Betty W. Phillips, Ph.D., Psychology
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The Power of Positive Words

                                           THE POWER OF POSITIVE WORDS

I've been writing Southern Neighbor columns for several years about achieving happiness. There's no need to stop now. 2012 is a year of challenge and stress. What better time to evaluate blockages to positive living? The words we use in our speech and even in our thoughts are actually powerful influences on our moods, happiness or depression. A delightful little book "Angel Words" (Hay, 2010) gives us pause for thought and suggestions for constructive changes. Dr. Doreen Virtue, a psychologist, and her son Grant observed patterns in word computer displays and then expanded their work to a more comprehensive study of the effect of language upon our personalities. The basic observation was the finding that positive words projected onto the screen have a larger, more expansive digital signature, at times even looking like angel wings, while negative words have a smaller, tighter and more constricted appearance. Virtue reviewed scientific studies on the effects of positive and negative words and presented pictorial evidence of opposing word pairs (like generosity/greed; giving/taking). The remainder of the book contains suggestions about incorporating these findings into a more positive lifestyle.

What do mere words have to do with happiness or depression? Aren't words just neutral tools used for communication just like keystrokes on a typewriter? Apparently not. We're living, breathing individuals, not machines or computers. Let's compare happiness and depression. Happiness is, like positive words, open, warm and expansive while depression is tight and constricted. You might picture happiness as standing with open arms and heart while depression is hunched over with head bowed. Isn't it interesting that word patterns reflect our body feelings?

The science of quantum physics describes the vibratory nature of the world. Vibrations are energy. Positive moods have higher vibratory energy while negative moods have less. The vibration of words sends energy to ourselves and out into the world. This finding actually applies to thoughts as well as spoken words. You could demonstrate this for yourself. Think about a negative experience, then observe what happens to your body: tense muscles? sinking feeling in your stomach? furrowed eyebrows? teeth clenched? Then picture a pleasant experience; you'll relax and feel peaceful and content. Now you get my point.

But do your thoughts, positive or negative, influence others? They do. Observers are definitely influenced by your body language. But more important, your thoughts are received subliminally by others in their brains and hearts. This has been demonstrated experimentally by Dr. Gary Schwartz (Energy Healing Experiments, Atria, 2008). Most people perceive your moods subliminally and a few actually receive your thoughts as messages. According to the findings of quantum physics, the whole world is connected in ways we are just beginning to understand.

How can you use this information to improve your life? Start by paying attention to your thoughts and words. If you have an Internal Critic, which most of us do, negative and judgmental thoughts worry and depress us constantly. (Also see articles about Self Esteem below.) You might start your change from negative to positive words by reminding yourself daily, even posting smile signs in your environment. The smiles will remind you to start translating negativity into positive phrases. Whenever possible turn negative predictions (worries) gripes and complaints into positive affirmations or at least neutral statements. Another technique is to cancel/delete a negative thought just like you would reboot a computer. (Example, "I'm having a terrible day. Cancel. I'm going to have a good afternoon.") You can fake it till you make it; just start. As you work to make this change you can also adopt other positive practices into your life; the more the better. Remember that the heart is energetically thousands of times more powerful than the brain. As Charles Dickens said, "A loving heart is the truest wisdom."