That’s what careless words do…
They make you love life a little less.
How well have you chosen your words? Have you put them to positive or negative use? If I eavesdropped on your self-talk, or your conversations with others, would I hear statements that create happiness or statements that refute it?
Words are powerful. They can create or they can destroy. Even the small words you whisper under your breath can be the ones to hurt you, or save you. Your ability to write a happy life story hinges on your language. It is your inner and outer verbal expression that makes your joy possible and that infuses your life with purpose and vitality.
Today, I challenge you to choose your words wisely. It’s time to STOP saying…
1. “My goals and dreams can wait.”
To accomplish great things, you must not only act, but also dream, not only plan, but also believe. Be a dreamer, a believer, and a courageous and cheerful thinker. Be a positive motivator, a productive doer, and a go-getter who keeps her head in the clouds and her feet on the ground. Let the spirit of passion and possibility ignite a fire within you to do something worthwhile today, and don’t forget to spread your enthusiasm to those around you.
There’s no excuse for being an amateur forever. Life is short. The day is rapidly approaching when the risk to remain perched in your nest is far more detrimental than the risk it takes to fly. Fly! Spread your wings. Start now. What a disgrace it would be for you to grow old without ever seeing the beauty and strength of your full potential.
Be bold enough to use your voice, brave enough to listen to your heart, and strong enough to live the life you’ve always imagined. And remember, people are going to talk regardless of what you do or how well you do it. So worry about yourself before you worry about what others think.
2. “I don’t have a choice.”
William James once said, “When you have a choice to make and you don’t make it, that in itself is a choice.” Nothing could be closer to the truth.
Ultimately, life has no meaning; you have a meaning and you bring it to life. It is a waste to always be questioning yourself when you are the answer. Until you can look at yourself in the mirror and honestly say, “I have a choice. I am here now because of the choices I’ve made in the past,” you will never be able to say, “I choose differently.”
You’re choosing, all day, every day. If you’re struggling at a job you don’t love, look at it this way: you’re choosing to make a living to pay your mortgage, support your family, and fuel your dreams. Don’t resist it; own it – that’s where your power is. If you’re in a relationship that’s causing you pain, you’re choosing to be in it. Maybe staying will lead to essential growth or a breakthrough or a deeper understanding of love. Or not. But you’re choosing to be in or out, right now. Whichever you choose, own it – that’s where your power is. (Angel and I discuss this in more detail in the “Happiness” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
3. “They are probably right, so I must be wrong.”
Don’t allow others to confuse you. Don’t let them convince your heart what is right for you. Your heart already knows. Listen to it. Don’t let anyone dilute the power of your inner voice. You’ve got to stand up for something specific, on your own two feet, or you will achieve nothing worthwhile in your own mind. Within you there is formidable and undeniable sense of purpose. Happiness comes from making a solid and persistent connection to that purpose. When your intentions are supported by a “why” that has meaning, you will find the “how” to bring them to life.
Bottom line: What’s right for you may be wrong for others, and vice versa. The truth is that the world isn’t really as it is, but as we see it. And we all see it differently. So don’t be scared to step out of line. It’s OK to go off the beaten path, as long as you know why going a different way is right for you. Some people may resent the freedom that you create in your life when you choose to be true to yourself. If you come across these people, ignore them and carry on.
4. “This sucks.”
The worst obstacle in life is a bad attitude. Remember, it’s not what happens to you, but how you respond to what happens to you. You can’t let one bad moment spoil a bunch of good ones. Don’t let the silly little dramas of each day get you down. Smile, even when it feels like things are falling apart. Smiling doesn’t always mean you’re happy; sometimes it just means you’re strong.
Likewise, do not let the negative opinions of others derail you. Throughout your life you will meet two kinds of people: those who are a drain on your energy and try to derail your dreams, and those who give you the energy to pursue your dreams. Ignore the first kind and cherish the second. People that doubt, judge, and disrespect you are not worth your time and attention. (Read The Four Agreements.)
5. “I hate you.”
As Martin Luther King Jr. so profoundly said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” Truth be told, when we harbor feelings of hate, it eventually gets the best of us. Everything and everyone you hate rents permanent space in both your head and heart. So if you want to eliminate something or someone from your mind, don’t hate. Instead, disconnect yourself, move on, and don’t look back.
