The Vocabulary Adjustment

by: Minda Harts, Founder, The Memo

Have you ever noticed that your vocabulary can impact your mood? I know that the vocabulary of others can sometimes affect my mood--positively or negatively. Growing up, my parents would often quote the Scripture, “There’s power of life and death in the tongue.” As I get older, I am constantly reminding myself to speak life over every situation, because my words matter!

Have you ever been around one of those people who can't help but say something negative whenever they open their mouth? Maybe you have been that person a time or two! Remember that our vocabulary is more powerful than we know! With a slight change in our language, the unhappy "I have to" and "I gotta" slowly turn into the hopeful "I GET to". This is small shift can ultimately make a huge difference in our attitudes and outcomes.

Below are a couple of ways to help us become more mindful of our vocabulary, which can lead to a better atmosphere at work and at home.

There is a Difference Between Trying and Doing!

We first have to be aware of our vocabulary. Take inventory of the words you use every day. Do you take privilege in what you get to do today, or in what you have to do today? I know bad habits die hard, and constantly being pessimistic in your language can perpetuate an attitude you may not have necessarily intended to project.

For example: I don’t HAVE to go to work on Monday morning, I GET to. What a blessing it is to have the ability to pay my bills and achieve my career goals.

I know it might sound cheesy, but it’s all about changing our vocabulary to a place of privilege. Always remember, slight changes go a long way.

Less Pess, More Opt.

Changing your vocabulary over time can make you feel more grateful for what you get to do. Do you remember Bobby McFerrin’s song Don't Worry, Be Happy? I used to think this was such a silly song, but the more I listened to it, the better I understood the principle within the song. The same applies with changing our language to reflect more optimism. The feeling of dreading something or hating something is not good for your personal or professional morale. If you find that every time you say something, a sigh follows--stop the sighing.

Another example: I don’t HAVE to stop and pick up dinner tonight at the grocery store. I GET to stop by the grocery store. What a privilege it is that I don’t have to search for food tonight.

Okay, maybe that was little extreme, but I think you get the idea. Sometimes our mouths can have a mind of their own, but it’s up to us to set the precendent for what comes out of our mouths most often.

I was recently introduced to work of poet, Lucille Clifton; she wrote a poem titled, "Won't You Celebrate With Me." (Poem starts on YouTube at 0:27).

won’t you celebrate with me
what i have shaped into
a kind of life? i had no model.
born in babylon
both nonwhite and woman
what did i see to be except myself?
i made it up
here on this bridge between
starshine and clay,
my one hand holding tight my other hand; come celebrate
with me that everyday
something has tried to kill me
and has failed.

- Lucille Clifton, "Won't you Celebrate With Me" 

As you think about your vocabulary this week, let’s celebrate together all the things we can overcome with a slight shift in our language.