What It’s Like to Use Beautiful Words, According to Science

5 words, That’s it

Karthik Rajan
Aha Moments
Published in
4 min readSep 10, 2020


I am a collector of hidden treasures in plain sight. Words — simple, ordinary words — used slightly differently can uplift our conversations.

1. Something vs. Anything: What I learned from Doctor’s language.

Prof. John Heritage of University of California, Los Angles studied how patients responded to a simple follow-up question, “is there anything else we need to take care of today?” To compare the results, one set of doctors used a small twist, “is there something else we need to take care of today?”

The something option provided statistically significant increase of reporting concerns. You are welcome to dwell into the technical details of the research here.

I discovered the practical punch line to be immensely useful — you have a friend mourning through a loss or you sense that your boss is in a pickle.

“Is there something I can do?” works wonders compared to “is there anything I can do?”

Try it. It sprinkles positivity. You are happy you could do something and they are happy you helped out on something.

2. Yet to discover a power word subtler that ‘yet’.

One of the fun things I learned over dinner table banter is about fortune cookies. -“When you crack open the cookie, find the treasure trove of words in that white sheet of paper, read it once and read it again and add the words, ‘in the bed’ to the end and it could give you a chuckle”

In the serious world of perfectionist — there is a serious climb from not knowing to knowing it well. That journey is hard. For an elementary school going child it could be “I can’t do division.” For a fresh graduate, “I don’t know how to code.”

Adding the word yet at the end of sentence converts it into a power play.

“I can’t do division, yet”

“I don’t know how to code, yet”

If you ever feel that you are too old for yet, remember ten years hence is similar to today — ten years ago. Sam Levenson, said it best:

Your “good old…



Karthik Rajan
Aha Moments

Stories to fuel your mind. Theme: life’s hidden treasures in plain sight. Goal: Warm tone, solid content, crisp stories. About me: one google search away.