Updated: March 6, 2019

Wisdom is often described as the ability to accept two seemingly contradictory ideas, as each true in their own way. Words matter and we can learn to make them work for us.

Language paints the horizon of our emotional experience. It can be the determining factor in how we see ourselves, and in how we define and understand the details of our lives.

Language and words almost always critically translate into thoughts and feelings, thoughts and feelings which seem so intricately and intimately connected to who we are, to our sense of self. But we choose the words we use and can adjust our relationships to our own words, thoughts and feelings.

So often we get attached to our words and thoughts, forgetting that what makes us unique, human and whole is that we are far more than our passing (even if terribly painful) thoughts and words.

Mindfulness and mindful living help us find the spaces between those painful words and thoughts. By grounding ourselves in the moment, it can help us work through grief about the past and help us face fear about the future.

A cleansing centering breath can help us (in spite of pain) reconnect to blessings now, and help us cope to live consistently according to our values. During this mindful breath, this sacred pause, we can try to detach or defuse from the fear or trauma that certain thoughts and words are causing (and the stress of the avoidance of that fear and trauma). We can live with ourselves in our mindful moment as the overwhelming thoughts and words pass.

Having just asserted the benefits of disconnecting from certain thoughts and words (the yin of looking at the process and attachment to words and thoughts), one can also find benefits (the yang) from reconnecting to other words and thoughts that may stimulate better coping and increased acceptance.

In mantra meditation, a sound or word with some inherent spiritual meaning serves as a cue. Mantra meditation and mindfulness meditation are different types of meditation, but in my opinion any personalized individualized recipe for coping, happiness and recovery that can lead to acceptance, compassion, wisdom, meaning and purpose, should allow for multiple menu items or hybrids that co-mingle.

So with the help of some of the people I serve and work with, I generated a list of mindful words (a list that no doubt has been done before, and one that could and should grow indefinitely and infinitely, realizing that many people may have mindful words in common, but that no two people would likely want the exact same list).

Ways to use mindful words

    • used as a source to choose a mantra
  • used as a menu of words that may have meaning and/or offer hope: words which could trigger a mindful pause, which could trigger a defusion from more toxic thoughts and words, and which could redirect a person’s focus to a safer healthier happier place. Even words that seem “negative” like SADNESS and FEAR could help people face and deal with harder feelings and thoughts. And other “negative” words such as ANGER could serve as a warning flag or cautionary trigger for people who struggle with those issues.

List of mindful words


Chuck Weinberg is a clinical social worker who through direct care and education, works with veterans and mental health providers to try to help achieve optimal recovery outcomes. He believes that mindfulness can be a key ingredient for both receivers and providers of mental health care, in the development of the therapeutic relationship and in the formation of an evidence-based process.

image: Pixabay