The Power of One Word
A single word can guide us back to our path when we have lost our way.
As you clearly know, I write articles. I also write books. I pour thousands of words onto pages of paper or digital media in an attempt to help people access their higher selves, create healthier relationships and walk a higher path through life; a path of love, joy, integrity and self-mastery.
A while back, I was at a tradeshow where I spent hours setting up my display. I had all of my books out, and several dozen rocks with individual words engraved in them like, “Love”, “Peace”, “Gratitude”, and “Namaste.” As the day wore on, I started to recognize a clear reality that was rather uncomfortable as an author: I was selling rocks with one single transformational word on them at a rate of about twenty to one over my books full of words. The next tradeshow yielded the same results. Mind you, the price wasn’t the issue as the rocks were nearly the same price as the books. It was then that I came to a haunting realization. One word carries as much, if not more, potential transformation than thousands.
Really, how many words do we need to read to remember to love? Is not “compassion” alone enough to remind us to be kind and caring of others? Is not “generosity” enough to remind us to give? Is not “courage” enough to help us overcome our fears?
Perhaps, a lot of words are particularly handy when we need to know how to be courageous or loving or giving, but once we know how, a single word can guide us back to our path when we have lost our way.
In the book Eat, Pray, Love, author Elizabeth Gilbert dedicated one word to define different cities giving London “stuffy” and New York “ambition.” She then challenged her readers to see if they could find one word to define themselves.
I invite you to extend this exercise to become self-observant periodically and define with a single word how you are feeling in any given moment. There is a clarifying power in taking the moment to identify the strongest feeling in and amongst several.
The other benefit of the defining the “one word moment” is the freedom to feel differently one moment to the next. Sometimes we get stuck in the labeling of our feelings saying things like, “I’m depressed” as if that is all we feel, all the time. By taking the time to pay attention to a single moment during which we may feel “happy” or “peaceful,” we have the opportunity to change our language to something more temporary like, “I’m feeling depressed right now.” This allows us to move quickly into a new and different feeling as the situation changes.
We can also apply this process to our relationships. Sometimes we get stuck in thinking our relationships or our partners are a certain way. If we become observant of the present moment and find the single word that defines it, we realize that sometimes our relationship is stagnant, sometimes close, sometimes intimate, sometimes distant. And our partners are sometimes kind, sometimes rude, sometimes thoughtful, sometimes distracted, sometimes loving. By realizing the constantly moving reality of the momentary one word definition, we can set ourselves free of generalized terms.
If you were to choose one word to serve as a reminder of who you are, or what you aspire to embody, what would you choose?
“In the beginning there was the word…”