I’ve been thinking a lot of language choice lately and I decided to share three of my favorite word swaps. These are simple changes we can make in our language which make huge changes in our perspective.
Swap “Can’t” for “Don’t”
I found this one online; it was confirmed through a study done by Boston College. This one is particularly helpful if you are having trouble with boundaries, with telling people “no” or having trouble sticking to a goal. Instead of “I can’t go to the party,” try “I don’t go to parties.” Instead of “I can’t have soda” which can feel like depriving yourself of something you want, try “I don’t drink soda” which incorporates this into who you are: you are a person who doesn’t drink soda. In this way it affirms your own willpower.
Swap “Should” for “Want” or “Will” or “Feel”
This is one I learned from a counselor years ago. Is there any word that makes us feel more guilty and less in control than “should?” It brings to light the gap between all the things we aren’t and all the things we wish we were. Swap “I should work out” for “I will work out.” Swap “I should visit my family” for “I want to visit them.” If that doesn’t do the trick, connect to the reason you want to do those things with “because”, i.e. “I will work out because I love being healthy” or “I want to visit my family because I love them.”
And then finally, “feel.” Are you “shoulding yourself” because you are avoiding difficult feelings about obligations that you need to confront? Maybe you are telling yourself “I should hang out with this person” instead of admitting, “I don’t feel good around this person.” Being honest with your feelings can help you live your happiest life.
Swap “Spend” for “Invest”
I mentioned this one in my New Year’s Resolution. This is probably my favorite swap. To spend is to pay out money. To invest, in contrast, carries with it the expectation for growth. You spend money at a fast food chain. You invest in healthy foods at home. You spend money on new clothes you don’t need, but you invest in a quality wardrobe. Before I make a purchase, I like to ask myself, “Is this an investment?”
These words are all a work in progress for me, but I encourage you to try them and see just how much your perspective can change from these three simple swaps.
“I have always been delighted at the prospect of a new day, a fresh try, one more start, with perhaps a bit of magic waiting somewhere behind the morning.” -J.B. Priestly
I love New Year’s Resolutions, not because they are some sort of cultural obligation or because they give me an opportunity to work off my extra holiday diet, but because they are to me representative of a fresh chance and the opportunity to change perspectives.
I want to make 2017 my year of investing, but here’s the kicker: I’m not talking about my bank account. To invest is to put our time or energy or money towards something with the expectation of receiving a profit or a material result. In essence, I hope to make choices based on what I think will help myself and the world around me to grow.
- I’m investing in people and the environment by purchasing local, second-hand, or fair trade when possible and in thinking through every purchase.
- I’m investing in truth and integrity by subscribing to a reputable magazine and newspaper.
- I’m investing in hope by sharing stories of positivity and love and letting others keep their negative or hateful energies rather than letting them impact me.
- I’m investing in my mind by reading and asking deep questions.
- I’m investing in my body by being intentional about food and exercise.
- I’m investing in my soul through prayer, mindfulness, and being open to a new spiritual journey.
- I’m investing in my future by thinking of obstacles to my success not as threats but as challenges that I can tackle with a sense of adventure.
- I’m investing in family and friends by making my loved ones a priority.
Yeah, that’s a lot to take on, but it’s more about a shift in mindset than in tackling definitive goals for all of them. My resolution is to start every day with a mindful moment thinking about what kind of investment I want to make that day, and to revisit those thoughts intentionally throughout the day. I also plan to pause before I make a purchase and to ask myself, “Is this an investment?” I hope that this will foster growth and that I will be able to share this journey with you as the year progresses.
Have you made any New Year’s Resolutions?