I wonder about the people who post such comments. I doubt they are all nasty people. They probably have friends, and family members who love them. They may even have been sitting at work, answering the phone saying, "Good morning. How can I help you?" while simultaneously engaging in conversations like this this super tame example from the rainbow cake comment apocalypse:
The health effects of using positive language are long lasting. According to studies by Harvard professor Laura Kubzansky, 7-year-old children who have a positive outlook and use positive words have better general health and fewer illnesses in their 30s. Using positive words is just a nice thing to do. It bolsters other people, can increase our chances for professional advancement, and reduce conflict.
How do we turn around the negativity? In the picture above, I only kind of tongue-in-cheek suggest checking out a thesaurus. Knowing antonyms to recurring negative words in your speech may help you reframe things. For example, let's pretend you say "dumb" a lot. Your boss is dumb because s/he gave you a deadline. Your husband is dumb for thinking that you want pizza for dinner when you told him that you're going paleo again... starting today. Your town is dumb for doing road work in front of your house. Let's see what Merriam Webster can do for us:
Near Antonyms to dumb
ingenious, resourceful; acute, astute, discerning, insightful, keen, knowing, perceptive, percipient, perspicacious, sagacious, sage, sapient, savvy, wise; cerebral, erudite, highbrow, intellectual, knowledgeable, learned, literate, scholarly, thinking, well-read; educated, informed, schooled, skilled, trained; crafty, cunning, foxy, shrewd, wily; judicious, prudent, sane, sensible, sound; logical, rational, reasonable, valid
Antonyms to dumb
apt, brainy, bright, brilliant, clever, fast, hyperintelligent, intelligent, keen, nimble, quick, quick-witted, sharp, sharp-witted, smart, supersmart, ultrasmart
- My boss is perceptive that time is of the essence with this deal, so she gave me a deadline.
- My husband's choice for drive-thru pizza is reasonable, considering we don't have time to make it to the grocery store tonight before the PTA meeting.
- The City Council's decision to do road work is prudent since that pothole swallowed the neighbor's MINI Cooper last week.
Of course, positive language isn't going to come overnight, but here are 5 baby steps you can start today:
- Proofread what you write. If there are opportunities to turn some negative words upside down, go for it.
- Make a downer jar. This is kind of like a swear jar, only not for explicatives (see my caveat below). When you catch yourself saying something negative, put in a quarter. Figure out something good to do with the money after a pre-determined set of time, just make sure it's not a reward for you. Use it to buy a curmudgeon a cup of coffee, to tip a server after you see them skillfully deal with a nasty customer, or buy a small gift for an exasperated parent dealing with a public toddler meltdown.
- Post a positive vocabulary list next to your bathroom mirror, and check it out at least twice a day.
- Subscribe to a website that sends you a positive quote each day, or buy a desk calendar.
- Mind your "buts," which are often just a thinly guised NO. Practice suggesting positive alternatives.
No matter what you do, your efforts are good, my friend. I'm positive.