Change Your Language, Change Your Life

With bosses breathing down our necks and monthly planners jammed with tight deadlines, stress and negativity have become ingrained into our daily living.

Not only do we get down on ourselves when we fail to live up to our own or others’ expectations, but we also have a deep-seated fear of failure. What's more, new research reveals that using negative words and thinking negative thoughts can actually affect the chemicals in our brain in charge of protecting us from stress. On the other hand, positive words and thoughts promote cognitive functioning, a fancy term for brain activity.

Happify, a research-based website and app that aims to fuel us with happiness and positive thinking, recommends pumping up your positivity through easy-to-practice language changes.

Why not? → Sounds good!

No problem. → Definitely!

Can’t complain. → Everything’s going well, thanks!

The website explains words like “not,” “no” and “can’t” all have negative connotations. So, even though you are not purposefully trying to release negative energy by using these words, your brain - and the brains of those around you - thinks otherwise.

I’m tired. → I need a rest.

Happify suggests attaching a solution to phrases like the one above to foster a positive attitude about a situation.

Don’t type it like that…  → I like it when you type it like this…

Happify urges bosses to emphasize what they want their employees to do rather than what they shouldn’t be doing. This offers up criticism and suggestions in a more respectful, rather than condescending, manner. Additionally, when writing emails or reminders to coworkers, be sure to cut out words such as "impossible,” “unfortunately” and “problem” or any other language that may be perceived as negative.

The importance of the words we choose extends beyond the workplace. Even the world of education is taking notice and making a change in the language used with students.

Rather than telling students what they shouldn’t be doing (i.e., “Don’t run.”), educators may tweak their language to express what students should be doing (“Please, walk.”). This simple spin on words to address the positive instead of the negative encourages more responsive behavior from students and shows them more respect. And the same can be said about using these changes in the workplace.

Like most lifestyle changes, positive language is something that needs to be practiced continually if you hope to reap its benefits. It's never too late to start changing your attitude - get started one positive word at a time.

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