Happiness is simply a state of mind. No, I’m not implying that we can instantly heal the pain of a severe or unexpected personal tragedy just by thinking about being happy. Rather, I am referring to our levels of happiness on routine days when things in our lives are close to normal. In these neutral times, when we are neither ecstatic nor extremely sad, the slightest change in attitude can swing our happiness balance drastically in either a positive or negative direction. One of the primary factors that affect our attitude is our choice of words.
Words have a lot of power and influence on both the speaker and the listener. When we speak we sometimes unintentionally choose words that have a negative undertone. This can make us seem unhappy (and negative) in the eyes of others. Even worse, after we have spoken these words our unconscious mind starts believing in them. “If this is what came out of my mouth, it must be the way I truly feel.”
However, this is not always true. The first fleeting words that come to mind are not necessarily the most accurate representation of our feelings and intentions. We must realize that we have the power to choose the words we use, and if we pick them carefully, they can change the way we feel.
Here are three typical scenarios where positive language can inject positivity and happiness into our lives.
Inject Happiness into Casual Communication
Typically, when I ask someone “How are you?” they reply, “I’m fine” or “I’m okay.” But one lazy Monday afternoon last month a new colleague of mine replied, “Oh, I am fabulous!” It made me smile, so I asked him what was making him feel so fabulous and he said, “I’m healthy, my family is healthy, and we live in a free country. So I don’t have any reason not to be happy.” The difference was simply his attitude and his choice of words. He wasn’t necessarily any better off than anyone else, but he seemed twenty times happier.
It really struck a chord with me. Suddenly I realized that I have a choice. I can either say “the glass is half empty” or “the glass is half full.” Why not rejoice in the fact that, thankfully, I don’t have anything to be terribly upset about.
So now when someone asks me how I am doing, I say “I’m doing wonderful!” or “Everything is awesome!” or something similar that reflects a positive, happy mood. Since I’ve made a regular habit of doing this, multiple friends and acquaintances have noticed a positive change in my attitude. And I do genuinely feel happier. Also, it seems like the people around me are smiling more now too. So I guess it’s contagious.
Keep Friendly Discussions Friendly
We’ve all been involved in friendly discussions that turn into heated arguments. This usually results in a complete breakdown of productive communication. The reason for this is simple. When people get into heated arguments they get unhappy, and unhappy people are not productive. More often than not these arguments transpire due to our choice of words rather than our point of views. If communicated peacefully and appropriately people usually tolerate each other’s perspectives pretty well. Hence, it’s very important to choose our words wisely even when we strongly disagree with someone.
- Instead of telling the other person “You always…” try saying “Sometimes you…”.
- Instead of saying “That’s not true,” try saying “I don’t think I completely understand your point of view.”
- Instead of telling your friend “I don’t want to go to that bar,” you can say “Oh, we can go to that bar too if you want, but I would rather…”
Using words that make the other person feel negated always creates negativity in conversations. On the other hand, choosing words that assure the listeners that their perspectives are being respected drastically improves the chances of getting your point across without heating things up.
Wendell Johnson once said:
Always and never are two words you should always remember never to use.
Maintain a Hopeful Outlook
When we are talking or thinking about ourselves we are typically the least careful with our choice of words. We assume that there are no restrictions on what to say or how to think about our own person. In some situations this might be true, but the positivity or negativity of our words and thoughts still affect us.
For example, there is a huge difference between saying “I wish I have a house that big someday” versus “It would be great to have a house that big someday.” The latter gives a greater sense of possibility and confidence which allows us to believe that ‘yes’ it is possible and ‘yes’ it could happen one day. Whereas, using words like ‘I wish’ makes it seem unreachable and impossible, which generally leads to feelings of discontentment.
These are just some simple examples that illustrate how important it is to choose and use positive words. Remember, our words transparently coincide with our mindset. Positive language creates a healthy balance between our mind and our heart.