And remember that getting even doesn’t help you get ahead. You will never get ahead of anyone as long as you try to get even with them. Sometimes we don’t forgive people because they deserve it; we forgive them because they need it, because we need it, and because we cannot move forward without it. To forgive is to rediscover the inner peace and purpose that at first you thought someone took away when they betrayed you.
6. “I can’t.”
Yes you CAN! Stop stressing over what could have been, because the chances are if it should have been, it would have been. You may feel discouraged. You may feel upset. You may feel too old. You may be sick. You may be divorced. You may be unemployed. You may be financially strapped. You may be… etc. But you’re not dead – YOU ARE ALIVE. Your journey is far from over.
Forget about how you thought things were supposed to be. Just because some things didn’t work out as you had expected, or didn’t happen as fast as you thought they would, is no excuse to give up on yourself. Time passes one way or the other. Do what you need to do so that, at the very least, you can look back someday and say, “I gave life my best shot.” (Read You Can Heal Your Life.)
7. “I missed my chance.”
Nothing is permanent in this crazy world, not even your mistakes, failures, or troubles. So laugh at the confusion, live consciously in the moment, and enjoy your life as it unfolds. You might not be exactly where you had intended to go, but you are precisely where you need to be to take the next best step forward.
As Maria Robinson once said, “Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.” This is your life; shape it, or someone else will try for you. Strength shows not only in the ability to hold on, but in the ability to start over when you must. It is never too late to become what you might have been. Keep learning, adapting, and growing. You may not be there yet, but you are closer than you were yesterday.
8. “Never mind… it’s not important…”
A great deal of unhappiness comes into the world because of confusion, bewilderment, and things left unsaid. Many times in life I’ve regretted the things I’ve said without thinking. But I’ve never regretted the things I said nearly as much as the words I’ve left unspoken.
Speak up. Don’t hide your thoughts and feelings, especially when you can make a difference. Be brave. Say what needs to be said. When you don’t communicate effectively with those around you, there’s a lot of important stuff that ends up not getting said and a lot of beautiful emotion that ends up not being felt. There’s no greater sadness than holding on to the words you never had the courage to speak.
What would you add to the list? What’s something you should NOT say if you want to increase your potential for happiness and success? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts.
Photo by: David Kracht
Oh, man, you hit the nail on the head with this one. I have desperately struggled with negative self-talk (and negative language in general) over the years. I used to be been known to talk myself right into situations I was hoping to avoid.
Again, I thank you for the wisdom. Honestly, buying your book is the best thing I have done for myself this year… every day I read a positive excerpt from it that keeps me on track. Ironically, today I read this line from the chapter on self-love which perfectly aligns with this blog post:
“If you had a friend who spoke to you in the same way that you sometimes speak to yourself, how long would you allow that person to be your friend?”
Susan Rae says
Thank you so much for this and all the inspiration you provide to me and to others every day.
#7 is the one I need to work on here.
Today, I will stop telling myself that I missed my chance. It’s time to give one of my dreams another shot…
Patrik Edblad says
I’d add “I have to…” You don’t have to do anything, but you can WANT to.
Don’t HAVE to do the dishes, WANT to because you like your kitchen clean.
Don’t HAVE to pay the bills, WANT to because you are sincerely grateful for how the services make your life easier.
Don’t HAVE to pick the kids up after school, WANT to because you love them and want them home safe.
This can seem like word play but it’s really not. Expressing yourself this way is so much more empowering and removes a ton of unnecessary stress from your life.
Great list Marc, thanks for sharing.
Mitch K says
2, the choice thing, is a struggle. There are choices, but they seem to have ever more serious consequences to making the wrong one. That, and the idea that any choice that puts yourself first, and disadvantages (even a bit) your family (especially children) is just not done.
But when it comes to choices I always seem to remember this from A Wizard of Earthsea:
“And the truth is that as a man’s real power grows and his knowledge widens, ever the way he can follow grows narrower: until at last he chooses nothing, but does only and wholly what he must do … ”
Not a nice feeling, but one that is painfully familiar.
Beth Worthy says
Great article. I appreciate your effort and agree with every word written. I believe listening to other is good, but always do what your heart says. This not only gives you satisfaction, but confident to take decision. This article is really going to help many of us. Keep sharing.
David Carroll says
Great stuff Marc. Positivity, independent thinking and action are all that’s needed to take us where we want to go.
I think harsh words reduce dignity… and letting go is what keeps one’s soul intact.
