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Powerful Words That Create a Productive and Optimistic Life

Powerful Words That Create a Productive and Optimistic Life

“I can, I will, because I say so!”   My daughter, age 10 at the time, excitedly read me my supposed special battle cry (according to the Disney horoscope, that is.)  She was in awe at how Disney got it spot on since such words made up my regular pep talk when she felt discouraged.  Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) covers how neurology, language, and programming produce human experience. Words you say habitually create your reality.   State this positive battle cry regularly, believe it, and act on it.  Soon, you’ll begin writing “Done!” on tasks and projects in your To-Do list.  Practice using these other powerful words to create a productive and  collaborative mindset.

1. “I am  …”  The most powerful words that exist.

Far from merely stating a feeling or condition, these two powerful words actually create them. Be especially conscious of what you add to  “I am.”  Catch yourself saying these.  “I’m so upset. I’m annoyed. I’m sure they’ll say no.  I’m scared. I’m sick and tired of … ”  Switch and verbalize these instead.  “I’m able. I am well. I’m feeling good about this. I’m very pleased. I’m open to discussing …”

2. “I will.”

Intention and willingness spill out from “I will.”  You are willing to make the time to tend to someone or something.  When you say it to yourself, you affirm your capability and set your mind to doing the task.  When you say it to someone, it is synonymous to “Consider it done.”   Do not take these powerful words lightly.  Your credibility at work and in life increases with every “I will” that you actually accomplish.

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3. “I am confident. I believe.”

These powerful words immediately remove doubt.  When you are confident, there are no misgivings so you can begin straightaway. In a discussion, notice how the other person smiles and relaxes when you address his concern with “I believe we can do something about this.”  The words do not represent commitment. It means you are willing to consider and have sufficient knowledge of the situation to believe compromise is possible.

4. “I understand.”

Are you listening to instructions for a project?  Is your colleague venting about city traffic? Are your children complaining because you missed an important school event?  The words “I understand” apply to the three scenarios. The first requires comprehension; the second needs a listening ear; and the third calls for a commitment to prioritize your family.  “I understand” adds motivation and meaningful connection to your earlier “I will.”  It demonstrates empathy (versus “I know,” which can sound dismissive.)

5. “I don’t have the answers, but I will find out.”

This statement of negation spoken with honesty releases the power of a specific intention.  Not knowing presents a valuable opportunity to learn something new.  Having the courage to admit you don’t have the answers also removes pressure on your team to know everything all the time.  Such pressure can push people to pretend, with dire consequences. It’s acceptable not to have the answers, and then learn from it.  The next time a similar situation arises, you will definitely know how to respond.

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6. “YOU are right.  It’s my mistake.”

To honesty, now add humility.  Swallowing a piece of humble pie is not easy.  People will just as soon point at colleagues, suppliers, clients, the cat, the weather, or the planets rather than admit they are responsible for a problem.  These powerful words establish where the responsibility for the problem lies—a big step in finding the solution.  Unless someone has the humility to say these words, you can forget about solving any problem.  Admitting a mistake is not a sign of weakness but a measure of courage and solid self-concept.  The admission that you have contributed to a problem comes with the intent to find a solution. You will gain the respect and loyalty of your team when you take actual responsibility.

7. “Would YOU please?”

Productive overachievers perform well individually but are not always good leaders or team persons. That’s usually because they are perfectionists, reluctant to delegate and unwilling to collaborate.  You could be outstanding at numbers 1 through 4 above and have no reason to say number 5 or 6, but you would be missing out on fulfillment from synergy. These powerful words acknowledge other people’s contributions. You gain new perspective and they grow in experience as they perform. It’s about mentoring.  Step back and let other team members shine. They will be motivated to realize their potential and you will learn about being a true leader.

8. “I appreciate.”

Thank you, stated sincerely with a smile, can make someone’s day.  “I appreciate” has even greater impact.  These powerful words can rapidly manifest good things.  Say it promptly to someone for something specific and you will motivate her to continue doing well.   Apply its creative effect on you with a nightly habit of listing down the things you appreciate each day, and you will become fully aware of the wonderful things in your life here and now. Showing gratitude about something always creates more of the same.

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9. “WE can try.”

Hotel expatriate work contracts usually run for two years, and I’ve witnessed these scenarios regularly.  A new manager, eager to prove himself, will immediately change existing procedures and implement his way of doing things—even when the old system works just fine.  Or he has a really innovative idea but the team—used to doing things the old way—put up a lot of resistance.  “We can try” are powerful words that reduce friction in a situation.  It involves an attempt to retain existing procedures that work well.  It produces a willingness to test new ideas before lining up complaints about how (you think) they won’t work.

10. “Yes, WE can! WE are committed. Expect only the best!”

These powerful words hold a guarantee that a thing simply IS. Its power is found in the collective confidence of your team.  Such commitment becomes part of a brand. Its power extends over to public perception and the unquestionable quality associated with the brand and logo. Think of the globally acknowledged quality of Mercedes Benz engineering, Patek Philippe time pieces, and Michelin Star restaurants.  “We are committed” represents a powerful challenge and a worthwhile achievement that produces game-changing results.

Powerful words draw your reality. What you think and say create your experience.  Deliberately choose positive words in thoughts, speech, and with music as you sing about and expect “good things are happening.”  Singer songwriter Dan MacKenzie obviously agrees.

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Featured photo credit: joey zanotti via flickr via flickr.com

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Last Updated on July 17, 2019

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

What happens in our heads when we set goals?

Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

The Neurology of Ownership

Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

The Upshot for Goal-Setters

So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

Reference

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