This past year my mind has really expanded about the power of our words. Here is a family home evening lesson to help teach this concept to your family. We used it last night. Our children are ages 14 and older, so if your children are all younger, you may want to skip or paraphrase Elder Holland's counsel into words that fit their ages.
Step One: Crushing chips activity.
Sit in a circle and pass the first bag of chips. When each person has the chips, that person says a put down to the bag of chips as if it were a person, and squeezes the bag at the same time, before passing it onto the next person. Invite everyone to pay attention to how they feel hearing a couple rounds of negative put downs.
Then pass the second bag of chips, except this time treat it gently like it was a person very special to you, and say a compliment. Invite people to pay attention to how they feel hearing a couple rounds of positive compliments.
And then ask what did people learn from the chip activity. Here are a few questions you may ask:
- How powerful are words that we speak to each other? To ourselves?
- Did anyone feel a difference between the negative and positive comments?
- What if people said, "I was just kidding," would the put downs still crush the chips?
- Can you tell from the outside if your comment crushes their chips inside?
- Do you think it's possible that your comment, good or bad, might make a big difference to a person considering committing suicide?
Step Two: Watch two short videos and ask family members to share their thoughts afterward.
This video is Hillary Weeks sharing an experiment she did showing the power of words with two jars of rice.
This video is a famous experiment done by Japanese scientist Dr. Masaru Emoto about the power of words on water crystals.
Step Three: Share what Elder Jefferey R. Holland said about the power of words, and ask for family member's thoughts.
"...Words are sacred, and must be spoken with care...
"...Some things we say can be destructive, even venomous—and that is a chilling indictment for a Latter-day Saint! The voice that bears profound testimony, utters fervent prayer, and sings the hymns of Zion can be the same voice that berates and criticizes, embarrasses and demeans, inflicts pain and destroys the spirit of oneself and of others in the process. “Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing,” James grieves. “My brethren [and sisters], these things ought not so to be.”
"...negative speaking so often flows from negative thinking, including negative thinking about ourselves. We see our own faults, we speak—or at least think—critically of ourselves, and before long that is how we see everyone and everything. No sunshine, no roses, no promise of hope or happiness. Before long we and everybody around us are miserable.
"Speak hopefully. Speak encouragingly, including about yourself. Try not to complain and moan incessantly. As someone once said, “Even in the golden age of civilization someone undoubtedly grumbled that everything looked too yellow.”
"I have often thought that Nephi’s being bound with cords and beaten by rods must have been more tolerable to him than listening to Laman and Lemuel’s constant murmuring. Surely he must have said at least once, “Hit me one more time. I can still hear you.” Yes, life has its problems, and yes, there are negative things to face, but please accept one of Elder Holland’s maxims for living—no misfortune is so bad that whining about it won’t make it worse." (The Tongue of Angels, Ensign, May 2007)