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6 ways to use positive language for positive thinking


"Keep your thoughts positive because your thoughts become your words. Keep your words positive because your words become your behavior. Keep your behavior positive because your behavior becomes your habits. Keep your habits positive because your habits become your values. Keep your values positive because your values become your destiny."

Mohandas K. Gandhi


The article below was written by Melissa Donovan, founder and editor of Writing Forward, a website packed with tips for better writing and creative writing ideas. Not only does she have great tips on her site, but she's also written a great article about how we can use positive language to create positive thoughts! 

Words are the basic building blocks of language. We use them to build sentences and paragraphs, ideas, and to make conversation. Language allows us to structure and understand our own thoughts and feelings and to communicate intelligibly with others. The words we choose in our writing and in our everyday conversations reveal a lot about our attitudes and thought patterns. Two people can express the same thought using different words, and those two, identical thoughts will take on wildly different connotations. Consider the following two sentences: You don't know how to ride a bike. You can learn how to ride a bike. Both sentences convey the same information regarding whether "you" know how to ride a bike, but each sentence reveals a different attitude. If a child asks to ride a bike, a parent can respond with either of these remarks. Each one will have a different impact on the child. The words we choose when we express ourselves reveal our attitudes but they also affect the people around us. We can use our words to keep people down or we can choose our words to lift people up.

Fostering Positive Thinking Through Language

We can make great strides toward living a more positive life by learning how to frame our thoughts and ideas in more positive terms. By using language with positive connotations and selecting words that are affirmative in nature, we can look at the world through an optimistic lens. When we speak with others, words just come pouring out of our mouths. This is especially true when we're engaging in casual conversations with friends and family. We're so busy with the back-and-forth chatter that we rarely stop to think about how we can frame our remarks in a positive manner. To cultivate positive language, we need to think before we speak and censor ourselves, edit our written communications more carefully, and commit to being more conscious (and conscientious) about the words we use.

Practice a More Positive Vocabulary

Below are some practices you can adopt to cultivate positive language, positive thinking, and a positive lifestyle:

1. Keep a journal in which you practice positive language through creative writing. You can spend five minutes a day writing about anything (you can even make stuff up). Then, go through what you've written and look for negative words: can't, don't, shouldn't, won't, and no. Rewrite sentences that contain negative words and reframe them in a more positive context (like the bike sentences above).

2. Review everything you write. Written communications are the simplest place to start building a more positive vocabulary because you can edit your communications before sharing them. Take a minute to review your emails, text messages, blog posts, and social media updates and see if you can reword negative statements and phrases to make them positive.

3. Monitor the speech of others.
It's impolite to correct people or try to convert their vocabulary from negative to positive but you can certainly learn a lot by listening. As you listen, try to identify negative speech patterns and think about how negative language can cause any message to have a negative undercurrent.

4. Monitor your own speech. If you catch yourself using negative words and phrases, stop yourself, even mid-sentence, and reframe your statements in positive terms. If you keep stopping in the middle of your sentences, people will eventually ask why you're doing that. Tell them. Let your friends and family know that you want to develop a more positive outlook, starting with the way you speak. You'll be surprised to discover that a few folks in your circle will be intrigued and may express interest in joining you.

5. Think before you speak. It sounds easy but it's actually rather difficult to put into practice. It's perfectly acceptable to pause when it's your turn in a conversation and give yourself a moment to organize, prepare, and present your thoughts in a positive way.

6. Don't try to eliminate negative words from your vocabulary completely. While working positive language into your thinking, speaking, and writing is healthy, avoiding or ignoring the negative can be a form of denial. For example, "Drive sober" just doesn't have the same impact or sense of urgent importance that "Don't drive drunk" has (and needs to have).

With a little practice, we can use our words to turn a negative into a positive. Learn how to choose words thoughtfully, and eventually your thoughts and behaviors will become as positive as your language.

This article was written by Melissa Donovan, who is the founder and editor of Writing Forward, a website packed with tips for better writing and creative writing ideas. It's one of the best in terms of writing advice so if you're a writer (or someone who writes for any reason), I'd recommend it! 


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Hi Melissa,
I really liked this post about positivity. I struggle with this area in my life quite a bit, especially when I am working at maximum levels and find that others who are going slower tend to make me feel negative towards them.
This isn't right so I think that I need to practise writing positive language

David - Thanks for commenting on Melissa's post. I know exactly what you mean about getting frustrated with people who are going slower. It's very hard not to be negative about them sometimes, but using positive language (with them and with yourself) can really help!

Thanks David. I struggle with it too. I also find that asking (and answering) "why" helps to eliminate negative language. Instead of saying "Don't do that," we can say, "Do this instead, because..."

Dani, thanks so much for allowing me to participate on Positively Present. I love this site and all the uplifting ideas and good practices that you share here. It's been an honor :)

Melissa - You're welcome! Thank you for sharing this great information with us. It's been a pleasure to feature your post!

I agree 100%. Positive energy drives me everyday and the main force behind it is love. You can come read some of my articles if you want and comment 2. Thanks - Daniel

Daniel - Thanks for the comment! I'm glad you liked this one by Melissa. I'll be sure to check out your site.

What a great article. I have been trying to do this for a while now, and it's so hard to avoid saying things like "terrible" and "disgusting" (especially when changing diapers)! But it feels great. Getting all of that negativity out makes a big difference in how I feel.

GOAD - Glad you liked this article. It's definitely hard to adjust negative thoughts sometimes, but using positive language really does make everything seem better.

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