Why Thirty-Six Words? Why not thirty-seven or eighty-nine?
Excellent question. One we’ve asked ourselves. In the end, ThirtySixWords was designed to build a fresh infrastructure and vocabulary for transformational living. To that purpose, we believe that the world is infinitely complex and bathed in mystery so the words we choose are always—by definition—approximations. ThirtySixWords began by trying to capture those approximations in the six frames defined by the sacred Jewish prayer from Deuteronomy 6. This big idea became the groundswell for a discussion of how we function as humans from the inside out and how healing comes to us from the outside in.
The six frames were broken down into six identifiable words each so that as we discussed the franes, each layer of the human experience would be readily accessible in chunks of experience that we recognize and read books about. For example, “Habit” is one of the soul words. There’s much written about why we need to have better habits and how to get them (some of it quite good.) The problem lies in that looking at Habits as a disconnected part of our experience is destined for failure. Our Habits are products of Movement, our Values and our Emotions. And until we understand the layers underneath Habits, there’s a very low chance of changing them. Add Habit to the 35 others and you’ve got 36 words.
For more information on the interconnection of the words, see the LEXICON.
Why such unfamiliar words? Do you have to have a PhD to learn this stuff?
Well-placed accusation. ThirtySixWords is notoriously… wordy. And we chose words that, in many cases, are unfamiliar while intentionally mixing in the more recognizable. This was all done with a purpose. We mixed the familiar with the foreign in order to upset your expectations. We’re not trying to sound smart or make this hard; life is hard enough. But we are trying to breakthrough your preconceived notions and to do so we had to pick some words that would make you go, “huh?” It may mean that you come to our site and quickly turn around for lack of a thesaurus, but give it a chance. Words are like lives, they can sometimes seem scary on the outside, but they are only as powerful as the meaning we give them.
Is this a Christian site? You talk a lot about Jesus but it doesn’t sound like anything I’ve ever heard in church.
Wow, you FAQ writers are really asking good questions. You deserve a raise. ThirtySixWords is unquestionably Christian in the most traditional sense. We eschew some of the more problematic modern twists on Christianity, particularly those self-helpy prosperity Gospel things that are more popular in church these days. But Nick, the founder and curator, is an unapologetic Jesus follower and we believe that the only way to a better world is when our hearts are transformed by the Spirit of God into the likeness of Jesus under the rule of the Father. For more info, see our Foundations.
Some of this sounds like stuff my therapist says. Is this about psychoanalyzing yourself?
Nope. The psychotherapy world has given us some good language for the process of health and healing but this is unquestionably not about therapy (which has a helpful role in many people’s lives). We borrow from the language of therapy, just like we borrow from the language of religion and community development and even pop-culture sometimes because these are the dialects that we live in everyday and some of them have better words for specific things. In the end, ThirtySixWords stands on the back of a whole-person view: everything in your life matters, every person matters, and in particular the stuff we don't like. The opportunity for self-awareness is only the beginning. Once we have a vocabulary for transformational things then we have to DO transformational things which is where the rub lies. Self-awareness is the start of a journey that must be continued with action, thought and engagement. Without action, surrender to Love, spiritual practices, etc. the awareness that therapy offers has often only fed narcissism. We are patently anti-narcissism here.