As the new year approaches, many of us will resolve to transform our bodies — but what about our minds?
Giving ourselves a mental makeover could be just as important as giving ourselves a physical one. But accomplishing that doesn’t just lie in changing our thoughts — it’s also dependent on changing our words.
How we speak — to others and to ourselves — has a huge impact on our overall outlook. So isn’t it about time we started paying more attention to what we’re communicating?
Below are 15 phrases that will transform the way you think, feel and act in the coming year. Using your words to change your life? Now that’s a resolution worth keeping.
It’s among the smallest of words, but it suggests the biggest of manners — which, quite honestly, need to make a comeback. There are a host of benefits that come with practicing good manners, from increasing social connection to helping you unplug. And think about it: Are you more likely to fulfill a favor if someone asks you nicely? There’s power in “please.”
It’s a simple word, but it could help you get what you want. According to research published in the new book Magic Words: The Science and Secrets Behind Seven Words That Motivate, Engage, and Influence, those who reasoned with “because” in a sentence were more likely to receive what they asked for than those who made a request without the word.
For example, when asking to cut a line, study participants who said, “Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I’m in a rush?” were given more access than those who didn’t give a reason for their request. Why? Because science says so.
According to Binghamton University research, only a third of people accept a compliment graciously, Psychology Today reported. It’s no secret that many of us get squeamish when receiving compliments — and as a result, the response is usually laced with self-deprecating humor that brushes off a genuine statement. Saying “thank you” not only acknowledges the other person’s kind words, but hopefully it’ll help you believe them, too.
“How can I help you?”
If someone you love is going through a hard time, sometimes the best way to support them is just offering to do so. “If you really want to help somebody, then the way you should go about it is to ask yourself if you can be supportive of the individual in a way that allows them to tell you about what they’re experiencing and why they may be experiencing that,” Todd Farchione, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist at the Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders at Boston University, previously told HuffPost Healthy Living.
Helping others isn’t just good for them, it also can give you a boost. Research shows that giving back can increase self-satisfaction and a sense of purpose, while volunteering can improve longevity.
“Can you help me?”
Asking for help also carries weight. There’s nothing wrong with admitting that you need a little assistance. In fact, it can be transformative. We’re often worried that asking for help makes us look stupid, but one study found that seeking advice can actually make you appear more competent.
“I’m too busy.”
This one is incredibly important. Put this phrase in your memory — then completely erase it. In the past year, we’ve been more burned out than ever, and our constant busyness is standing in the way of our capacity for joy. As author Agapi Stassinopoulos put it in a HuffPost blog this year, “[H]ere’s to the end of glorification for our culture’s busyness, getting things done on little sleep, and feeling like we have to catch up with the race — because ultimately there is no race except for the one we assign ourselves to.” In 2015, let’s eliminate the word busy. And actually mean it.
This phrase by itself isn’t as important as when you say it. Hint: Say it as soon as you’re tired. Too often, one of the first things we neglect is sleep, when we really should be prioritizing it. According to a recent survey, more than half of American adults say they need at least eight hours of sleep — but nearly three quarters say they get less than that. Time to start hitting the hay earlier!
Tempted by those leftover holiday cookies while working on your healthy resolutions? Swap “can’t” for “don’t.” A study published in the Journal of Consumer Research found that people who used phrases like “I don’t eat cookies” had more self-control and positive behavior changes than those who said “I can’t eat cookies.”
It’s hard to admit when we’re in the wrong, but doing so can drastically improve our lives (not to mention our relationships). Research shows that guilt can physically weigh us down — so let it go with a heartfelt apology. Not sure how to go about it? Try these tips.
You can do anything, but not everything. Sometimes it’s simply OK to just say “no” if you’re too overwhelmed, especially if it means you’ll avoid burnout.
As HuffPost President and Editor-In-Chief Arianna Huffington pointed out at a women’s business conference in 2013, sometimes the best way to complete a project is by dropping it entirely. “That doesn’t mean ignoring my other needs, but it means when I’m in it, I’m really in it. And that means often saying no to good things, to things that you might want to do, but get in the way of sleep, or get in the way of being with your children, or whatever it is that’s also very important to you,” she said.
“I’m grateful for ____.”
Research shows that expressing gratitude can make us happier and healthier — both common resolutions at the start of the new year. Keep a gratitude journal or just reflect on what you’re thankful for at the end of each day. Want to dig a little deeper? Try our 10-day gratitude challenge.
Not everything is going to turn out the way we planned — and that’s more than OK. Accepting life as it is instead of worrying about how it “should” be can be a freeing feeling. Stressing over the little things can negatively impact our lifespan, take a toll on our bodies and more. As one of 2014’s most popular songs advised, let it go.
When was the last time you embraced a little adventure? Statistics show that new experiences are at the top of our bucket lists, yet we rarely go out on a limb. Research also suggests that experiences — not things — make us happier. Why not travel off the beaten path this year?
“Thank you for your message. I am currently out of the office.”
OK, so technically you’re not saying this, your inbox is — but this typed phrase is still vital to your well-being. Statistics show that Americans are too stressed and too scared to take their vacation days, and instead surrender to burnout and overwhelm at work. Planning a vacation — whether it be a real one or just one from your email — can boost your happiness and reduce stress. So let your Out of Office do the talking, and plan to take some time for yourself this year.
This may be the most basic yet most important thing you could tell yourself in the coming year. Pausing to breathe, to live in the moment, to let go of stress, is crucial to your well-being. If worries start to creep in, remind yourself to pause. You’ll feel better for it.