By Maxime Lagacé
Maxime is the founder and chief editor of WisdomQuotes. He has been collecting quotes since 2004. His goal? To help you develop a calm, powerful, and peaceful mind. Learn more about him on his about page.
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Words are powerful.
They can change your life.
In fact, they changed mine in 2004.
I was a happy 22-year-old boy.
But then, on July 31th, I lost my girlfriend in a car accident.
I felt lost and devastated.
That’s when I discovered the power of comforting and inspiring words.
Despite the support from my family and friends, I found the greatest relief in books, blogs, and sometimes videos.
I was grieving alone, in my way.
I was using other people’s words, thoughts, and quotes to find guidance and answers.
Most of all, I was using words to find myself.
It took me a long time, but I was able to heal and come back stronger than I was before.
I went from depression to serenity because of the power of words.
How words can change your life
Words can change your life because they can change your brain, body and mind.
In the book Words Can Change Your Brain, Andrew Newberg, M.D. and Mark Robert Waldman tell us that:
Certain positive words – like “peace” or “love” – may actually have the power to alter the expression of genes throughout the brain and body, turning them on and off in ways that lowers the amount of physical and emotional stress we normally experience throughout the day.
Over time the structure of your thalamus will also change in response to your conscious words, thoughts, and feelings, and we believe that the thalamic changes affect the way in which you perceive reality.
Another author, neuroscientist Joe Dispenza, tells us something similar in his book Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself:
The latest research supports the notion that we have a natural ability to change the brain and body by thought alone.
Because you can make thought more real than anything else, you can change who you are from brain cell to gene.
So what does it mean?
If you are conscious of your thought patterns and change them from negative to positive, you can indeed change the way you feel.
And if you change the way you feel, you change your life.
How exactly can you use words to change your life?
Are there any specific techniques?
Let’s find out 3 simple ways, backed by science.
Way #1 – Change Your Life By Changing Your Self-Talk
Use a word, quote, or positive affirmation
A man is what he thinks about all day long. Ralph Waldo Emerson
We think a lot.
Research shows we have around 6000 thoughts every day.
Now, imagine if half of those thoughts are negative.
How would you feel if that’s the case?
It turns out that since we are hardwired for survival, being pessimistic and negative is easier than being positive.
Thus, the first step to changing your thoughts is to become aware of them.
The second step is to replace each negative thought with a positive one.
For example, when I catch myself being discouraged, I say to myself “Stay hungry, stay foolish” which is a quote from one of my idols, Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple.
When I’m frustrated, I tell myself the words “accept”, “relax” or “I’m peaceful and calm”.
Sometimes I’ll also ask myself “what’s great about that?“.
It’s a powerful reframe for many situations.
Instead of feeling like a victim, you act responsibly and you automatically change your energy.
Related: 77 Positive Affirmations For Success And Happiness
Another kind of self-talk you can do is pray.
The keys to effective praying are feelings, emotions, and repetitions.
Words alone are not 100% powerful.
However, by using intense feelings and emotions when saying them, they become true agents of change.
Let’s say you pray every night by repeating the words “please give me strength” without passion.
The words will affect your beliefs, but only to a certain degree.
However, if you consistently repeat those words with intensity and confidence, while also using your whole body to truly feel them, you will change how you feel.
The repetition of personally meaningful words can actually turn on stress-reducing genes. Andrew Newberg and Mark Robert Waldman
A good way to see it is to imagine your thoughts as seeds, your mind as fertile land, and your emotions as the sun that comes up every morning.
No plants grow without the sun.
No change is possible without emotions and repetitions.
Asking yourself good questions can change your life.
Another way to use words is to ask yourself questions.
Preferably, do it first thing in the morning or just before going to bed.
The reason is that your subconscious, which controls 95% of your life, is more receptive to words when you are relaxed.
What questions can you ask?
A good example is:
“How can I feel even more relaxed and confident?“.
“How can I love myself even more?”, “How can I feel even more grateful?”
You can replace “grateful” with any trait you desire.
The key here is the words “even more”.
By saying this, you presuppose that you are already grateful.
And since your brain can’t tell the difference between what’s imagined and what’s real, it will act as if it’s true.
If you want a new outcome, you will have to break the habit of being yourself, and reinvent a new self. Joe Dispenza
Meditation is a different technique from the previous ones.
Instead of voluntarily choosing the right words for your self-talk, meditation will help you decrease your negative thoughts.
Indeed, meditation has been proven to tame the default mode network, which is responsible for your bad ruminations and mind-wandering.
By having fewer negative thoughts in your mind, you will naturally navigate toward the positive ones.
Note that you only need 10-15-minute of daily meditation to truly reap the benefits. (1, 2)
Try mantra-based meditation if you don’t know where to start.
In sum, to change your mind, you must change your thoughts.
You can effectively change your life by consistently using proper self-talk, positive affirmations, prayers, questions, meditation, and positive emotions.
Way #2 – Change Your Life By Reading Words
If we encounter a man of rare intellect, we should ask him what books he reads. Ralph Waldo Emerson
After my girlfriend died, I bought a few quotation books, psychology books, and biographies.
My goal was to understand my feelings and find a silver lining.
I also discovered a few helpful blogs.
An example is zenhabits.net by Leo Babauta.
He was explaining how to simplify your life and how to get back on track.
