Our language just might be the most important raw material in our manufacturing of joy hormones. And yes, I think we can and do “manufacture” dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphins, all of which are essential to living our ideal lives.
Why Language Is So Important
Because language is so important, I try to choose my language wisely – both narrative and lexicon. Our tongues are the most powerful muscles in our bodies. This is why we need to select carefully what we say to others, and even more importantly, to ourselves.
When I talk about narrative, I am referring to the story I tell myself. I am not abdicating lying, but rather being intentional about repeating the most empowering stories. When I am launching a company, should I recount to myself about all the companies that fail? How many people much smarter than me have had to close their doors? How other people obtained financing, but I did not? Maybe, when there are lessons to be learned from. But nevertheless, it is the ceaseless fretting that must end.
It is more invigorating to tell myself a different narrative. The focus could be the handful of prospective clients with whom I have an excellent relationship. I can list the contacts who have told me they have a need for my services and desire to work with me.
Your Inner Language
Word choice matters, and we can construe our own lexicon. One of my dearest friends, Janette, transitioned her career from speech pathologist to executive coach. Just that transition alone epitomizes the magnitude speech has on the ability to coach. Each conversation with her is uplifting largely because of the language she chooses. She encourages me to ask myself questions like, “What do I love in my life right now?”
Additionally, Janette pushes me to rephrase “I can’t…” into “up until now, I have not been successful at….” Finally, her advice is always delivered with a gentle nudge: “I invite you to consider….” Janette never delivers suggestions with “you should” or “you need.” By contrast, another buddy smothers me with so much “you need” that I started to tease that “Eunide” must be her best pal.
How To Stay Motivated
Do you have a to-do list? If it works for you, keep it up. I, however, do not like knowing that there is an endless list of things that need to get done. The reminder hanging over my head can slow me down rather than speed me up. I like tricks that help me remember things, like I might set aside specific time to reply to certain emails or to properly file important forms. But lists can intimidate and overwhelm me, zapping my energy. I find it more motivating to create a “Have Done” list” with all my accomplished tasks of the day.
The scarcity/abundance meter is a mini exercise for turning up the dial on your creative energy through narrative and lexicon. Do you think about what you have (time, talents, resources, connections, and so on) and decide that you are lacking (in other words, there is a scarcity)? Or, do you take inventory and recognize you have all you need to take the next step (in other words, there is an abundance)? Try it, please. Wherever you find yourself on the theoretical scarcity/abundance meter, make an effort to take a step or two towards abundant thinking.
What Do You Love?
The best volunteer coordinators do not bemoan the fact that they are understaffed. Rather, they praise the existing volunteers, the impact they are making, and the fulfillment they are experiencing. “Mmmm, yummy,” says every great mother in front of her children while eating broccoli. You get the idea. Imagine a magnet, not a rake.
So, I ask you, “What do you LOVE about your life right now?” Make it a great day!