I am learning to believe that I can…I may not be important to that one person who means the world to me, but I am significant to many others and I help them smile…to me life is all about making someone smile…
I needed to read this post this morning. I had a bumpy Sunday. That’s what happens when you get caught up in being “attached” to (fill in the blank).
I would add that you should NOT say, “It’s too late.” How do you know that it’s too late for (fill in the blank)?” Remember, timing is everything and what you want or desire may not arrive on your timetable, but instead, on Divine’s timetable. Have faith, hope and patience. I personally know that having patience may not be easy, but try it. Take it from me… You’ll be more relaxed and happy. 🙂 And sometimes good things do come to you if you wait for the right time.
I’ll add…”S/He is a (negative).”
Judgment and spreading hate or gossip is a huge trap. Even if correct, it doesn’t do anyone any good. And when incorrect, if forces people to defend hurtful lies. As my dad used to say, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”
Happy, successful people would also never say that they never do any of these things. They’re aware of their flaws and have accepted them, thus freeing themselves from the emotional baggage that a lot of people bring with making a mistake. Enabling them to move past their mistakes faster than many other people.
Kevin Halls says
I wrote this poem on words and would like to share it:
Words can be cruel
and they can be kind,
they can touch the heart
and invade the mind.
Words can be a weapon
as sharp as any knife,
they can bring despair
and ruin someone’s life.
But words can bring joy
and hope and cheer,
words used wisely
can wipe away a tear.
Words, words, words,
created in the mind,
used to be nasty
or to be kind.
So watch your words
they’re a mighty tool,
they can make you look smart
or an insensitive fool.
So all I would add to the above is that when you use words, make sure you think before we say them…
Never say: “It doesn’t matter.” You and your dreams ARE important. They DO matter.
“I don’t have time” and ‘I need more technique before showing my work to the world’ are two I hear a lot!
Kosio Angelov says
“I’ll leave this for later”.
Procrastination is one of the worst enemies of success. Leaving thing for “later” almost never works out. If you don’t have the time to do something right now, schedule it in your calendar or put it on the to-do list. This way, you ensure it gets done eventually.
In 2007 I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. That sucked. It took me a few years to come to terms with having PD. I have learned (in Al-Anon) that my attitude is MY choice. I’ve learned that I can change my attitude whenever I choose. What a difference that’s made in my life. I’ve also learned how to change my attitude. When I find that I’m feeling sorry for myself or angry with myself, I make a gratitude list. When I think of all I have to be grateful for, I begin to feel differently inside. I begin to feel happy again and my attitude changes. This didn’t happen overnight for me. It took practice as I think any change does. I practiced till it became a part of who I am. I’m happy to be alive today!
Thanks Marc for your words of wisdom!
mitch k says
“This sucks” is only a problem if that’s the end of what you’re saying. If I say “this sucks…” (or some British equivalent) I always try to go on with “… so I’m going to do x,y,z instead of that/ in order to make it better.”
Sometimes “I can’t…” is real. Sometimes it really isn’t physically possible. But most of the time “I can’t” means “I don’t want to”. Check yourself when it’s like that. Could you actally do it? And even if you don’t want to, should you?
And other times “I can’t” actually means “I will not”. If someone asks you to do something that would be illegal/immoral, don’t say “I can’t”. Tell them you won’t.
Richard Wheeler says
There is so much truth and love in this post and all of the comments. I can’t add much more other than to admit that at 46 I am barely a student of this philosophy… keep teaching, all of you!
Another great topic… happy, successful people don’t continuously remind themselves how bad/crappy/sad/depressed etc. they feel.
Similar to your tip to smile (#4), I have a list of 3 memories that make me laugh out loud, and keep this in my daily calendar. Which I focus on when I need to change my emotional state.
As we physiologically can’t be unhappy and laugh at the same time, it’s a great antidote to the blues. You might get some strange looks doing this in public, laughing away by yourself, but mostly it makes others smile too… an extra bonus!
And having them written down in advance makes it easier to choose feeling good (as I’m sometimes a wee bit prone to enjoying my misery).
This is a fabulous article! My only thought is, I usually receive greater personal growth when I turn each statement into a positive, versus a negative. Example: choosing what I WOULD say instead of what I would NOT say. But everyone is different, and that’s just what works for me.
Thank you for the wonderful article!
tom hopps says
Don’t say “…when my ship comes in…”. Your ship comes in every day. You just need to expect it and be able to recognize it. The ability to recognize your ships when they arrive comes from your preparation.
