7 Subtle Language Differences that will Improve Your Mindset
“Words are free.
It’s how you use them that may cost you.”
Malice vs. Ignorance
Here is a law of the universe which will offer you immediate peace of mind. It’s called Hanlon’s Razor:
“Do not attribute to malice what could equally be explained by stupidity.”
The version I prefer (but is admittedly more forgettable) reads this way:
“Don’t assume bad intentions over neglect and misunderstanding.”
Did someone make your sandwich wrong? No worries! It was a mistake.
Get black-balled for that promotion? Fear not! They just weren’t aware of your true value. It could happen to anyone.
Someone cut you off in traffic? Take a breath! Maybe it is their first day driving.
This point of view is impossibly naive and probably borderline foolish. However, it’s a lot easier to have good days when you remember the whole world is not out to get you after all.
Dandelions vs. Dirt
They come from the same source, but one of them would make me pretty sick, and the other one I’ve started to use in place of coffee. Dandelion is chock full of potassium and boasts plenty of fiber and vitamin C.
Dirt is brown and tastes bad.
How can I tell which one is which? Two options:
#1) Try them both
Because sometimes the only way I learn is by eating dirt.
#2) Trust someone who knows
Which is difficult to do when you are stubborn and/or arrogant about your beliefs. Instead, be the dumbest person in the room as often as possible. Allow those who have been there to guide you to the dandelions.
Fair warning — this practice will sometimes lead you to people who think they are giving you dandelions, but instead have only dirt. Worse, some will give you dirt on purpose. They enjoy your pain.
And that’s okay.
Routine vs. Rut
This is difficult because, frankly, these two feel very much alike.
Here’s how you tell the difference: if your pattern is no longer giving you the result you want, it may be time for a change.
Important note: this includes boredom. Life is too short to be bored, even if the activity you are bored with is supposed to change your life and make you a bajillion dollars.
If you are bored of your routine, change it. If you are bored of your work, change it. If you are bored of your scenery, change it.
Shame vs. Embarrassment
Let’s crack open the dictionary for these two:
Embarrassment — a feeling of self-consciousness, shame, or awkwardness.
Shame — a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior.
On the surface, we don’t see much difference between these two emotions. The word I can’t help pointing out, though, is “pain.”
Shame is pain: unwavering, distressing, humiliating. Embarrassment is different. The awkwardness of embarrassment often comes from one event or action. Embarrassment says “I did something wrong.”
Shame says “I am wrong,” which is, of course, ridiculous. In the moment, shame will pretend it is infinite.
Don’t allow it to be. In a world where you could change your behavior at any moment, shame need never be permanent. Be embarrassed, sure, but never ashamed.
Quickly vs. Hurriedly
For the longest time, my only advantage was speed.
I was not the smartest or most creative or most talented or even the most aware of why my work mattered, but gosh DARN it you will receive your deliverable ahead of time.
Most ambitious people start out like this, I think. We don’t realize ambition has more variables than effort. And so we cram in more and more until “quickly” morphs into its evil twin — “hurriedly.”
Hurry makes mistakes often and apologies constantly. Hurry is incapable of foresight or planning, instead developing an unbreakable tunnel vision. Ironically, when you are hurried and overcommitted, you believe the only solution is to go faster.
Ignoring vs. Ignorance
Yes, I am acutely aware there were four calls I missed yesterday while I was working. I am not ignorant to that fact.
I ignored them, though, because they were not important at that moment in time.
Repeat after me:
“I love you, but I can’t give you my focus right now.”
The operative word there is not “can’t.” It is “right now.” Say this sentence aloud when you need to assuage your guilt from refusing to reply to messages, silencing notifications, and becoming as unreachable as possible.
I promise, all the urgent(!!!) communication will still be there when you emerge from the cave.
Resetting vs. Rebirth
The best way to come up with more creative ideas than everyone else is this:
Die every day. Wake up a new person.
This is not resetting. When I reset my computer, it comes back to life with the same programs, the same software. It will run the same patterns and the same functions in the same order.
The Phoenix does not reset. He is reborn — a completely new creature. It is important to note he is not an adult upon reincarnation, but a baby: Fresh, naive, fascinated.
Each morning, the world is new.
What will you find in it?
Hey all, Todd B here.
I’m launching my new book — The Unstoppable Creative — on November 9th. (YAY)