A good reminder from James Clear on a simple shift in language that can help with healthy eating and with moving our ‘locus of control’ from external to more internal. When we say “I can’t”, we are using externally focused language – something is preventing us. When we say “I don’t”, we are making a choice – an internally focused choice.
I’ve used this latter language successfully for a number of years. When I go out during the week, my standard response to being offered a drink is “Thanks, I don’t drink (alcohol) Monday to Thursday”. It’s both a habit – I don’t even think about it – and it’s a healthy life choice.
Now I could take it even further, from negative to positive. Instead of saying what I don’t do – drink alcohol – I could say what I do. I could say “I abstain”, or perhaps “I drink water Monday to Thursday”, to make it easier for my hosts to know what to serve me.
If I understand the research study correctly, those who express negativity such as: “disappointment, withdrawal, hostility, or contempt” (Alony, Hasan & Sense, 2015) are more likely to leave both a marriage and a workplace. In contrast, those of us who learn the following coping mechanisms are more likely to stay (in both a marriage and a workplace):
– Balancing the good with the bad (e.g. with at least a 2:1 ratio of two positive comments for every negative, aiming towards a thriving relationship ratio of 5:1)
– Genuinely accepting that bad things (e.g. annoying people and systems and rules) are just part of work life
– Avoiding lengthy discussions of the negatives (e.g. learning to shift conversations to focus on how they coped or what they learned so that we/they can do better or differently next time)
– Expressing hope (e.g. that you can directly influence and/or you can cope with whatever happens to you).
And the best way to increase the positives, is to thank others for their contribution, rather than just assuming “that’s what they are paid to do”.