Many years ago I entered an elevator in a downtown office building and, as the door closed, I acknowledged the gentleman beside me who was catching up on the news on a screen that was situated above the door.

“Good morning,” I said in a cheery voice, while noticing that his eyes never left the screen as he replied in kind.

Not one who likes to be ignored, I continued, “How’s your day today?”

Although his head was still forward, he glanced in my direction and said, “I’m surviving.”

“Hmm,” I said. “Do you know what the word survive means?”

With his eyebrows raised, he now turned toward me. But before he could reply, I blurted out, “It means to avoid death! So, when I asked you how your day is going, you answered me by telling me you’re avoiding death.”

“I guess I did,” he replied.

With a smile I said, “Maybe you could do better than that today?”

And as the door opened to his floor, he smiled and replied, “Yes, maybe I could.”

Perhaps it was the excitement of being downtown and seeing a new client or that I was simply feeling cheeky that day, but it was clear to me that my new friend was not conscious of the words he was using and the power they carry.

In his poem, The Little Gidding, T.S. Eliot wrote: “For last year’s words belong to last year’s language, and next year’s words await another voice.”

It’s an interesting notion to consider if the words we use simply come from how we’re feeling, or if our ability to consciously choose our words is what ultimately dictates how we feel.

If we want to be happier in life, do we always need to feel it before we say it or is it possible that saying it can actually lead us in the direction of feeling it?

Maybe it’s both.

But if that were the case, then wouldn’t it suggest that we could change at least half of our feelings by simply being more aware of the words we use?

How many of us typically answer with OK, not bad or surviving when asked how we’re doing, not knowing the effect those words has on us each day?

It’s true that you can’t control everything that happens in your life, and some days it doesn’t matter what words you use, bad things will still happen.

But on most days, I believe it does matter. It’s important to choose words that are in alignment with who you want to be and where you want to go, and practice makes perfect.

So, how are you doing today?

What are your thoughts? (comments below)


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  1. Ron says

    You nailed it because we used to say “you are what you eat” but really you are what you think and say.

    Looking fwd to the next column.


  2. Sundar Viswanathan says

    It’s good to be reminded of these powerful truths, Timo.
    It’s easy to fall into the ‘comfort zone’ of negativity…


  3. Denise says

    Wonderful reminder. Ty!!! Xoxo


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