Hen featured The Four Agreements in his last post – one of which is to attain impeccability of one’s word. This chapter really resonated with me. However, I may rename this post to Be “Impeccabl” with Your Word, because it is a huge expectation. Not sure I can get all the way to Impeccable — honestly, I’ll be happy to just get close.
Being true to one’s word is a pervasive theme in ethics and philosophy. The focus is not just on veracity, but also taking care with what one says, avoiding gossip and snarky comments, etc. Word is bond. No trash talk. Loose lips sink ships.
In Greek philosophy and theology, “word” (logos) is an elemental concept: “the divine reason implicit in the cosmos, ordering it and giving it form and meaning”, according to the Britannica. ‘Word’ describes the essence of a thing. To know the essence of a thing and express its name is powerful. In some cultures there are ‘true’ names that are never revealed to others just for this reason. So impeccability is important. It drives home the tidiness of thinking and the economy of speaking that is the product of careful consideration. It presupposes an internal discipline and a firm foundation of guiding principles. It requires clear vision. It’s the sort of condition that one does not expect to be born with – rather it is the hard won product of survival, lessons learned, and dexterity of mind.
So, impeccability of word also implies impeccability of actions and choices.
In this connection, I learned a new word: Eudaemonism. Apparently, Aristotle defined the state of eudaemonia as ‘living and doing well’ and felt that this condition was associated with achieving virtue or excellence, requiring virtuous activity. In the Greek sense, virtue is a bit broader than the moral context, but rather focuses on achieving perfection in one’s pursuits: impeccability. Aristotle set a high bar!
I like the definition in Wikipedia:
“Eudaimonia [sic] as a self-discovery, perceived development of one’s best potentials, a sense of purpose and meaning in life, intense involvement in activities, investment of significant effort, and enjoyment of activities as personally expressive, deep relationships”
To me, this sounds like a worthy goal and the work of a lifetime. When I think about all the words I wish were never said, my stock is going down: perhaps I can only hope to attain “Impecc” of Word after all.
The Power of Your Words
Thank you Wal for continuing this conversation. Of all the issues, bumps, and causes for sleepless nights it’s often words said or unsaid that are at the root cause. Ruiz gives us a comprehensive look at what is involved in being impeccable and, I agree, achieving a portion of impeccability is all I can hope for. However, I believe that this is what the author intended. By making an agreement with ourselves to maintain a level of awareness about how we use our word, is the goal. Setting an expectation of mastering it to perfection is to set us up for yet another disappointment.
I have often thought about the concept Ruiz brings forth about gossip. As I understand it, not only is it inappropriate to talk negatively about others with those who would listen, but to talk about others for any reason, without their presence is still gossip. So, I find that although I choose to follow his intention about using my word only for positive intention, I have excused myself from the label of gossip, when I speak positively of someone who is not present. And therein, lies my challenge. That is, too often we modify definitions of words to suit our needs or present behaviors: an excuse to avoid the hard work of changing old habits. While I don’t feel this excuse I’ve granted myself is an example of this, I am conscious of how easy it is to make my own rules. Just a thought among many thoughts…
While the heart is arguably the most powerful part of the human body, a friend of mine would argue that it is the mouth. He contends that what comes out of our mouths can do enormous good or extreme damage to not only ourselves but to countless others. I dare say he was right.
I am being impeccable when I say how much I am appreciating each of you, George and Wal, for creating and sustaining this journey.
The Appeal of the Snark
Wal, as I was reading this a couple of thoughts came to mind and a couple of reactions came to heart. The first thing of course was what an admirable concept this is and how we should all strive to achieve it. Then my heart sank– no “snarky” comments? Damn– I didn’t even exist in teenage society ‘til my snarkiness matured. That was how I got noticed, laughed at and with by the rest of adolescent society. It was the only way I could fit in, impress and have a personality. To this day, snarky comments comfort me like a warm blanket as a bastion of protection, a wall paper to protect me, and make me prettier than I feel.
The impeccability of my word comes when I make a promise. If I say I’ll meet you at 2, I’ll be there at 1:45, totally willing to wait ‘til 2. I don’t think I have ever missed an appointment and was ever late. But then what about the little white lies we tell when we know they aren’t true. “You don’t look a day over 50,” if you could erase those crow’s feet around your eyes and grow a head of hair again. Is that impeccability? It makes the other person feel good, which is admirable but in reality you look like Hell. Would that be impeccable to say that to him? It wouldn’t seem very nice! Here’s someone I can finally quote…..Thumper’s Mom said, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all!” Maybe even here I am being snarky, but impeccability of words requires the good with the bad……and to what end? But I digress! By the way, you and Hen looked like young stallions today!