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.
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.”
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.