I intend to keep my word, every moment of each day. I believe in the old adage, say what you mean, and mean what you say. And even the old do what you say you’ll do saying.
But life happens.
Make very few promises.
I remember when my eldest love was little – whenever unexpected circumstances popped up, like the time the weather prevented us from traveling or the time a schoolmate’s birthday party was canceled, she’d proclaim, “You lied!” and then proceed to tell me exactly what I had said and that I didn’t keep my word at all. She was right.
We must not promise what we ought not, lest we be called on to perform what we cannot. —Abraham Lincoln
And I vaguely recall now, the vows I repeated as I wed her dad. All of them said well before I knew of his own regrets, his inner struggles, his harsh words, and his anger. I didn’t keep my word, as much as it pained me – I changed my mind. And then I left. And I’m still glad of it, all these years later. Not keeping my word was right.
Better break your word than do worse in keeping it. —Thomas Fuller
Intend to keep your word.
It is important to keep your word, but it’s sometimes impossible to do. Such an oddity of life! That’s why I fully comprehend the old saying, easier said than done. That’s also why I’ve learned over the years to choose my words with care, with love. I don’t make promises very often. But I do make intentions. And I make them very clear.
All promise outruns performance. —Ralph Waldo Emerson
Intentions and promises are quite different. The beauty of intentions is that they speak to our hopes, our desires, and our dreams, regardless of what will be. A promise, one that could have been made, is really the manifestation of an intention. By focusing on our intentions, and making them clear to others, we can make good on promises, ones never even made.
Promise little and do much. —Hebrew Proverb
Honor your word, yourself.
Think well on your intentions. Do they honor your beliefs, your truth, you? Value your integrity. I once read that integrity is speaking the truth to yourself and honesty is speaking the truth to others. Do both. Choose your words carefully, with love. When we honor ourselves and others, even the worst of circumstances can bring about the best possible outcome.
Those that are most slow in making a promise are the most faithful in the performance of it. —Jean Jacques Rousseau
Remember that life happens.
The simple and hard truth is that life is impermanent, everything and everybody. And so too are your thoughts, intentions, words, and actions. The circumstances surrounding you, the intentions you make, change from moment to moment. Sometimes even our best intentions do not come to fruition. Things change – be understanding of this. You change – be gentle with yourself.
Promises are like the full moon, if they are not kept at once they diminish day by day. —German Proverb
Oh, and a word to the wise:
To promise not to do a thing is the surest way in the world to make a body want to go and do that very thing. —Mark Twain, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, 1876
I didn’t intend to get so quote happy today, but since I changed my mind, I can scarcely resist tossing in the humorous wisdom of Twain. I often keep him in mind as I make my mindful intentions. I appreciate a little happy mindful humor now and then. Don’t we all?
Do you make promises? How do you keep your word? Please share your wisdom. And please share this post with a friend. Many thanks.