9 Phrases You Should Stop Saying if You Want to Be Happy and Successful

Language matters.

by Elle Kaplan

Change your vocabulary and you can completely change your success.

Language matters. The right words can motivate you to take your happiness and success to the next level — but the wrong ones can stand in your way.

Studies have even found that using positive or negative language can change your brain by impacting the expression of genes that regulate physical and emotional stress.

Even more importantly, it’s been discovered that we say that we say 300 to 1,000 words to ourselves every single minute. If you’re practicing negative self-talk, that’s a lot of negative words being thrown your way.

If you’re serious about moving toward success in every aspect of your life — including your words — read on for nine phrases you should eliminate from your vocabulary.

1) “This has to be perfect.”

American journalist, activist, author of six best-selling books Maria Shriver once said, “Perfectionism doesn’t make you feel perfect; it makes you feel inadequate.”

Often, we strive for perfection because we seek approval and praise from others. When we obsess over how others perceive us, we are left unhappy, disappointed, and unmotivated.

Although you should always aim to do your best work (and you should never be making sloppy mistakes), you can’t expect to take on new challenges without a few slip-ups along the way.

Next time you find yourself in this endless cycle of thinking your best isn’t good enough, take a moment to find gratitude for all you’ve been able to accomplish — and then move on.

2) Constantly saying “Yes.”

When we say “yes” to everything, we make ourselves susceptible to being overextended, overworked, and overwhelmed. It also cheapens the value of our time, and blocks us from being able to put our full energy into the things we really want to say yes to. The key is setting boundaries. Janine Garner, CEO of The LBD Group, says, “It’s about realising that you’ve got to take ownership of yourself, take ownership of your life and ownership of achieving the goals you want.” Flex your “no” muscles more — as you say it more often, it will get easier.

3) “I’m so busy.”

A recent study in the Journal of Psychological Science shows that in general, we’re much happier when we have a lot going on in our lives. So why is our response to “How are you?” usually met with tales of our busyness, followed by an exhausted sigh?

When we vocalize this state, it automatically conjures negative thoughts, forces us to run through a to-do list in our heads instead of being present in the moment, and serves as a thinly-veiled cover-up for how we’re actually feeling. Next time a friend or colleague asks you how you’re doing, bring attention to your response — and avoid the word “busy.”

4) “They’ll change.”

Many of us are “fixers.” We see someone with a problem, or we see some aspect of their personality or behavior to that we want to change — so we force our idea of what is right upon them. People cannot change unless they want to. So not only is trying to change others futile, it compromise their happiness and ours. If someone comes to you for help, don’t be afraid to offer your support — just don’t force your ideas on them and expect a radical 180-turn in their behavior.

5) “I can’t.”

When people hear you say “I can’t,” they hear “I won’t.” Not only does this suggest that you’re not willing to do what it takes to get the job done, but often asserting that you can’t do something is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Often, we deny being able to do something because we are afraid — when we’re presented with a new opportunity that would introduce radical change, an exciting new role, or the chance to present in front of a room of senior executives. Next time you want to say “I can’t,” examine your motives carefully — is it coming from a place of inability, or fear?

6) “I’ll do it later.”

Procrastination can be a detriment to your self-esteem, productivity, and reputation. A number of studies over the past decade have also shown that it even has negative effects on your well-being and your emotional state.

To avoid the time-wasting, emotionally-draining effects of procrastination, employ good time-management practices like using a planner — either on your phone, or in a paper calendar. Break up your goals and tasks into bite-size pieces, and give yourself a small reward when you reach one of these milestones.

7) “This is the way that it’s always been done.”

Think about some of the biggest innovations of the last several years: ride-sharing apps. Electric cars. Virtual and augmented reality. These new products disrupted entire industries because they did things completely differently.

If Elon Musk had said “cars have always run this way,” we wouldn’t have Tesla. Don’t be afraid to challenge the status quo and think of new ways of solving a common problem — you can be sure your boss and the people around you will take notice.

8) “Everybody said no”

Apple is the biggest company in the world based on their market capitalization. We can give Steve Jobs credit for most of that growth.

Today, he’s regarded as a marketing genius and a business messiah, but it wasn’t always that way. Apple’s board of directors fired him at the age of 30, which any rational person would interpret as the ultimate “no.”

But that didn’t stop him. He went on to found NeXT, NeXT was acquired by Apple, and the rest, as they say, is history. But if he had taken “no” for an answer, we probably wouldn’t even know who he was today.

“No” is an opinion. One rejection is not law. It’s impossible to please everyone, no matter what you do, and that goes for your personal success. Don’t leave it up to someone else.

9) “Never!”

The New York Times famously predicted that no matter what, no matter how far technology reached and no matter what the aerospace industry came up with, the human race would never, ever reach the moon.

What if people had listened?

The greatest success stories are those in which the impossible was accomplished, where that which was thought of as “never” achievable was achieved. The best and greatest have employed the opposite mindset, asking themselves “what if everythingis possible?”

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Are there any phrases you’ve stopped saying to boost your happiness and success? I’d love to hear about it — leave a comment or give me a shout-out on Twitter!

If you liked these tips, please recommend the article and visit ElleKaplan.com for more advice!

Originally published at medium.com