Sunday, January 25, 2009

it's only words . . . or is it?

An article I came across in a recent issue of body + soul magazine (*love* this pub) talked about the power of words, and how replacing negative ones (never, no, bad) with positive ones (can, will, good) - a la affirmations - is almost universally touted among self-improvement gurus as one way to a happier life.

I agree to some degree - I definitely believe your thoughts help shape your life, and your vocabulary, both in your head and on your lips, clearly helps shape your thoughts. The article's author went a little further, focusing in on not the blatantly bummifying words, but the subtler, sneakier words that may be sabotaging you surreptitiously.

Her list of five words worth dropping included successful, should, nice, never and busy.

My favorite of the five was busy. Her rationale: "It's almost a status thing, a contest to see who's busier than whom, and whoever's more crazed wins. . . . None of us can know who's actually busier than anyone else. I think we should all just own up to the fact that we're busy, and if we're lucky, then we'll stay that way. Being busy, after all, means we're active, vital and needed. So let's stop saying it to each other over and over."

Amen, sister.

So this year, I'm going to try to quit answering the question "How are you?" with busy, and try to stop the busy talk as much as possible.

And I've been thinking over other words I might want to part ways with in 2009 . . .

stress: Along the same lines as busy, stress is just a natural element of life. It means we're experiencing change, facing challenges, caring. What would life be without that? Boring and meaningless, that's what. So let's stop talking about it and just deal with it as healthily as we can.

hurry: I do way too much of this, and I force my kids to do too much of it, too. I want to slow down a little, which means doing less (see busy, above) in order to create more time and space around our lives.

sleep-deprived: Frankly, I wear my sleep deprivation as a badge of honor even though I know it's a bonafide physical, psychological and emotional concern. This is a condition I've got complete control over, if I choose to exercise it. I'm choosing to do so now. And if I fall back into my bad sleep habits, I'll at least try not to raise the resulting condition as a recurring conversational topic. 

So, what's some verbiage you're ready to vault from your vocabulary?? Do share.

1 comment:

Susan K. Morrow said...

As one of those gurus, I always tell my clients to create affirmations that are present and positive, i.e., stated in the present tense and using positive words. An example is not to say, "I am not a worried person" but to say something more like, "I am at peace, I am calm." Or "I think thoughts that feel good." I'm surprised that you didn't mention--or that author didn't mention--science's long-ago findings that the brain does not recognize the "not" words, like, "won't, can't, shouldn't" and instead gets the rest. So "I won't overeat today" turns into "I WILL overeat." I would extend that to the Universe's listening capabilities, as well. I also recommend leaving out words that exist in their opposites: If you use the word "secure", you imply insecurity. Try using feeling words, like, "I FEEL great, happy, rich, smart, etc."

Oh, and as for "busy", I like the word "effective". I find that if I ask to be "productive", the result is usually "worn out".