Words that impacted you

What has someone said to you that impacted you and even caused you to make decisions a little differently?

I’ll start…

About ten years ago, I started playing basketball with the guys I worked with at lunch. I have another friend who played professional basketball in Germany and was pretty good (at least compared to me). One night over a beer, I asked him for advice on playing basketball. I was expecting him to tell me some shot to perfect, or some picking technique or whatever, but instead he said,

“Be big and call for the ball.”

I.e. have the right attitude, stand up, take chances, and tell others you’re there and capable.

It struck me as very good advice not just for basketball, but life in general. I think about the phrase from time to time, especially in business dealings.

This is kind of a downer, but I’ve never forgotten it.

Walking back to work from lunch one day, when I lived in Seattle, I crossed the street and passed a panhandler. He was all smiles (it was sunny, for once, and maybe he’d been luckier than usual).

As he walked toward me I heard him say, “look at all the pretty ladies”, and I smiled at him. Then as he passed by me, he said “except you, you’re kinda ugly.”

I was crushed. “Damn, am I ugly?”

Then defensive. “Hey, fella, if your mamma looked as good as me, maybe she’d have had kids that lived.”

Then sympathetic. “Gee, that poor guy, the high point of his day is saying something rude to a stranger.”

His comment didn’t warp my life, but it did affect me. And I learned from it – offhand comments that you’ll forget in an instant can have an impact. So be careful.

As for the OP, I can’t say that it caused me to make decisions differently – but I did make an appointment with my hairdresser the next day. :slight_smile:

Coupla things come to mind. A college professor wrote to me and told me I was letting a good mind make me arrogant and superior, and I was going to miss a lot of what the world had to offer me if I didn’t rethink that. He was right, and I tried to be less of an intellectual snob.

Second incident: A friend of the family killed himself, and within months my mom decided to retire early. She said “Life is too short to stay unhappy.” She was never the type to say anything philosophical like that, so that stuck. Especially since I hadn’t realized she was miserable in her job. That also made me rethink the parts of my mindset that were keeping me unhapppy.

There are others, but those are the big ones which come to mind.

I have several as well:

  1. I was interviewing for a job I really wanted, and had friends who worked there. I put them down as recommendations and the manager talked to them, and my buddy Sue told me that Barb (the manager) had wondered if I would be bored. She told Sue that I cam across as very intelligent and strong-minded, that she could tell I was a good person.

Before, when people said, “be yourself,” I didn’t know what that meant. But this statement made me believe in myself. I am myself and I wouldn’t change that for anything in the world.

  1. Ok, confession: I love Iyanla Vanzant, who writes self-help books (she is often on Oprah). I was reading “One Day My Soul Just Opened Up” by Iyanla and came across the lines: “Time is on your side. Where you are is exactly where you are supposed to be, and you have all the time in the world to move forward,” and “God doesn’t punish you. You punish yourself when you are not true to your Divine nature.” That changed my outlook is so many ways; I realized that I have time to make mistakes and learn from them, to mess up and then fix it. In truth, I have time to make myself into the best person I can be.

  2. One time I was really upset about something, and my mom hugged me and said, “Life is like an onion. Sometimes when you peel back the layers, you weep.” I don’t know where she got that, but at the time my life was changing and I was growing up a lot, and that made me realize that life is not easy. Life can suck, but it does get better.

  3. When I was 16, I asked my mom (completely randomly) what she would be if she didn’t have to worry about mortgage, bills, insurance, etc. She said “I honestly don’t know.” That really affected me; I decided to find work that made me happy and be true to myself; I will never sell out for money and position. I just want to be happy in my career, although I am not sure what I will do, I know I will be content with it.

Wow, there are probably some more but these have impacted me the most.

Some one said to me once:

“You can’t do the same thing over and over again and expect different results”

Sounds straight forward and not very moving at all.

At the time, it rocked my world.

My dentist once told me that my wisdom teeth were impacted and they’d have to cut open my gums to remove them. :stuck_out_tongue:

Words that have had impact on me… hmmmm… my dad has given me great advice over the course of my life… the one that comes immediately to mind is:

“Son, when you marry, you must pick a wife for yourself not for the rest of the family.” I proposed to my wife (now of 7 years) within the next few days.

I got to use impugn in a speech for an induction ceremony. I loved it. Say it once or twice, you will love it too.

“You thrive in adversity, no one else here blossoms when it gets rough like you do. Rather masochistic of you, but a talent none the less.”

“If it feels like an abusive relationship, it is. Whether you can see it or not.” Whether you are whimpering that he doesn’t hit you much or that you can’t see any actual abuse beyond what you feel is reasonable, if it feels wrong it is. Oddly enough, I had to be told this and it blew my mind. Sigh.

“You are responsible for your own happiness. You may not be able to control your circumstances, but you can control your reactions. You can choose to be happy or unhappy.” After denying this and thinking it over, it really is true. And it surprises me every time how easy/difficult it is to do.

