I have seen the movie Bohemian Rhapsody twice…so far. I will likely see it again and again. Like many who have happily stomped and clapped to “We Will Rock You‚” at sporting events, I had no idea of the depth or breadth of Queen’s music, let alone the talent and magnetism of Freddie Mercury, played by Rami Malik in the movie. If you haven’t seen the movie, I highly recommend it as one of the most engaging and inspiring movies I have ever seen. So good, in fact, that I think it’s one of the few movies during which I haven’t fallen asleep in recent years…either time I watched it!
Beyond the music and the story and Rami Malik’s incredible portrayal of Freddie Mercury is a phrase spoken between Freddie and his father—“Good words. Good deeds. Good thoughts.” These are the primary principles of Zoroastrianism, one of the oldest monotheistic religions. Freddie’s father reminds his son of this basic life foundation as Freddie is pulling away from the family traditions to create his stage persona…and, later in the movie, Freddie lets his father know that he hasn’t deserted the principles as he heads out to perform at the 1985 Live Aid concert.
Six words. So simple. So powerful. I’m sure there are volumes filled somewhere of other rules to follow in Zoroastrianism, just as there are volumes of the rules in every religion. But if you follow those six words, how simply lovely life can be. To me, you don’t even need all of the other rules and regulations about how to live a good life if you simply follow these six words.
Good words: “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but names will never hurt me.” If only. Words matter. Ask any of the millions of children who have been bullied in their lives. Or children whose parents have told them that they weren’t intelligent enough or living up to expectations. Or the social-media shaming that is rampant at all levels and for all ages. Are you participating in that angry mob vitriol? Isn’t it funny that it’s the touching phrases of inspiration that get shared the most on social media and not the venom? Good words are contagious.
Do thoughts create our words? Or do words create our thoughts? Or is it a continuous feedback loop? Say a kind word to someone, and brighten his/her day. Offer a little encouragement. Say please and thank you. It makes a difference.
Last year, I ran in my first 10K ever. After about four miles into the run, I was flagging and had to take a pause to walk for a bit. A stranger ran up behind me and said, “C’mon, you’ve got this…” Wow. I went from feeling alone and somewhat defeated to feeling supported and connected. I started running again and didn’t stop until the finish line.
Pay attention to the words you use and the words you hear. How do they make you feel? What tone do they set? Are they words that someone would want to follow? Or words from which they would want to hide?
Good deeds: Americans are among the most generous and caring people on the planet. The US is the largest single-donor country of foreign aid in the world, spending close to $40 billion annually, and our individual charitable giving was more than $400 billion in 2017. We help ourselves, and we help those in need all over the globe. From the simplest gesture of buying Girl Scout Cookies, holding the door for someone or delivering food to a friend who is under the weather…to personal sacrifices in which neighbors help neighbors in times of crisis…good deeds are at the heart of America’s culture.
Saying “yes” feels good for both the asker and the asked. Do a good deed every day…it doesn’t have to be big. It just has to be good.
Good thoughts: When you wake each day, what is the first thought that comes to mind? Is it dread and burden? Or enthusiasm for whom you will see and what you will do? And as you move through the day, what is the chatter that runs through your head? Are you judging “them”? Are you complaining about how unfair your life is? Do you have a job, a boss, a spouse, a hairdresser that drives you nuts? And do you reinforce that thought every day?
Our thoughts are connected to our bodies…negative thoughts create negative changes at the cellular level. Think an angry thought and feel your stomach tense and your head throb. Fearful thoughts? Feel the hair rise on the back of your neck and your muscles tighten.
Think about a giggling baby or a litter of puppies, and see how that makes your body feel. Calmer? Lighter?
Louise Hay, the healer and founder of publishing company Hay House, used to say, “It’s only a thought, and a thought can be changed.” I love that, since I have a very overactive mind that tends to move toward fear and dread before joy and enthusiasm.
Watch your thoughts and see what they’re creating in your body. If you like what you feel, then that’s great. If you don’t like what you feel, pick another thought.
Freddie Mercury was his own very complex set of words, deeds and thoughts. He clearly had his own demons that haunted him, but in the end, he lived a life that honored those tenets.
If we all could simply focus on those three simple tasks, what a good world it will continue to be.