The old saying “The pen is mightier than the sword” is testament to the true power of words. While there are many ways to influence and inspire a person, few are more effective than a well chosen anecdote or piece of advice.
Reddit user AWWWshetz asked a question on the AskReddit Subreddit, and the responses collected are a list of occasions when words were so powerful, they literally changed lives. These nuggets of wisdom really strike a chord, and we are sure there are a few in there that will inspire you too! Scroll down below to check them out for yourself, and upvote your favorite ones! (Cover image: Pablo Manriquez I Facebook cover image: whatleydude)
I was 13 years old, trying to teach my 6 year old sister how to dive into a swimming pool from the side of the pool. It was taking quite a while as my sister was really nervous about it. We were at a big, public pool, and nearby there was a woman, about 75 years old, slowly swimming laps. Occasionally she would stop and watch us. Finally she swam over to us just when I was really putting the pressure on, trying to get my sister to try the dive, and my sister was shouting, "but I'm afraid!! I'm so afraid!!" The old woman looked at my sister, raised her fist defiantly in the air and said, "So be afraid! And then do it anyway!"
That was 35 years ago and I have never forgotten it. It was a revelation -- it's not about being unafraid. It's about being afraid and doing it anyway.
"Don't be a d*ck to your dog. He's a few years of your life, but you are all of his"
I met a person who was in a wheelchair. He related a story about how a person once asked if it was difficult to be confined to a wheelchair. He responded, "I'm not confined to my wheelchair - I am liberated by it. If it wasn't for my wheelchair, I would be bed-bound and never able to leave my room or house. "
My mom was dying. A friend told me "you have your whole life to freak out about this-- don't do it in front of her. "
It really helped me to understand that my feelings are not always what's important. It IS possible to delay a freakout, and that skill has served me innumerable times.
When I was 38 I contemplated beginning a two year Associates Degree in Radiography. I was talking to a friend and had almost talked myself out of doing it. I said "I'm too old to start that. I'll be 40 when I get my degree." My friend said "If you don't do it, you'll still be 40, but without the degree." I'm nearly 60 now, and that degree has been the difference between making a decent living, and struggling to get by.
When I was young and having what I thought was a serious relationship talk with my first real SO, I told her that I just wanted to find the right person.
Without missing a beat she said, "Everybody is looking for the right person, and nobody is trying to be the right person."
That stopped me in my tracks.
A friend of the family's five year-old child died in a freak accident, where the father had just left the room for a minute to go to the bathroom, and the child climbed on top of the TV, and it toppled and crushed him. The family was in pieces, and the father undeservedly blamed himself for the death of his child. I remember telling my dad, a stoic man who has only said he loves me maybe three times in his life, that this is a reason that I don't know if I want children. I don't think I could handle something like this.
His response was: Even one minute with you in my life is worth whatever pain I would feel if you had died.
To hear that from him really showed me how strong that bond can be, even if a parent doesn't show it openly, and changed my mind about wanting children.
"Think of a time you were embarrassed, easy right? Now think of a time someone else was embarrassed. It's a lot harder to do isn't it?" I don't really worry about being embarrassed anymore if no one but I will remember it!
After getting rejected by a bunch of colleges in the same week, my dad (who is a writer) said "I was rejected by Stanford three times, and now my books are in their library. You've got to be better than them."
As a child, my duty was to empty the dishwasher.
I was something like 10, that day. I was always trying to do that fast, so I had more time to play SMB on my NES.
Only my dad was home, gardening. I grabbed the coffee pot that was in the dishwasher and it slipped off my hand, to broke loudly in pieces on the floor.
I was ashamed and afraid of my dad's reaction. Like a lot. He was (and still is) a nice guy, but for me it was like a big mistake, and for my child brain, this pot was worth a lot of money. He would be mad.
It took all my courage to go see my dad and tell him, but I did. I was almost crying of shame, while still having the handle of the pot in my hand, as a proof.
My dad, calmly looked at me, and said "Breaking something happens when you work, that's ok, don't worry".
It's silly, but I think of that almost every day. It's okay to make mistake, at least you are trying to do something.