In her books, a writer I like frequent quotes her former zen teacher (Dainin Katagiri Roshi) saying “Make positive effort for good.” The context is that she was in the midst of a painful divorce and she was struggling just to get up in the morning; she went to speak with her teacher and he told her this. It turned things around for her if she could just think of making a positive effort (just one thing each day) for good.

A related quote is from “It’s a Wonderful Life” when Clarence the Angel (AS2) says, “Every man’s life touches so many other lives that when he’s not around it creates an awful hole.” I’ve always loved the movie (yes, I’m one of those people :)), and think that working backwards from that premise/statement is a good thing–to live your life so that it touches a lot of other lives (i.e. live so that if you weren’t around, you’d leave a hole).

There are certainly others, but this two statements not only “impacted” me, they altered (formed) my life’s philosophy of how to be a good human being.

I’m in the Navy. We’re a different group, there’s not two ways about it. There’s also not as much warm touchy-feely-ness as this sort of thread engenders.
Some time ago, I got in trouble, and lost some rank and pays. After a little while, with the anguish of it still upon me, I tried to go back and see the Captain to get him to reconsider, at least partly.

To do that, you also have to talk to everyone between you and him.

One of these people is a 32-year career man. Been there, seen it, done it. Achieved the highest enlisted rank possible before commissioning and rising to Commander. Eats junior officers for breakfast. Doesn’t mince words.

His behind-closed-doors advice to me, even though I hated it at the time:
Get your chin up off the deck, quit your fucking sniveling, and do your job.
I was shocked.
But he was right.

More people need this type of advice, more of the time. And less coddling.

I went to a counselor while I was going through my divorce because I was pretty damn depressed, you know, guilt, regret, fear, the whole nine yards. She was trying to encourage me to live in the now and not worry about the past or the future nearly so much. She said:

“If you have one foot stuck in yesterday, and one foot stuck in tomorrow, you’re pissin’ on today”

That was helpful.


While in the hospital recovering from a car wreck, my legs were pretty mangled. My left ankle was so bad, they had considered amputation, but (since I was unconscious) my father wouldn’t allow it. I’d been there a couple days when the doctor came in and told me everything that was wrong with me, the worst being my legs, and told me I may be in a wheelchair for quite some time, then on canadian crutches. I asked the doctor if I would ever walk again on my own. His reply was, “Do you want to?”

For some reason that stuck with me, and made me believe everything was up to me and the choices I made and that I controlled my own fate.

It’s been 4 years since I’ve needed to use a cane to walk, and I only limp if the weather gets too cold or humid and stiffens up my joints.

I’ve kept a quote book since I was 13, and write down anything that strikes me in the gut. But if we’re talking about actual conversations, there are probably two. Senior year in high school, I was taking German for the first time. The teacher was a kind man, who ran the course on a master-based formula, basically, if you learned the stuff, you passed. We could take tests over if we didn’t like the grade, and keep the highest score. You COULDN’T fail the course, it was impossible. One day, he announced that we were having a test in a week. No problem, thinks Swiddles. If I bomb it, I can always take it over again. But this one girl, a sophmore, started going on about how he couldn’t do this, it wasn’t enough time to prepare, yada yada yada. He turned to her, and in a very quiet voice, said “Hannah, will this one test in this one class in this one year of high school really matter all that much in 30 years?” Hannah shrugged and said “Well, I guess not.” He said “Then don’t worry about it.” This has become my measuring stick, if it won’t matter in 30 years, I don’t worry about it.

My friend was working at a nursing home, just talking to the patients. One old woman suddenly said “You know what? I’m 72 years old. My children don’t live near me, my husband is dead, my friends are going one by one. And you know what makes me sure I didn’t waste any time in my life? I had adventures when I was young. I faced my fears and did it for fun. That’s what keeps you warm when you’re cold. Adventures.” And due to that woman I never met, I DO face what scares me, and I DO delight in it. Gives you good stories to tell, too.

Yes, I remember hearing that “impact” is not a verb and that “impacted” wasn’t even a word. That was very important in my life. It also occurs to me that I remember hearing that "quote is a verb and not a noun.

Those have made a difference, because I am so easily annoyed when words are used so meaninglessly.

P.S. CrankyAsAnOldMan is a great name.

I remember a time in my life when I was doing a lot of re-evaluating. One thing I was dealing with was a friend who had been using me since first grade. She was completely self centered, but I was reluctant to let her out of my life because of the many years that we had been friends. Then I saw a quote by Nikki Giovanni.

“There is always something to do. There are hungry people to feed, naked people to clothe, sick people to comfort and make well. And while I don’t expect you to save the world, I do think it’s not asking too much to love those with whom you sleep, share the happiness of those whom you call friend, engage those among you who are visionary and remove from your life those who offer you depression, despair and disrespect.”

It had a profound effect on the way that I view life. I decided to spend more time and energy on the people that I respected, and that gave time and energy back, and to remove from my life those that offered me that only gave me negative things.