Do say “thank you” a lot. An appreciative attitude can often turn what seems to be a negative into a positive opportunity.
Melissa Webster says
@KevinHalls, beautiful poem. Thank you for sharing.
@marcandangel, thank you so much for this list. I really needed it today, as I woke up feeling kind of crappy about things. This was a great reminder.
1) “To accomplish great things, you must not only act, but also dream, not only plan, but also believe… And remember, people are going to talk regardless of what you do or how well you do it. So worry about yourself before you worry about what others think.” I keep forgetting this and I needed the reminder.
2) For months I’ve been struggling with fear that I made the wrong choice and screwed everything up. So I keep reminding myself that I made the choice because the situation I was in made me unhappy, neurotic and insecure. After months of misery, no direction or purpose, and feeling like I threw it all away because of that choice, I can finally see it was the right choice for me. This different approach has led me to a more solid foundation that doesn’t fall apart over one petty thing or some other person’s choices and distorted perspective, a foundation that makes me feel empowered and strong, instead of powerless and insecure, questioning my judgment and instincts. The doubt and fear still linger, but it is much improved, and I can finally see hope again.
I’m still accomplishing the same exact goals, but in a much different, unexpected way that’s happier, easier with less drama.
So I’d add to the list “there is only one right way.” There is never just one “right” way to anything. The universe has a million different ways to make something happen. There are a million different paths you can take to get to the same thing. It’s about what is “right” for you. Which path empowers you and makes you happy? You just have to openly, gratefully receive it, be flexible and course-correct when something is sucking your energy, dragging you down, making you unhappy, and flat-out isn’t working.
This is where instinct comes in. Trusting it and going with your gut and heart is something I’m still struggling with, but slowly getting back on track. Trusting my instincts has worked very well for me in the past, to the point of weird, amazing, serendipitous shit just appearing out of nowhere carrying me along on my journey. It always takes you on the right path towards your goal. Trust it.
Great list, I know I’m guilty of several of these. #7 especially hits home, and I must remind myself to not fall victim to the poisons of shoulda-woulda-coulda syndrome.
Nega Taddesse says
Wow! It’s. So amazing. God bless you.
Susan G says
Your Daily Reminders of what IS possible in LIFE – and the simple getting back to basics – has been a marvellous gift all of this past year.
I always start the day with a slightly NEW perspective thanks to Marc and Angel
Wishing you both The Best for The Season and keep it Coming to my Inbox thru 2014!!
Sensational – Susan from Western Australia
Valerie Parv says
Thanks Marc & Angel, always inspiring. And thanks Patrick for your comment about “I have to” vs “I want to”. Off to tweet your wisdom next.
festus mbangu says
This is fabulous. I’m growing stronger and stronger every day when I read one of your post. I’m seriously learning a lot.
You are the best…
From Africa, Namibia.
#6 paragraph 2 – hit me between the eyes. I’m dealing with the issue of major life change, and with the one I love as well. Being a “planner” has made trying to keep flexible and sane nearly impossible. But I think my biggest issue is with the “it’s not how I thought it was supposed to be”, as opposed to just being grateful for the moment I do have. So I end up upset and mourning for what “should” be, instead of enjoying what I do have. Gotta turn that around.
Thank you for your words of wisdom Marc and Angel – so very grateful for your work.
Robert Fowler says
I do a pretty good job of not saying nor thinking those words, but it really hurts when people you know or care about say those words and sabotage themselves. This post may be a way to show them the light about the damage they are doing to themselves.
Larry Hochman says
I never say “I Can’t.” Never, never, never. (Except to make a point on self-development blogs.)
Seriously…there really is no such thing. It’s a null concept that shuts down possibilities. Just about everything we take for granted was once thought impossible. Most people said, “I can’t.” And then someone said, “I can, but I don’t know how.” And then a whole new world opened up.
Same thing happens in the life of everyone who says, “I can…and maybe I’ll try and figure out how.” 🙂
Laura Lynch says
I think one of the things that can keep me from going forward sometimes is thinking what I do will never be good enough or as good as what someone else can do. “So, why try?” I know this is a terrible way to think and I try not to give in to it.
Replace the word “want” with the word “desire” or the phrase, “I desire ” because the word “want” actually means “lack”.
