I want to call your attention to Ch. 7 "Optimism and the Careful Choosing of Words." In this chapter, Telushkin describes how attentive the Rebbe was to language and the shaping of experience. For example, Telushkin notes that the Rebbe would not use "beit cholim" (hospital, translated in Hebrew as the "house of the sick"); rather, he would call it "beit refuah" (house of healing). Commenting on this, Telushkin writes: "...what becomes apparent is that the Rebbe's opinion on how to use words represented an innovative way of thinking and an anticipation, in part, and by several decades, of the discipline known as positive psychology."
I was delighted to read several examples given on how the Rebbe embodied and promoted the careful use of language. Indeed, the very words we CHOOSE to use, have the potential to create choice and possibility or condemnation and criticism, in ourselves and others. Our words can help or hurt, bless or blame, set in motion an experience of growth and gain, or spiral us to doubt and pain.
Choosing words that honor the essential self is not always easy, but there are actions we can take to cultivate awareness and intentionality of both our "self-talk" and the way we speak to and/or about others. The first thing we can do is notice if we make a disparaging remark and replace it with more gentle or neutral words. Mindful meditation and practices can uncover and attune us to unhelpful patterns of thought and language used. We can then choose to practice kind speech and see and feel the difference in our relationships, beginning with the relationship with self. As we practice speaking gently to ourselves and others, it becomes second nature. Tacitly, through example, we invite others to do the same because our choice of words have helped and may even be the genesis of a deeper healing and generative life-force.