One thing emerged from this self-exploration:
It felt good to read the words of other people.
It felt good to realize I was not alone.
It also felt good to find answers and guidance from famous and less famous people.
Many times the reading of a book has made the future of a man. Ralph Waldo Emerson
One of the first quotation books I bought was “Petite Galerie de Grands Esprits” by Placide Gaboury.
It means “Small Gallery of Great Minds”.
In it, I found authors like Plato, Confucius, Aristotle, Marcus Aurelius, Einstein, Lao Tzu, Buddha, and more.
Discovering these philosophers’ deepest thoughts and philosophies of life helped me find my path to inner peace and happiness.
It helped me understand why I was suffering and what could be the next possible step.
If you’re interested, here are a few other quotation books, biographies, and self-help books I bought that could be useful to you:
- Striking Thoughts, by Bruce Lee
- The Ultimate Quotable Einstein
- Tao Te Ching, by Lao Tzu
- A Calendar of Wisdom, by Leo Tolstoy
- Walden, by Henry David Thoreau
- Steve Jobs, by Waler Isaacson
- The Maxims And Reflections, by Goethe
- An Autobiography, by Gandhi
- Neighborly Words of Wisdom from Mister Rogers
- Meditations, by Marcus Aurelius
- Self-Reliance And Other Essays, by Ralph Waldo Emerson
- Quiet: The Power of Introverts In A World That Can’t Stop Talking, by Susan Cain
Want to know the best part?
I started collecting the best words, ideas, and quotes around specific topics.
For example, I created a folder on my computer titled “When I feel sad”, another “When I want motivation”, and another “When I feel reflective”, etc.
I was then able to access the best guidance, words, and inspiration from the best minds in just a few seconds.
A beautiful treasure trove.
Make your own Bible. Select and collect all the words and sentences that in all your readings have been to you like the blast of a trumpet. Ralph Waldo Emerson
In sum, reading stories and quotes is inspiring, whether they are a few days old or a few hundred years old.
It will help you deal with your problems and motivate you to take action.
Positive words and thoughts propel the motivational centers of the brain into action, and they help us build up resilience when we are faced with the myriad problems of life. Andrew Newberg and Mark Robert Waldman
Related: 15 Life-Changing Books That Will Empower You
Way #3 – Change Your Life By Writing Words
Self-understanding is the root of inner peace.
The unexamined life is not worth living. Socrates
The third way to use words and change your life is by writing.
Indeed, writing has been one of the tactics that helped me heal after I lost my girlfriend.
I was often journaling on this question: “What am I feeling right now?”.
By forcing myself to think and write, I was able to detach myself from feelings and understand things more easily.
In psychology, it’s called labeling emotions.
It’s a great tool you can use to improve your well-being.
Name it to tame it. Dan Siegel
Other notable benefits of journaling and writing are:
- Better sleep (1)
- Less stress and more well-being (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
- More self-confidence (1)
- Better immune system (1, 2)
- Higher I.Q. (1)
- Better problem-solving (1, 2, 3)
- Better perspective on life (1)
There’s even one study that concluded that:
Journaling about a personally experienced stressful or traumatic event may facilitate positive growth from the event.
Want more journaling ideas and journal prompts?
Here are a few:
- Write about what’s on your mind right now
- Write about your biggest challenge right now
- Write about the emotion you’re feeling right now
- Write about the best thing that happened today
- Write about the worst thing that happened today and what you can learn from it
- Write 3 good habits you have
- Write 3 bad habits you have and how you could stop doing them
- Write 3 things you don’t need anymore
- Write about the best compliment you’ve ever gotten
- Write 3 things you love about yourself
- Write 3 things you would like to improve about yourself and why
- Write 3 things you’re grateful for
- Write 3 things you love to do and how you could do them more often
- Write 3 things you hate to do and how you could do them less often
- Write your top 3 people to spend time with and why
- Write your top 3 people to stop spending time with and why
- Write about your biggest fear
- Write about your biggest dream
- Write about the legacy you want to leave
- Imagine your health is your top priority in life. How could you make more time for it? What could you do to improve it?
- Write your top 3 short-term goals
- Write your top 3 long-term goals
- Write about the thing you’re the proudest of
- Write about your top 3 most important values
- List 3 things that inspire you
Finally, here are 5 tips for journaling:
- Do it daily
- Start with 5 minutes
- Don’t judge what you’re writing
- Do it on paper (but a computer is OK too)
- Do it first thing in the morning or just before bed to clear your mind
In sum, the more you journal, the more you’ll understand yourself, and the more peaceful you’ll be.
The best words are the ones you are ready for. And they will change you forever.
Without words, I would be a different person today.
They truly changed me and my life for the better.
And words can change your life too.
Whether it’s the words you are using in your head, the ones you read, or the ones you write, they can alter your brain and body.
Mixed with enough emotions and repetitions, they can modify your perception and improve your reality.
So, I’m asking you: which words will YOU use?
- Topic: Life
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- Thought of the Day – 150 Inspiring Quotes For Reflection
- Simple Living: 30 Ways To Simplify Your Life
Hope you liked this article about the power of words. If you did, please share it with one of your friends.
Which words will you tell yourself? Which book will you read? Which positive affirmations will you choose? And remember: words can transform your life, if you find the right ones.