“Keep your thoughts positive because your thoughts become your words. Keep your words positive because your words become your behaviour. Keep your behaviour positive because your behaviour becomes your habits. Keep your habits positive because your habits become your values. Keep your values positive because your values become your destiny.”
Mohandas K. Gandhi
The article below was written by Melissa Donovan, founder and editor of Writing Forward, a website packed with tips for better writing and creative writing ideas. Not only does she have great tips on her site, but she’s also written a great article about how we can use positive language to create positive thoughts!
Words are the basic building blocks of language. We use them to build sentences and paragraphs, ideas, and to make conversation. Language allows us to structure and understand our own thoughts and feelings and to communicate intelligibly with others. The words we choose in our writing and in our everyday conversations reveal a lot about our attitudes and thought patterns. Two people can express the same thought using different words, and those two, identical thoughts will take on wildly different connotations. Consider the following two sentences: You don’t know how to ride a bike. You can learn how to ride a bike. Both sentences convey the same information regarding whether “you” know how to ride a bike, but each sentence reveals a different attitude. If a child asks to ride a bike, a parent can respond with either of these remarks. Each one will have a different impact on the child. The words we choose when we express ourselves reveal our attitudes but they also affect the people around us. We can use our words to keep people down or we can choose our words to lift people up.
Fostering Positive Thinking Through Language
We can make great strides toward living a more positive life by learning how to frame our thoughts and ideas in more positive terms. By using language with positive connotations and selecting words that are affirmative in nature, we can look at the world through an optimistic lens. When we speak with others, words just come pouring out of our mouths. This is especially true when we’re engaging in casual conversations with friends and family. We’re so busy with the back-and-forth chatter that we rarely stop to think about how we can frame our remarks in a positive manner. To cultivate positive language, we need to think before we speak and censor ourselves, edit our written communications more carefully, and commit to being more conscious (and conscientious) about the words we use.
Practice a More Positive Vocabulary
Below are some practices you can adopt to cultivate positive language, positive thinking, and a positive lifestyle:
1. Keep a journal in which you practice positive language through creative writing. You can spend five minutes a day writing about anything (you can even make stuff up). Then, go through what you’ve written and look for negative words: can’t, don’t, shouldn’t, won’t, and no. Rewrite sentences that contain negative words and reframe them in a more positive context (like the bike sentences above).
2. Review everything you write. Written communications are the simplest place to start building a more positive vocabulary because you can edit your communications before sharing them. Take a minute to review your emails, text messages, blog posts, and social media updates and see if you can reword negative statements and phrases to make them positive.
3. Monitor the speech of others. It’s impolite to correct people or try to convert their vocabulary from negative to positive but you can certainly learn a lot by listening. As you listen, try to identify negative speech patterns and think about how negative language can cause any message to have a negative undercurrent.
4. Monitor your own speech. If you catch yourself using negative words and phrases, stop yourself, even mid-sentence, and reframe your statements in positive terms. If you keep stopping in the middle of your sentences, people will eventually ask why you’re doing that. Tell them. Let your friends and family know that you want to develop a more positive outlook, starting with the way you speak. You’ll be surprised to discover that a few folks in your circle will be intrigued and may express interest in joining you.
5. Think before you speak. It sounds easy but it’s actually rather difficult to put into practice. It’s perfectly acceptable to pause when it’s your turn in a conversation and give yourself a moment to organize, prepare, and present your thoughts in a positive way.
6. Don’t try to eliminate negative words from your vocabulary completely. While working positive language into your thinking, speaking, and writing is healthy, avoiding or ignoring the negative can be a form of denial. For example, “Drive sober” just doesn’t have the same impact or sense of urgent importance that “Don’t drive drunk” has (and needs to have).
With a little practice, we can use our words to turn a negative into a positive. Learn how to choose words thoughtfully, and eventually your thoughts and behaviours will become as positive as your language.
This article was written by Melissa Donovan, who is the founder and editor of Writing Forward, a website packed with tips for better writing and creative writing ideas. It’s one of the best in terms of writing advice so if you’re a writer (or someone who writes for any reason), I’d recommend it!