May 30, 2009


It might be weird that the first place I learned about semantics was in my chemistry class of all places, but it created a bit of a domino effect where I thought a lot about how I say things and what exactly I say. I'm not talking rhetoric or aestheticizing my language, but rather, how I use my words in day-to-day conversation.

Simply by changing your habitual vocabulary, you can instantaneously change how you think, how you feel, and how you live.
- Tony Robbins
Some words that have caught my attention are "but," "maybe," and "kind of." They all give this sense of uncertainly and doubt. "I'll do it, but if this comes up..." "Maybe I'll come along." "I kind of want to do it, but I'm not sure." All statements we make pretty regularly; however, the word "but," when creating a conditional," makes things a lot more complicated than they need to be. When you say "maybe," chances are you mean "no." When you say "kind of," chances are you're trying to cushion the blow of what you really mean to say.

All of these things create layers between what we are thinking and the message we are actually sending. If you actually say what you mean to say, you don't have to think nearly as much. People appreciate your honesty sometimes, and sometimes they will wonder why you're so definitive, but it's okay. The point is that you walk away from conversations with a clear conscience, knowing that you said what you needed to say.

Lately, I've been saying "no" when I would have otherwise said "maybe," but I will follow it up with a disclaimer, something like, "Just being straight up," or "I don't want to ruin the plans, so it's almost definitely a no." Now, I do not like to provide disclaimers, but I am still in a bit of a transition phase in shifting my semantics, so it's tough, but that's not to say I'm not trying. It's not such a big change in language, but when you make it a habit, it makes all the difference in how you present yourself and how you feel about it.

When you say yes or no, you're able to create a definitive stance and be done with it. If you say yes, you know exactly what you need to do, and you just do it. If you say no, you can toss the thought from your brain and never worry about it again. When you say maybe is when things get fuzzy and the thought remains in your head but no where near the front, but not quite in the back. You know what that does? It takes you away from being present. You can't be where you are, in the moment, if you have all these "maybe," "kind of," thoughts in your head.

Just another example using words like "could" or "would." If you could, then DO IT. If you would, then DO IT. Instead of could/would, just say you're going to. The words you use determine whether you create your plan of action now or whether you say you'll make it later, which most likely means you're never going to get to it while keeping the thought in your head the entire time.

Live awesome,

P.S. I've always been saying "yes" a lot more when I would have otherwise said "maybe," (which would've inevitably led to a no), and it really opens me up to the opportunities in life a lot more. Try it. Say yes.

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