perfect way to explain it, Bernice! There are so many times that I have let my mouth out run my self-control. The damage is already done. You can try to “repair” with an apology, but you can not “un-do” what is already done.

  5. Di says

    I was very much touched by #2 Gentle Words, especially when you said “a harsh attack does not require a harsh response.” Unfortunately, my first natural response is to instantly react rather than mindfully respond to words or a situation. I am working on being more mindful of this habit of mine and responding with gentle words. I would like to be the sort of person whose “gentleness is evident to all” as Paul says.

  6. says

    Wow — liking this. Just came to you through Everett’s simple guide to being minimalist. Surprised you didn’t mention something like ‘spare words’ — the least words required to get the deepest message across. Overlaps nicely with Wise words… :)

  7. says

    Properly applied, this post can have a great effect on a person…

    Words often shape the course of our lives, emotions and thoughts… Words also reflect a set of beliefs of a person, and by using kind, gentle, pleasant, honest and wise (*and funny*) words as you said, we can dramatically increase the quality of life, experiences, behaviors and actions…

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