Want to Be Happier? Work These 7 Magic Words into Your Vocabulary

By Damian Davila on 19 September 2014 1 comment

It's a sad but true fact: Only one in three Americans say they are very happy.

With a tough job market, a hard time getting raises, and a high level of debt, many of us are getting hit with a triple whammy. This means that you need to take action and start working on improving your own happiness. (See also: 20 Habits You Must Start Right Now and Be a Better Person)

One of the easiest ways to become happier is by simply starting to use these four words and phrases more often.

1. "Yes"

In Yes Man, Jim Carrey plays Carl, a guy who challenges himself to say "yes" to everything for a year. From the start, this commitment ends up filling Carl's entire day with activities. It seems that he is so busy that he doesn't have time to be sad.

Studies confirm this theory. (Yes! Actual scientific studies confirm the validity of a Jim Carrey movie.) Richard Weisman, a British psychologist and author of The Luck Factor, believes that lucky people create, notice, and act on the chance opportunities in their lives by saying "yes" more often. Saying "yes" more often creates a fuller agenda, a fuller agenda keeps you busy, and being busier you makes you happier.

Of course, there are three important caveats to saying yes more often.

  1. Don't say yes to everything. Dangerous vices that can lead to addiction or activities that can put you in harm's way are generally not a good idea. Use your common sense.
     
  2. Be busy but don't feel rushed. Become part of the group of happier Americans, the ones that are not overwhelmly busy. Having too much free time leads to boredom, so the key to happiness is to be productive at a comfortable pace.
     
  3. Choose friends and relatives over tasks. Say "yes" to spending time with Uncle Paul rather than working overtime on that project. Turns out having a better social life can be worth as much as an additional $130,000 per year. A man who has friends is indeed a rich man, and a happy one, too.

2. "Will I…"

If you are going to be busier, you need to be more efficient at getting the job done.

The popular catchphrase "I think I can" from The Little Engine that Could has taught us from a young age that self-motivation is a key to success. However, it appears that the Little Engine might have gone about it wrong.

Researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign tested the effects of "I will" and "Will I" on self motivation. The test subjects were far more motivated to complete a task when using the phrase "Will I," which is a question instead of a self affirmation.

According to the researchers, by asking yourself questions about a specific task, such as "Will I lose weight?", you are more likely to build your own motivation to complete the task. This means that Bob the Builder's "Can we fix it?" is a better model for self-motivation than the Engine's "I think I can."

3. "Laughter," "Happiness," "Love," and "Happy"

What do these words have in common?

They are the top four of the most frequently words in the English language that exhibit the most bias towards positivity. Basically, the words that make you happier.

Researchers poured through Twitter, the Google Books Project, The New York Times, and a ton of music lyrics in search of the most frequently used words. Then, study participants rated each one of these 10,200 words individually, producing a list of the 50 most positive words.

Based on these findings, the researchers suggest three key actions to take. (See also: 25 Simple Ways to Change Up Your Routine and Love Your Day)

  1. Incorporate the top four positive words into your life as much as possible.
     
  2. Find songs that make use of the 50 most positive words and create a happy playlist to boost your routine. For example, The Beatles' All You Need is Love, Pharrell's "Happy" and Al Green's "Love and Happiness."
     
  3. Avoid using the 50 most negative words in the English language.

4. "You're Right"

  • Do you ever feel like nobody gives your the proper credit for what you do?
  • Do you think that people are giving you too many "buts"?
  • Do you wish to have more conversations instead of confrontations?

Then start saying "you're right" to your relatives, friends, and co-workers more often.

Showing gratitude can cause a chain reaction. Some call it karma, others "paying it forward." It all boils down to this: If you expect the world to tell that you're right more often, you need to start recognizing when others are.

Start today. It will take some time, but it'll be completely worth it. When you hear that first "you're right" from a relative, friend, or co-worker, you'll get a wonderful, warm, fuzzy feeling of joy.

What are your favorite things to say to make you happy? Please share in comments!

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Want to Be Happier? Work These 7 Magic Words into Your Vocabulary

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Guest

There are 9 words here, not 7. Actually there are 10 if you unroll "you're right" into "you are right".