December 14, 2019

Five phrases to remove from your vocabulary and five phrases to use instead

There are some weird thoughts that pop into your head as you are driving home late at night. One of those was to my good friend Shawn who started to remove the word ‘busy’ from his vocabulary. Busy, as it turns out, is a choice and not a state that people put you in. Sure, there are lots of demands in your life from your work, family, friends, health and such but you can choose what you say yes (and more importantly say no) to. That means that if you are busy, it means you have chosen to do more things than you can handle.

It used to be a badge of honour – I would say that I’m extremely busy and people would nod their heads as if that was what all successful people should be. I would be lying if I said that I didn’t derive a bit of satisfaction telling others how busy I was but that’s now changed. I say no to more things than ever (maybe luckily, I don’t get invited to as many things as I did before). I actively choose what I want in my life or who I want to hang out with (or at least I try to).

So as I was thinking about this word ‘busy’ and thinking if I should remove it from my vocabulary, I started to think about the other phrases that I use and how I would change it, if I adopted a similar mindset. Aside from busy, here is what I will be experimenting with in my life:

“I’m tired” -> “Let’s get it done”

I don’t like to say that I’m tired. Sure, I can be mentally exhausted from work or physically exhausted from exercising or doing manual labour all day but I’m very conscientious of what I say out loud and what my body will listen to. It’s also not like saying “I’m tired” will change anything about my physiology; however, telling myself to get things done gives myself the extra motivation and desire to continue.

In the book, Living with a seal by Jesse Itzler, the navy seal (David Goggins) tells him that when your body is telling you that you are done (say doing bicep curls or something of the like), your body is actually at 40% of the capacity of what it can do. It’s extremely uncomfortable to go all the way so your body puts up defences telling you to stop, take a break, rest, etc. It can’t endure that amount of stress so just remember that the next time you want to say “I’m tired”

“Have a good day” -> “Make it a good day”

One of my mentors in Toastmasters, Peter Kossowan, would often end meetings and tell everyone to make it a good day. I didn’t realize the power of this phrase until he hammered it in meeting after meeting for many months. I realized that having a good day means that you rely on external factors to having a good day (you getting compliments from your coworkers, you winning the lottery, etc.) but these things don’t just happen every day. If you rely on external factors to have a good day then you are setting yourself up for many, many bad days. But, if you make it a good day, well, that means two things: one, you have the power to make any day a good day and two, no matter what happens externally, you can make any day a good day.

For me, a good day consists of working out, exercising, eating healthy, doing some sort of work (whether it’s work or a side hobby) and laughing. If I do all of these things, my days are good no matter what happens (I get into an accident, my boss yells at me at work, etc.).

“I’m hungry” -> Smile and fast

Hunger is your body’s way of saying that it needs something to eat but have you ever tried ignoring that call for a while? If you have, you’ll realize that your body will stop telling you it’s hungry. Just because the day is separated into breakfast, lunch and dinner doesn’t mean you have to eat that way. Figure out what your body needs. And a little fast or two never hurt anyone right?

Don’t go reaching for that bag of potato chips or those brownies sitting in the fridge. Fuel your body with something healthy even if you feel like munching on something while sitting in front of the TV.

“I’m bored” -> “What should I tackle next”

This reminds me of a Louis C.K. bit where his kids were complaining that they were bored. He told them that this was absolutely not possible with all of the things that they could possibly do around them. They had all the world’s knowledge in a device they can hold with their hands. Toys that they can play with. Books that they can read. There are so many things that you can do to occupy your time (and that includes just sitting in front of the computer and browsing Youtube clips all day).

If you are bored, I think it’s your brain’s way of saying “is there a way to make this more interesting and engaging?” There always is.

“I hate life” -> “What one habit can I change to improve my life”

Sometimes life hits you with a lot. You get fired from work. Then you get into a car accident. Then your house needs repairs. Even those that don’t look at or worry about these external factors may get a bit saddened by all of this. If your life is down in the dumps, it’s likely that you have one or two habits that you want to change. Maybe you’re losing sleep because of all the financial worries you have. Or you’re not exercising because you’re working several jobs trying to pay off a huge mortgage and car payment. Or you aren’t eating healthy because you just do not have the time to cook. Really stop and examine what it is in your life that you want to improve. And don’t try to improve it all at once, think about something small, easy, actionable that you can do right now.

Trying to eat healthier? Throw out any junk food you have lying around in your house or pantry
Trying to exercise more? Do 10 pushups and 10 situps in the morning, every morning
Trying to get more sleep? No devices two hours before bed

Eventually, these small things will add up to big improvements in your life.


How about you? What are some negative phrases that you have in your life and how have you reframed them? Our thoughts are extremely powerful so if you think negative thoughts, you will be a negative person but if you can reframe those into positive, happy thoughts, well, you will become more positive and happier as a result.

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