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Ugly Words, Ugly Rice
Publish date: Jun 1, 2014
Summary: Harsh words and indifference are harmful.
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A friend sent me a link to a YouTube videoi where Masaru Emoto had recorded the results of an experiment he conducted with three beakers of rice. In each of the beakers, he measured the same amount of rice and covered the rice with water. Then everyday for a month he said, “Thank you” to one beaker of rice and “You’re an idiot,” to the second beaker of rice. He completely ignored the third beaker.
After a month, the “thank you” rice had a “pleasant aroma” and was fermenting. The “you’re an idiot” rice was ugly and black. The ignored rice had grown thick mold and was rotting. Emoto concluded that our words impact our environment and that the experiment had important implications, especially for how we treat children.
While the science behind Emoto’s study may be shaky, his conclusions about the importance of nurturing behavior has been verified by numerous other studies.
Understaffed, state-run orphanages in Romania in the late 1980’s produced children who failed to thrive. Although their physical needs had been met, the children were stunted and exhibited bizarre behaviors. The reason? No one had taken the time to talk softly to them or cuddle them. No one had shown these children love.
Social Support and Longer Life
For a long time scientists believed that looking after patients’ physical needs was enough. Better health technologies and better medicine, which science could provide, were the most important things. But researcher David Spiegel wondered what role, if any, social support played in surviving advanced stage 4 breast cancer. He randomly assigned one group of women to receive weekly support through group therapy for one year. The control group did not receive group therapy. Both groups were given standard cancer treatment. The results were impressive. He found that those who received the group therapy lived twice as long as those who did not. Obviously, state-of-the-art medical care was not all that was needed. Having someone to talk to made quite a difference.
In fact, one review of the scientific literature found that “social isolation itself was identified as an independent major risk factor for all-cause mortality.” In other words, people who are socially isolated and are not involved in relationships with others die sooner than people who have strong social support.
Wounding Words or Wellness Words
We need to know that others care about us. It’s that simple.
That being the case, it makes me wonder why we aren’t more supportive to one another. After all, it’s just as easy to say something encouraging as it is to say something critical. Why wouldn’t we use our words for helping and healing rather than for hurting and wounding? I guess some of us haven’t yet learned what many toddlers learn in pre-school: Words are not for hurting.
On the other hand, how many of us are guilty of inflicting wounds upon ourselves by the caustic, critical things we say to ourselves? Have you monitored your self-talk lately? Does any of this sound familiar? “I’m such a loser” or “How could you be so stupid?” or “I might as well face it; I’ll always be fat.” You might think your own critical self-talk is unimportant but maybe it isn’t. Many studies have found that avoiding pessimistic thinking and having a more positive, optimistic outlook is related to better overall health and longer life.
King Solomon seems to have understood the relationship between our mental state and our physical health when he penned, “A merry heart does good, like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones” (Proverbs 17:22).
Why not share a little love? You might not change the world, but you may very well change your corner of it and do your own heart and health some good.
● Be your own best friend: stop the negative self-talk.
● Say something good to others, or bite your tongue.
● Apply the golden rule: Do to others what you’d like them to do to you.
● Improve your social network: Join a club, make a new friend, go to church.
● Want a friend? Be one.
i. Masaru Emoto, “Masaru Emoto’s Rice Experiment,” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ehlw-9PJkIE (Accessed February 2, 2014).
ii. Spiegel D, Bloom JR, Kraemer HC, Gottheil E., “Effect of psychosocial treatment on survival of patients with metastatic breast cancer,” PubMed.gov, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2571815 (Accessed February 2, 2014)
iii. Maija Reblin and Bert N. Uchino, “Social and Emotional Support and its Implication for Health,” PMC, US National Library of Medicine-National Institutes of Health, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2729718/ (Accessed February 2, 2014).
iv. EHE&Me:Partners for a Healthy Life, “The Effects of Optimism, Pessimism and Anger on Health,” (EHE Newsletter, Volume 13, Number 22 May 29, 2013), https://www.eheandme.com/news_articles/549652445 (Accessed February 2, 2014).
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