post written by: Marc Chernoff

How To Choose Happiness With Words


Choose Happiness with Words

This guest post was written by Tehseen, the author of Recharge Your Mind.

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.

Conclusion

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.

Tehseen Baweja writes about creativity, productivity and personal growth.  If you are looking for some tips, check out his blog at RechargeYourMind.com.

Photo by: Greekadman

Download the ebook If you enjoyed this article, check out our new best-selling book.
Marc and Angel Subscription via Email And get inspiring life tips and quotes in your inbox (it's free)...

Enter your email address to get new articles delivered for free:



29 Comments

  • Hi Tehseen,

    I really like the suggestions on keeping a discussion friendly, and will remember to some of those myself. “Sometimes I feel…” is much better than “You always…” and same for the other specific words you provide.

    Well done! Going to check out your blog now.

  • I couldn’t agree more. I find that being enthusiatic about life is contagious. When you say positive words and feel the smile your mood is instantly uplifted. It spreads like the plague too. Pretty soon everyone around you is optimistic as well. The red flag is when despite your best efforts to be positive the other person is still negative. Their issue not yours. The key is learning not only how to be positive but how to not let it effect you when other people are negative. Keeping your internal space happy at all times :) Thanks for the great reminder!

  • Tehseen, I was always a glass 90% empty person, but I finally turned it around and it made all the difference in the world.

    Doug Bench calls it “Super-size your greeting.” It works for me too. I can’t believe how much of a difference such a small simple change can make.

    This was a wonderful article. Thanks, and thanks to Marc and Angel for hosting it.

  • I’ll let Tehseen reply to any questions or comments you all have, but I did want to say that I agree with the first few comments here.

    Since Angel and I read this guest article, both of us have been making a conscious effort to be more postive while communicating with others.

    I must say… I noticed a difference almost immediately.

  • I love this advice to choose our words wisely. Words really do have power to affect the way that we, and others, feel. Maya Angelou said (paraphrasing here) nobody will remember what you did or what you said, but everyone will remember how you made them feel. A big part of that is choosing words and a communication style that respect and nurture the other person.

  • REALLY loved this post! It is filled with SO many great tips and ideas. Wonderful!!

  • @Marc and Angel: Thank you so much for letting me share my thoughts here. Your comment makes it clear that it takes no time to feel the difference.

    @ Daphne: Thanks Daphne. Its true that even a slight change in words can have a big impact.

    @ Amber: I am totally with you on this one. Also, when this enthusiasm and positivity spreads you get a separate bundle of joy for being a factor in some one’s happiness.

    @Lisis: So true. Words communicate so much more than their meaning. They also tell the other person how you think/feel about them. If your words are kind and respectful, they will listen to you even if they don’t believe you.

  • Great article. I don’t personally ascribe to the view that happiness is a state of mind. But, really my opinion is a matter of a different perspective and is not worth quibbling since from one point of view, and definition of the word “happiness” it is a state of mind. Be that as it may, I’ll tell you what really excites me about this article.

    I have always been turned-on by the ideal of the Warrior for Peace. It’s a delicious paradox that does not need solving, but whose embrace leads to a rich outlook on life and a useful personal philosophy. In my view, life is a constant battle. Not a battle for survival of the body, although that does happen all to often, but rather a battle of ideologies. Most of us truck through life struggling to put together a philosophy that at first makes our lives better, and as we evolve also makes life in general better. As we soldier along we are servants to, and of, our prevailing philosophy, no matter how haphazardly those may be slapped together. We champion that philosophy in all of our interactions, and the tools we use are the expressions and communications of our beliefs. We use phrases and body language as weapons to wage these battles to keep our set of beliefs strong and alive. For the most part we do this unconsciously and perfectly innocently.

    To engage this in an active way is a much more useful way to wage this battle, and allows for us to truly consider what we are championing. We can construct a philosophy of peace and mindfulness (as an example) and pick our words so as to advance that cause. In the inevitable bumping against of our myriad philosophies and belief structures, we can choose an active rather than passive stance. That, to me, is the Way of the Warrior of Peace. It is how a soldier in the army of peace can fight the battle for more peace in this world. Not as a method to dominate another’s set of beliefs, but as a way to test our own and to spread the possibility of such an outlook. Social engineering on the personal scale.

    Again, beautiful article!

    Cheers!

  • Tehseen gotta agree about the power of words to change the way we feel about ourselves and our lives.

    In conversations with friends we can also benefit by dropping the word ‘but’ as it tends to negate what we have just said.

    “Oh, we can go to that bar too if you want, but I would rather…”

    However, to really improve your chances of gentle influence you could even say:

    Oh, we can go to that bar too if you want. And have you also heard about the excellent Hooters, that would really tick all the boxes ;-)

  • Good post.

    I agree that it all comes down to choice. There are so many things we can choose in our lives but we forget that we can and end up accepting many things by default, including how we’re feeling.

    When we choose our words, we change the emotional environment that we’re living in. We just need to be aware of this kind of “control” that we have and, as you recommend, choose our words wisely.

  • @ Travis: I like the way you have explained life as fighting for ideologies. I feel just like our words we should carefully select our ideologies too; not always relying on what is passed on to us.

    Thanks again, for sharing your perspective on this, it is definitely a unique and interesting one.

  • Think of the power behind this simple statement, “If communicated peacefully and appropriately people usually tolerate each other’s perspectives pretty well.” It’s so doable and so powerful that we really can’t afford not to communicate in a positive and respectful way.

  • @Tim: Excellent point. I totally missed the negation in “But”, and I believe we can always find better and better choices and improve.

    @Laurie: Thanks! I think you have rightly pointed out the underlying effect of our power to choose the right words.

    Another phrase that I have been trying to avoid recently is “I should have..”. I realized that I had been using it quite often and it brings in a feeling of ” regret” and “lacking something” , ultimately leading to discontentment.

  • My friend Julie at Random Meanderings is the happiest person I know. She wrote on Twitter I’m happy happy happy today. Life can’t get better than that.

  • You know, there’s a little bit of (dreaded words) Law of Attraction going on here.

    Let’s be clear - I think attraction being a ‘law’ or a ‘rule’ that you can use to get ahead is a bit daft.

    However, there’s something to be said about being positive, being in a happy frame of mind. The world is brighter and you can find more opportunities with a bit of optimism. Thanks Tehseen.

  • Wow, I needed to read that. Thanks for the post!

  • […] How to Choose Happiness With Words […]

  • Thanks for sharing. This can be tough to remember, but I can see the power it can have if you made a commitment to only talk about the positive for a month. I’ve realized my own entry into personal development blogging has changed my energy for the better because I have alot of positive conversations all day. I will keep your words of wisdom in mind when people ask about my job search :)

  • “Remember, our words transparently coincide with our mindset. Positive language creates a healthy balance between our mind and our heart.”

    Powerful stuff man! Really!

    It truly is amazing how our words can affect our overall well being.

    I too love it when people actually respond to “how are you?” instead of just saying “I’m fine”

    Thanks for the wonderful post and reminder :)

  • Georgia P. Kelly
    May 29th, 2009 at 12:13 am

    Tehseen,

    Your message is most timely as I am decompressing from a long and celebrated weekend of R&R. I find it challenging to recharge that positivity in myself once the frenetic pace of the week begins. There is little time or thought to be conscious in the ways you describe. However, how true it is that we need to begin with self-speak and projection of what we intend to create for ourselves. If we fail to start with us, it takes a lot more effort to maintain our own happiness and then share it with others. Now that I have almost mastered the “glass is half full” posture, I am more sensitized to others’ negativity. I sometimes find myself becoming resentful that they are invading my positive space - how odd is that? One practice that has been useful is to choose the word “remember” instead of “don’t forget.” That has made a world of difference in the outcome of even the smallest tasks. thanks for sharing! GPK

  • Hey Tehseen.

    really like the way you opened this article, with “happiness is a state of mind” - so true.

    the idea of injecting happiness with words was really cool too. your example of the over enthusiastic “i’m fabulous” really made me smile, have a few friends like that and always makes me happy. contagious happiness :) i don’t think it needs to necessarily be with words, a full whole-hearted honest smile and that look in your eyes can often be enough.

    your advice on not turning friendly discussions into arguments is also super on point. i find just redirecting to the positve usually helps avoid arguments. someone disagreeing with your view on something and you just say, “yeah i see where you’re coming from but at least” and then insert something positive about that thing.

    busy writing a post titled “feeling good is a choice” so really cool and inspiring read!!

    well done!

    stumbled!!
    alex - unleash reality

  • @Srinivas and @Bud: Thanks for the encouragement.

    @Georgia: You are so right about starting with our own self. If we don’t get into the positive mode first, our words would be really hollow and would not have any impact on the other person. Great example about “Remember” and “Don’t Forget”, I’ll try to remember this one :)

    @Alex: Thanks for such kind words. Looking forward to read your post.

  • This is a great article, thanks! I realized this back in college when I had a boss at an internship with a similar attitude. Even first thing on a Monday morning he was charged up and ready to go. “How’s it goin’ Tim? Feelin’ good?! Feelin’ strong?!” Is what he’d ask with a friendly tone and a smile. I realized that this simple gesture made a world of difference in my day and I work to exude this same attitude in my current office, around the house, and everywhere I go.
    It can be difficult, but it has benefits for both parties, the giver of the positive attitude as well as the recipient.

  • […] I love the blog Marc and Angel Hack Life. One of my more recent favorites is How To Choose Happiness With Words. […]

  • Understanding others as well as ourselves helps in enhancing communication. Great tips to enhance the communication between others.

  • Good post.. words can really swing our moods.

  • Forgot to mentions I also wrote a similar post some time back … ppl may like it - it is about sending smiles and positive thoughts to whoever we come across . here is the link :
    http://zencontrol.net/2009/06/smile-and-send-positive-thoughts-to-everyone/

  • Hello. I wish I could be more positive but I’m not. I think my soul is in the advanced stages of decomposition. What can I do? Too many problems. Too many bad things have happened. I feel beaten. I feel that. I’m sure all this positive thinking is great but it’s a bit like people who aren’t in favour of the death penalty for criminals. They’re usually the people who haven’t seen their 3 year-old daughter getting raped in front of 20 grandpas with video cameras. It’s about your life experiences.

  • Ben, I know it must seem like you are never going to come back from the edge of darkess, but you will. I have been where you are and it is very dark in that place, but when you finally are able to come back you will be a much stronger person than you thought you were. I can’t imagine what horrible things you have endured to make you feel this way. I only know what I experienced made me want to die. It does get better, but you have to reach a place where you want to. I was in a place so dark that I wanted to never see the sun again. I wanted to give up. I am not sure exactly what happened but one day I woke up and I realized that this person I had become was not me. I wanted me back. It is a very long journey, but you can do it! Hang in there.

Leave a Reply