We have put all those principles to the test in our home, and I can tell you that statement is true. Sarcasm didn't make it on the list; but I have to wonder if that's one for our family to add.
At the beginning of November, I attended a 3 Key Elements self-improvement seminar with a friend. We had a fun and insightful three days together. (It could have been condensed to two days, but I'll leave my review out of this post.) One of the ideas they presented that has stayed with me is the power of words. Words thought, written, or spoken. Words can create or destroy. I can use words to rewire my thinking and thus my life.
The presenter (and the president/founder of the company), Kirk Duncan, did a show and tell for us of an experiment he did, similar to Dr. Masaru Emoto's rice experiment. Kirk added rice cooked from the same batch to two glass jars. He applied a strip of tape to each jar and labeled one of them "love" and one of them "hate". He held the "love" jar and thought love toward it. Then he put the lid on it and stuck it in a dark corner in his office. He thought hate toward the other jar, closed it, and kept it next to the first jar. He then showed us a picture of the two jars taken a few weeks later.
|I couldn't find Kirk's photo online, but it looked basically like this.|
I decided this would be a powerful object lesson for my next Family Home Evening. I cooked up a couple cups of rice and brought the family into the kitchen. They helped me scoop rice into two jars. Then I handed one jar to #3 and asked her to tell the rice that it was stupid, she hated it, or any other negative comment she could come up with.
"What?" she asked.
"Just do it please," I asked, which earned me a a few this-is-weird-and-maybe-Mom's-finally-lost-it looks.
Finally, #3 held the jar near her mouth and said, "I hate you." It was the most unheartfelt hate I've heard from any of my children in a long time. But at least she was complying. I asked her to pass the jar to her sibling, explaining that we would each say something negative to the rice.
Kent, seeing where this was going, chimed in. "Won't the other rice overhear us?"
"Good point," I said, and rushed the innocent little jar to #2's room where it could sit peacefully behind a closed door.
The family passed the hated rice around, growing increasingly convincing in their negativity. They were having fun with this! Then I popped a lid on the jar, labeled it "HATE", and tucked it away in a kitchen cupboard.
I brought the as-yet-neutral rice out and asked everyone to give it love, handing it to #2...who is 17 years old. She raised her eyebrow at me, like she couldn't believe I was still insisting we all talk to food. But she also complied--sort of. "I love you rice," she said. Then she brought the jar's mouth right to hers and in mock whisper added, "Just kidding. I hate you." Argh! Haven't my kids
"Come on guys, just be nice to the rice and then we can go back to the family room," Dad reminded them. We finished loving the rice--sort of. Some kids worked with me and seemed sincere in their positivity. There was also some, "I love you SO much. You're the most amazing rice I've ever seen." Is rice a stranger to sarcasm? Would it be able to differentiate between words of love and intentions of love? I held the jar last, giving it all the sincere love I could muster--for rice. Then I capped it, labeled it, and put it away next to its brother.
I kept an eye on the jars a couple times each week as I used their cupboard. For the first month, there was no noticeable change. I began wondering how rice kept in my refrigerator seems to fare worse than rice kept in a non-vacuum-sealed jar at room temperature. But that's an experiment for another science fair.
There are plenty of pictures online from people who performed different variations of this experiment. Most results seem to support the hypothesis that things fed with love thrive, and things fed with hate rot.
After two months in the cupboard, the jars of rice made their appearance again last night:
|(Click the picture to enlarge.)|
#4 saw them first and laughed, "This explains why our family works the way it does!" When the rest of the family gathered for dinner and game night with friends, they had pretty much the same reaction. But as I type the previous sentence, I realize that whether our sarcasm does or doesn't communicate love, we are still building our family on important rituals and good principles. We laugh together. We eat meals together. We play together. And even if our humor is a little sarcastic or off-center, we still get each other. Most importantly, we hug and kiss (and hiss--that's for yet another blog post) and tell our kids multiple times a day, "I love you." And usually, they respond sincerely with a quick, "I love you too."
P.S. We do also maintain our family on the principle of working together. After avoiding it Wednesday night and Thursday morning, I decided tonight that I had to face the rice rather than leave it on display. #s 3 and 5 were in the kitchen visiting with me as I did the dishes, until I took the lids of the rice to scoop it into the garbage. They wisely vacated as I began dry heaving at the disgusting smells of mold and rot. Working together doesn't always work well when you're disposing of "loved" rice. Bleh!