We always have many choices, some might sound very far from our prospective. Talking with somebody we consider wise is usually helpful, because she/he can give us a point of view we’ve haven’t considered yet.
Sayin’ never mind is the worst thing to do. I’ve learned from my own experience that negativity, problems and in general misunderstanding, come from the bad habit of not talking about what hurts us. Never ever leave anything unspoken.It’s better to be crystal clear.
And of course it’s necessary to believe in ourselves. Sayin’ I can’t or having a bad chat with ourselves, damages our entire life. It could be really easy to just be happy and stop hurting ourselves. Society manipulate us but thank god we’re able to choose. Thank you for posting! 🙂
I’m sure this list could be expanded many times if one wanted to. But the bottom line figure is GIGO, Garbage In Garbage Out – If you program negative thoughts into you brain negative things are going to come out but if you program good positive things then good positive things are going to come out. It is all about developing and maintaining a positive mental attitude about yourself and those things in your everyday surroundings and being able to see good where others are seeing bad and being able to seek out opportunities within those crisis situations where others are only seeing problems.
Ohhh, guilty of more than one of these; without even thinking that they’re making me stand in my own way. I’m printing this post out and highlighting the parts I need to work on.
Rich Cornwell says
I would also add “Somebody else has already done it.” And “Nobody wants it.” Somebody may have already done what you are thinking of doing but you can do it better or another way. The negative “Nobody wants it.” may not be true because nobody has seen what you are working on so how would they know they don’t want it?
Hi, brilliant article. Thank you. I am very prone to wallowing in self pity – you end up hating yourself and the world, and it seems so pointless but it can consume you. It is nice to be reminded that we do hold the power to change this in our own minds. Thank you again for this article.
Joseph Dabon says
In a sense, it made my day. Honestly I am frequently swinging, like a pendulum, between being positive or and negative. But aren’t we all?
Hutoxi Anklesaria says
For the last year I have been struggling. I have had little hope. But deep down I believe that one day, God will help me and I will find my way. This post pushes me in the right direction. Thank you.
Sridhar Kumar N says
Much Thanks. what a great article with great manner.. written nicely and effectively…
I am thankful I read this.
Thanks a lot. Great inspiration!!!
My fear is my first enemy. I don’t know what to say… when I speak to my higher officials, my fear comes automatically and my words are struggling to make sense.
Please help me to get out of this. I don’t know why I am fearing everything.
Debra Wood says
We all fight how we feel constantly. If we didn’t feel we’d be robots. Just accept you are a complex beautiful human being with strengths and weakness’s. Life’s a journey, you choose how to live it.
Avi Singh says
“I don’t have enough time” & “it’s not my job.”
Marc Chernoff says
@Patrik Edblad: Great addition and examples! Thank you!
@Amandah: Excellent point! Reminds me of these examples… Using time, pressure and patience, the universe gradually changes caterpillars into butterflies, sand into pearls, and coal into diamonds. You’re being worked on too, so hang in there. Just because something isn’t happening for you right now, doesn’t mean it will never happen.
@Ragner: I completely agree. Those that deny their flaws or perceive themselves as perfect will never be entirely happy.
@Kevin Halls: BEAUTIFUL! Thank you for sharing!
@Marge: Your comment sings aloud to me. We are thankful to have you apart of the community to share such wisdom.
@Lorna: So true. When Angel makes me laugh I can’t help but let all the unhappy thoughts drop by the wayside.
@Melissa Webster: “There is never just one “right” way to anything.” Very well said!
@All: It’s a challenge to monitor every thought that crosses your mind, but by making a valid effort to choose your words more wisely, new doors will open that you never dreamed were there. As always, thank you for the added insight and positivity.
Kevin Dee says
I might add … “It’s not my responsibility …” .
I think that happy people take ownership of their life … and recognise that does not come naturally for many (most?).
Nwanguma Emmanuel says
I am indeed satisfied with the eight of them. Many a time I had subscribed to people’s opinions on my move to progress and achievements and I always ended up not continuing with my propositions. I suggest also that it is destructive to let out progressive plans to anyone too frequently, even your best of friends, otherwise, such dreams will hardly ever be “realistic.” Take steps every day. Listen to your heart and mind.
Add to the list:
“I don’t have time to (fill in the blank)” Go to college etc..
There is no meaning in life except the meaning man gives to his life by unfolding of his powers and by living productively.
This is an awesome article! I definitely have to let go of negative self-talk/thoughts. Thank you!