“Wonders in the world are many; nothing is more wonderful than man.”

  • Sophocles

“The unexamined life is not worth living.”

  • Socrates

“It is better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied.”

  • John Stuart Mill

“Three passions, simple but overwhelmingly strong, have governed my life: the longing for love, the search for knowledge, and unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind.”

  • Bertrand Russell

“They can cut all the flowers, but they will not stop spring.”

  • Parisian graffito

“What is hateful… is not rebellion, but the despotism which induces that rebellion; not rebels but the men who, having the enjoyment of power, do not discharge the duties of power; the men who, when they are asked for a loaf, give a stone.”

  • Sir Wilfrid Laurier

“The single purpose of power is to serve the public weal.”

  • John Ralston Saul

My wife said a couple little words that I said too: “I do.”

“We hold these truths to be self-evident…”

Not kidding, this was quite an impact on my little fourth grade brain, after getting beat over the head for the first three grades with Communist crap, this was very important in my life.


The most important words weren’t even directed at me…

One night during dinner, Dad was talking about work. One of his co-workers was engaged in some petty squabble (I certainly don’t remember what, and I’d be willing to bet that he doesn’t either). This fella was raising quite a fuss about the whole thing.

My dad just stepped into the fray and asked, “Are you sure this is the hill you want to die on?”

Wow…it made me realize how unimportant most things really are, and that you should save your passion for the stuff that really matters.

I have to add one more… just recently. I was corresponding with the Dutch guy who’s editing my Esperanto translation of Saul’s Doubter’s Companion. He called it “aperiginda, ech -enda” (which should be, no, must be published). That kept me going, and I’m now amidst the O’s. There’s no stopping me. :slight_smile:

[hijack] I’m not sure if Bucky was making a joke or seriously calling word usage into question (either motive is fine with me :)), but since I LOVE words, their usage and grammar, I thought I’d take a quick look at the these words using good old Dictionary.com as a reference source.


“Impact” and “Impacted” from Dictionary.com:

  1. The striking of one body against another; collision.
  2. The force or impetus transmitted by a collision.
  3. The effect or impression of one thing on another: still gauging the impact of automation on the lives of factory workers.
  4. The power of making a strong, immediate impression: a speech that lacked impact.

v. im·pact·ed, im·pact·ing, im·pacts
v. tr.

  1. To pack firmly together.
  2. To strike forcefully: meteorites impacting the lunar surface.
  3. Usage Problem. To have an effect or impact on.

*v. intr. Usage Problem *

To have an effect or impact.

Usage Note: Each generation of critics seems to select one particular usage to stand as the emblem of what they view as linguistic crassness. Thirty years ago it was the use of contact as a verb, but opposition to that form has more or less disappeared, and attention now focuses on the verbal use of impact meaning “have an effect, affect.” Eighty-four percent of the Usage Panel disapproves of the construction to impact on, as in the phrase social pathologies, common to the inner city, that impact heavily on such a community; and fully 95 percent disapproves of the use of impact as a transitive verb in the sentence Companies have used disposable techniques that have a potential for impacting our health. But even these figures do not reflect the degree of distaste with which critics view the usage: in their comments some Panelists labeled the usage as “bureaucratic,” “pretentious,” “vile,” and “a vulgarism.” · It may be that the particular pretentiousness associated with the verbal use of impact is caused by its derivation from an already questionable metaphoric use of the noun impact, as in phrases such as the political impact of the decision or the impact of the program on the community, in which no more is usually meant than might have been expressed by effects or consequences. But though impact may have begun life a generation ago as an inflated substitute for “affect significantly,” it has by now become so common in corporate and institutional contexts that younger speakers appear to regard it as wholly standard and straightforward usage. Within a few years, accordingly, the usage is likely to be no more objectionable than contact is now, since it will no longer betray any particular pretentiousness on the part of those who use it.


“Quote” from Dictionary.com:

  1. Informal. A quotation.
  2. A quotation mark.
  3. Used by a speaker to indicate the beginning of a quotation.
  4. Usage Problem. A dictum; a saying.

Usage Note: As a transitive verb quote is appropriately used to describe the use of an exact wording drawn from another source. When the original source is paraphrased or alluded to, the more general term cite is usually preferable. The noun quote is well established as a truncation of quotation, though many critics regard it as unduly journalistic or breezy. As such, it is best avoided in formal literary discussions. The use of the noun was acceptable to only 38 percent of the Usage Panel in the sentence He began the chapter with a quote from the Bible. But the usage is less objectionable in informal contexts or in reference to less august sources; the word was acceptable to 53 percent of the Panel in the sentence He lightened up his talk by throwing in quotes from Marx Brothers movies. The noun quote is sometimes used as a synonym for “dictum, saying,” as in His career is just one more validation of Andy Warhol’s quote that “in the future, everybody will be famous for fifteen minutes.” This example was unacceptable to 76 percent of the Usage Panel.

[/hijack] :slight_smile: