Can simply saying “thank you” spark the same good feeling you get from eating a candy bar? Yes! As wordsmiths, we all appreciate the power of a well-chosen word in a sentence. And today, new research proves that the words we choose — what we say in our everyday lives — can have a powerful influence on ourselves and others. And so, from the department of word power:*
Boost your motivation by saying “you” — If you’re one of the 96% of adults (wow!) who cheer themselves on in a challenging situation by thinking to yourself, “I can do it!” then here’s a tip. Simply switching to “you” instead of “I” and saying “You can do it!” helps you achieve more. In fact, research shows that giving yourself mental pep talks in the second person — as if you were encouraging someone else — is more effective than using the first-person “I.” Using the word “you” helps reduce your anxiety by subconsciously separating you from any potential failure. Without the added pressure, you’re more confident and more likely to stick to your goals.
Let saying “thank you” light up your day: A lot has been written about the positive effects of keeping a gratitude journal — jotting down things large and small that you feel blessed to have in your life, from seeing a friend to having a great cup of coffee. Writing words of gratitude fuels optimism by allowing your brain to focus on the positive. Now studies show that simply saying the words “thank you” out loud delivers a similar mood-lifting effect. MRI studies show that the brain’s reward centers (the same ones triggered by eating chocolate or a hug) automatically light up whenever we hear “thank you”!
Live longer and healthier with “happy” words — Sprinkling more positive words like “happy” and “love” in your everyday conversations, notes, and emails can boost your overall mental health by an astonishing 40% . In contrast, changing your circumstances — getting a new job or your dream house — improves your outlook by only 10%. “Positive language helps refocus and even rewire your brain over time, while a change of circumstances has just a temporary effect,” asserts Don Gabor, the author of Words that Win. The positivity that results can lead to fewer medical problems and even a longer life.
Venting via a journal zaps stress — When something really riles you, you’ll feel better if you put pen to paper before sounding off about it to a friend. When you write down what upsets you, “You can express your negative feelings without being judged,” notes psychologist Ellen K. Baker. Once you’ve expressed your frustration on paper, you can reach out to a friend for help in finding the humor or the silver lining in a tough situation. Research shows that this is the most effective one-two punch for shaking off stress.
Aren’t words amazing? Write on!
* The first 3 tips come to us via Woman’s World; the 4th one is from Parade.