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Become More Optimistic: 6 Smart Tricks

To acquire a more positive attitude, all you really need is a more powerful vocabulary. Try these linguistic shifts.
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Some people see the world through a filter of optimism: They always make lemonade from the lemons, no matter what happens. Others see the world through a filter of pessimism; they always find the cloud in the silver lining.

It's a truism of life that the optimists are always more successful than the pessimists, but that raises a crucial questions: how can you change your attitude to be more optimistic? The answer? Change the words that you use every day to describe your experience.

Here are some quick language tricks that can change your attitude.

1. Stop using negative phrases ... such as "I can't," "It's impossible," or "This won't work." Such statements program your mind to look for negative results.

2. When asked "How are you?" ... respond with "Terrific!" or "Fabulous!" or "I've never felt better!" rather than a depressing "OK" or "Getting by."

3. Stop complaining ... about things over which you have no control—such as the economy, your company, or your customers.

4. Stop griping ... about your personal problems and illnesses. What good does it do, other than to depress you and everyone else?

5. Substitute neutral words ... for emotionally loaded ones. For example, rather than saying “I'm enraged!” say “I'm a bit annoyed”—or, better yet, “I've got a real challenge.”

6. Expunge profanity and obscenity ... from your vocabulary. Such words are always signs of a lazy mind that can't think of something really witty to say.

Rules 1 through 4 came from Jeff Keller, author of the bestseller Attitude Is Everything. Rule 5 come from Tony Robbins. Rule 6, as it happens, comes from my mother.

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IMAGE: Getty
Last updated: Feb 13, 2012

GEOFFREY JAMES | Columnist

Geoffrey James is an author, speaker, and award-winning blogger. Originally a system architect, brand manager, and industry analyst inside two Fortune 100 companies, he's interviewed over a thousand successful executives, managers, entrepreneurs, and gurus to discover how business really works. His most recent book is "Business Without the Bullsh*t: 49 Secrets and Shortcuts that You Need to Know."

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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