7 Words That Make You Happy & How To Swap Out Language That Brings You Down
Language is a powerful thing, and while words might not necessarily hurt you, they can give you away. I’m not referring to literally slipping a secret in the middle of a conversation, either; the way you talk is often a clear indication of how you feel in any given moment. Think of it as reading between the lines whereas, instead, you’re listening between the word choices to decode yours or someone else’s mood. You might be surprised by the fact that words that make you happy exist, and they aren’t necessarily fancy or foreign to you. By mindfully making simple swaps that turn a negative into a positive, how you speak can change how you feel, which is pretty remarkable, if you ask me.
The next time you strike up a conversation with someone, listen to what they have to say, but also pay attention to how you’re feeling in that moment and the way you speak, too. Oftentimes, we’re so distracted by what’s going on internally that we don’t even realize the tell-tale signs we’re giving off through details as subliminal as our language that say “I’m not OK.”
New research coming from the University of Reading has found that, if you pay close attention to someone’s speech patterns rather than just taking sentences strung into paragraphs at face-value, you can pick up on how a person is actually feeling. For example, researcher and Ph.D. candidate in psychology Mohammed Al-Mosaiwi told The Conversation that people going through depression tend to repeat words with a negative connotation, like “sad” or “miserable,” and liberally use first-person pronouns like “I” and “me.” This is because when you feel depressed or low, you become so preoccupied by what's going on inside your head, that you start to feel notably separated from other people.
But what if you could separate yourself from language, and re-evaluate your word choices before committing to them aloud? According to Happify’s “The Science of Happiness Chart,” only about 10 percent of your happiness is determined by circumstance, while 40 percent is controlled by your own thoughts and behaviors. Going off that statistic alone, you should be able to change how you feel by first changing your mind and, as a result, changing how you speak to yourself and others.
In an exclusive interview with Elite Daily, Happify’s chief scientist Acacia Parks explains that language not only represents your mood, but it can also control your mood, as well. "Language can show us what strategies people are using to cope and strive toward happiness," Parks tells Elite Daily, "and those strategies, in turn, can change [your] mood for the better or worse." By putting negative thoughts out into the universe before taking the time to really think about what they mean to us, it makes them "real" which can, as a result, "worsen our emotional state.”
The trick is not to avoid negativity completely, but to ask yourself if what you’re about to say is an accurate depiction of how you feel, and consciously restructuring language, rather than “saying whatever first comes into [your] head,” according to Parks. To shift your language from negative to positive, here are a few ways in which your word choices can change your mood.
1. Actually Laugh Out Loud Instead Of Typing "Lol"
Mental Floss reports that, according to a 2012 study performed by Isabel Kloumann and her team of mathematicians at the University of Vermont, it was found that "laughter" was the happiest word in the English language. This should come as no surprise, considering how good it feels to experience a genuine, deep-rooted belly laugh.
The term "lol" (laugh out loud, for those of you who may not speak internet) is loosely thrown around as a kind of conversational filler, but how often do you actually let yourself laugh out loud? Probably not as much as you should. So when something is funny, laugh — don't hold it in.
2. Practice Gratitude Instead Of Greed
Gratitude is quite the buzz word as of late, but that's because putting it into practice can change your life for the better.
The minute you start to actively acknowledge the little blessings around you — a roof over your head, opportunities you've been offered, the people who love and care for you — the more you can focus on everything you have, rather than everything you lack and wish you could have.
3. Show Forgiveness Instead Of Disappointment
Personally, I think one of the biggest mistakes we can make in regards to language is how we self-talk. Trust me, I'm guilty of this too; it's easy to talk down to yourself when a situation doesn't go your way, or you feel like you've disappointed someone. But rather than reprimand yourself, practice forgiveness and let go of whatever it is that's keeping you down.
Kelsey Patel, a Los Angeles-based reiki master, yoga instructor, and meditation teacher, tells Elite Daily that changing the behavior of the mind and its beliefs is a choice we get to choose for ourselves every day.
"You can choose to stay in the same old voices, bullies, judgments, and expectations of yourself as you’ve always done," she explains, "Or, you can show up with a willingness to be open to the possibilities of new."
4. Recognize That You're Healthy Instead Of Pointing Out What You Lack
I don't mean to sound super cliche or overly zen here, but Dr. Oz wasn't wrong when he said your body is the temple to your soul. When you feel good physically, you feel good mentally, and sometimes you just need a reminder that as long as your health is in tip-top shape, there's nothing you can't handle.
5. Celebrate Little Victories, Not Just The Big Milestones
I think that, as humans, we tend to get so caught up in the big, monumental milestones like birthdays, promotions, engagements, and anniversaries, that we downplay the little things that deserve to be celebrated as well.
Congratulate yourself on little victories every day. Things like waking up with a smile on your face, successfully following a new recipe, or choosing not to procrastinate on a term paper are examples of successes that often go unnoticed, but deserve praise.
6. Say "Yes" Instead Of "No" When Opportunities Present Themselves
Holding yourself back from new opportunities is an easy way to feel resentment or regret in the long run. "No" is definitive, and puts an end to things, while "yes" is a kind of acceptance, an openness to living a life of abundance.
Don't be afraid to say yes to new experiences that could lead you to bigger and better things, because more often than not, saying "no" will hold you back.
7. Focus On What's Interesting, Not What's Boring
I know myself, and it's very easy for me to become so hyper-focused on things that bother me, rather than shift my attention to areas of genuine interest that make me feel happy, like literature or a good workout.
What's more, approaching a conversation with interest will suppress any feelings of judgment you may have felt if you came into the subject with a closed mind. This gives you the opportunity to connect with people before making up your mind that you don't like what they have to say.